Our story begins in 1913 as the Marcus Whitfield Traveling Sideshow was coming up from a two week stay in Chicago. The sideshow was known for its parade of freaks more than anything else, featuring all the standards (Bearded Woman, Mute, Strong Man, Rubber Man, and Goat Boy to name just a few.) They also traveled with many animals. Still the seeds of this story were sown years earlier.
In 1896, a young homeless boy by the name of Jacob was taken in by Marcus Whitfield himself at one of the show's stops out West. Jacob was a skinny kid at the age of 6, but that didn't stop Marcus from putting him right to work. Jacob's job was to take care of all the animals, the largest being the wild hogs. Jacob had no problem with the smaller animals, but the hogs scared him tremendously. In time, however, he got over the fear and, eventually, even took a bit of a liking to the hogs.
One rainy evening, while he was making his rounds feeding the animals, Jacob leaned into the hog pen a bit too hard and slipped on the wet fence rail, he slipped right into the slop trough. He jumped up to get out of there, but he wasn't quick enough and the huge boar grabbed Jacob by the side of his head and started thrashing him about. Across the camp, Marcus and others heard the screams; they ran over to find Jacob fighting for his life against the 800 lb. beast. Marcus pulled Jacob from the pen, but the damage had already been done. Jacob's bloodied face was nearly unrecognizable.
Once they cleaned him up and stitched the wounds the best they could, Marcus told Jacob that was lucky to survive such a horrible mauling. Years went by and Jacob slowly healed, but the pronounced scarring on the right side of his face was very noticeable. He started getting laughed at by the show's patrons. Their constant screams of, "FREAK" left a different kind of scar on Jacob.
After months of abuse from customers throwing things, yelling and picking at him, he finally thought to himself of a way to cover up his horrible scars and, perhaps, get people to like him again. Jacob used some mime face paint, when Shaky the Mime wasn't looking, and started covering the scars that had ruined his life. He thought that maybe, if he made himself look like a circus clown, that he could finally escape the ridicule and even entertain people as they went from act to act.
During his first attempt, he almost got kicked out by Marcus himself, because Marcus had no idea who he was. Jacob told Marcus what he was doing and Marcus let him continue... as long as he kept up with his chores. The "clown makeup" became an everyday security for Jacob to hide behind. He rarely ever took it off.
In 1913, the Marcus Whitfield Traveling Sideshow was stopping off at small towns during its travels from Chicago. They made a stop in the village of Stockbridge, Michigan and persuaded a farmer to let them to camp in his field. The field was surrounded by woods, corn and wheat fields. In addition, there was an inviting pond where they could bathe and water the animals. The night before they were set to leave, Jacob was walking around the farmers fields and found himself in the woods on the north end of the property. Jacob thought he would climb one of the tall oak trees to see how high he could go.
He climbed the tree, but on his way back down, he lost his footing, fell and broke his leg. He was unable to walk back to camp and was too far for any of the others to hear him yelling. The following morning, the show packed up and rolled on to the next town.
It wasn't until later that night they realized Jacob was missing. Meanwhile, the farmer went to make sure the squatters had not destroyed any of his crops or helped themselves to some corn. When the farmer entered the woods, he heard something moving near a tree. He slowly peaked around a tree just feet away from where Jacob was lying hurt. When Jacob saw the farmer, he let out a painful yell, which startled the farmer who, as a matter of instinct, shot Jacob with his pistol. Realizing afterwards that this was not an animal or trespasser, but a performer from the freak show that was there the night before, the farmer didn't know what to do, but bury him, still in makeup, in the woods.
Marcus rode a horse back to the farm in search of Jacob. Upon returning to the farm, he asked the farmer if he had seen a young man who was dressed as a clown. The farmer, fearful, said he had not seen anyone.
During this past century, there have been many sightings of a figure around the old farm, often accompanied by laughter coming from the woods. It seems to happen more around the fall season, when there is a lot of activity. The original owner of the farm, it is said, disappeared in 1915 and was never found. They did, find a drawing of a clown like face in blood on one of the windows to the farmhouse. Surely, though, that must have just been a coincidence.