Stories from the WKVI Archives

On this date 85 years ago, Che Mah passed away. He died at the age of 88 in 1926, and is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery in Knox. At times in his life he traveled with the Barnum and Bailey Circus and Ringling Brothers Circus. In 1900, Che Mah was playing with the circus in Chicago and saved enough money to retire. A real estate dealer, who he had fallen in love with, convinced him to purchase a farm at Eagle Lake, near Knox. Being no good at farming (after all he was only 24 inches tall) he eventually sold the farm and moved to Knox where he lived until his death.

He was born in China and was reportedly discovered by Barnum and Bailey Circus who brought him to the United States. It’s reported that he was as small or smaller than Tom Thumb.

Also on this date, Diamond Joe Esposito was shot and killed in Chicago (supposedly by the Capone gang). At one time, Diamond Joe was a powerful mob boss, but by 1928 he had run afoul of Capone’s gang and was robbed out. Esposito had a summer home at Bass Lake. It’s reported that Esposito was told, “You’d better go down to the farm and lay low.” He didn’t follow the advice and was shot and killed when coming out of his house on March 21st, 1928.