Surrounding herself with beauty.
The true force behind the Ca d'Zan aesthetic, Mable Ringling
made Sarasota her dream home
The only thing that can be said with certainty
about Mable Ringling is that she was beautiful. Although she never agreed to be
photographed by the press, studio portraits and family snapshots show her to have been a
slender, dark-haired woman with fine bones and porcelain skin.
Mable gave but one interview in her lifetime, in which she talked
to a reporter for a newspaper in Seattle about traveling with the circus. She never spoke
publicly about her personal life.
Even the most basic facts are open to question. She was probably
born on March 4, 1875, but an archivist from Mable's hometown of Moons, Ohio, once set the
date at March 16, 1874. The Ellis Island Website shows that she began to whittle years off
her age with each trans-Atlantic crossing as John Ringling's wife, which she became in
1905. It's uncertain how, or even where, they met.
Mable, born Armilda Burton, is believed to have left her parents'
farming community home when she was 15. She probably lived in Chicago for a while, working
as a waitress or a store clerk, and eventually relocated to Atlantic City, NJ, where she
most likely met John.
Whatever commercial motives John had for Ca d'Zan, for Mable it
was a home -if only a seasonal one. Although she spent time at their summer residence in
New Jersey after 1918, Mable followed her husband's gypsy itinerary with the circus for
much of each year. Ca d'Zan was to be the place where she, at least, could unwind for
three months at the end of the circus season.
As John involved himself in all the financial aspects of the
project, Mable invested an artist's passion in its design and decoration. While she worked
with several assistants, including architect Dwight Baum, Ca d'Zan was very much her
house, from its Venetian-Gothic exterior to the specially mixed paints for every wall to
the arrangement of the furniture she personally selected from the vast collection she and
John had acquired at auction and during their travels.
As John Ringling went a transformation od sorts during his
evolution from Circus King to Duke of Sarasota, so did Mable, who as chatelaine of Ca
d'Zan took to wearing couture from Paris and entertaining on a grand scale. Company
dinners were largely devoted to John's business contacts, but during her afternoons in
residence Mable gave frequent musicales and bridge parties for a s many as 100 guests.
Despite his immense local influence as a developer, John remained
something of an outsider to Sarasota seasonal society. Mable, on the other hand, was
popular presence at local events. In 1927, the Sarasota Garden Club made her its first
In the summer of 1928, Mable developed pneumonia while she and
John were traveling to Europe. She recovered at the Carlsbad spa and later at St. Moritz,
but never returned to her previous vitality. On June 8, 1929, in New York, she died of
Addison's disease -a failure of the adrenal glands- complicated by diabetes.
By: Bill Hutchinson. Correspondent for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
April 28, 2002
Mable was a dancer in the circus
There are several stories how John and Mable met. The most likely version is that John had met Mable in the
circus. She was a dancer in his circus.
"The Circus Kings: Our Ringling Family Story" by Henry Ringling North and Alden Hatch:
"In 1903, at thirty-seven years of age, John Ringling had finally married. His bride Mable Burton of Columbus, Ohio, was in her twenties. She and her sister were dancers in one of the great specs of the circus. Though John Ringling would never trifle with the performers, he could and did fall completely in love with one. Marriage was different."
Posted on https://www.rootsweb.com/~ohfayett/n-query2.html
by Bebra Walk.
Looking for any information on George Wesley and Mary
Elizabeth (WILSON) BURTON and information on their
parents. Their children were Clara Burton who married a SMITH; Amanda Burton who
married B.C. WORKMAN; Dulcey Burton who married a SCHUELER; Alma Burton who married a REID
or REED, William Earl Burton; and Armilda (Mable) E. Burton, born 14 March 1875
Moons, Perry Twp., Fayette Co. and died 8 June 1929, who married John RINGLING (1866
- 1936). They were married 29 December 1905 in NJ.
Most interested in information pertaining to Mable BURTON RINGLING specifically looking
for any records, correspondence and/or photos. Mable and John RINGLING built The
John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL and had other homes in NY city and
Alpine, NJ. We have little information on Mable. We do know that Alma was doing
research on the family in the 1920s and was searching land records in VA. Any
assistance is greatly appreciated.
More Information like the above.