Depending on who you ask and when they knew him, Jackson Sprigs was a dairyman, a magician, a lumberjack, a sideshow barker, and a concert promoter. Some say he was a scoundrel who swindled widows and neglected wives out of money. He died Wednesday at Tabart Memorial Hospital. He was 94.
Sprigs was born in England but his family immigrated when he was still an infant. His father died when he was seven and he was raised by his mother, helping her run their small dairy farm. The dairy farm failed when Sprigs was a teenager and people say it was due to his lack of enthusiasm for the work and his dream of becoming a professional magician, for which he seems to have had little talent. He occasionally worked in vaudeville and carnivals but eventually admitted defeat and became a lumberjack. Still hungry for attention, he gained a reputation for finding and cutting down the tallest trees on any given job. While working as a lumberjack he befriended Benjamin Blunderbore, a fellow lumberjack who was, it is said, nearly 8 feet tall. Sprigs convinced Blunderbore to leave lumberjacking to work carnival sideshows as The World’s Tallest Man, also known at various times as Goliath, or The Last Nephilim, or Jack’s Giant. By his own account, Jackson Sprigs discovered his true calling as a sideshow barker.
Sprigs eventually came to own his own carnival and it was his home for over 30 years, until his friend Benjamin Blunderbore died. Though he never married, he was rarely seen without the company of a woman, usually wealthy widows he called “geese” and who funded his various endeavors, including the world tour of renowned harpist, Marigold Fene, who most believe was the only true love of his life.
Though Sprigs has no known family, anonymous arrangements have been made for his funeral.