Joseph A. Rowe was born in North Carolina in 1819 and joined a circus company in 1829 as a child performer. In 1837, he became
independent, engaging in various circus activities, and touring the east coast and South America. In 1849 he came to San Francisco
and gave the first circus entertainment. In 1851, he went to Australia, returning a rich man in 1854. In 1854, he purchased
the Rancho Sant Anita near Los Angeles, living there for several years. In 1856, he assembled a new company, the Pioneer Circus;
however, a combination of hard times and stiff competition drove the company into bankruptcy in 1857. At this point, a business
friend, John Center, purchased the circus and resold it to Rowe at a fair price. In 1860, Rowe again toured Australia, this
time unsuccessfully. After 1867, he worked at various jobs, dying in obscurity in San Francisco, November 5, 1887.