Filed Under Entertainment

Emma Rezac Stickney

East Walnut Hills Equestrian Extraordinaire

Emma Rezac Stickney was born in Cincinnati in 1877 and was a famous performer for a traveling circus. Her act took her around the world before the curtain closed with her last performance taking place at Chester Park in Cincinnati.

Three years after immigrating to Cincinnati from Austria, shoemaker Frank Rezac and his wife Francis welcomed their daughter Emma to the world. The youngest of three sisters, Emma Rezac grew up speaking German and English surrounded by other first and second-generation immigrants in her childhood home on Back Street in Over-the-Rhine.

She met her husband, circus performer and New Orleans native Robert F. Stickney, as a young teen and they married in Cuba in 1890. Stickney was from a long line of circus performers, claiming in a 1910 interview with the Cincinnati Commercial Tribune that his was the oldest circus family in America. Emma joined Stickney’s circus life and began performing as a trick bareback horse rider. Emma gave birth to her daughter Emily in 1895 while the couple stayed with her parents at 12 Findlay Street. Around the year 1900, the Stickneys and their extended family moved to a house at 2527 Hackberry Street in East Walnut Hills. The home has long since been demolished, but historical maps show the property was well-tailored for the circus family, featuring a horse training ring in the backyard.

Emma Stickney spent the next twenty-five years of her life as a regular in the entertainment section of Ohio newspapers which described her as both beautiful and daring. The Stickneys performed locally in Cincinnati and traveled nationally and internationally performing together.

After performing across the globe, Emma Rezac Stickney’s last performance in Cincinnati took place in Chester Park, now the site of the Greater Cincinnati Water Works Building in Spring Grove Village.

In 1923, Emma Stickney died at the age of 40 after falling from a hotel window in Newark, New Jersey. Her daughter Emily Stickney followed in her footsteps performing as a trick rider alongside her father Robert.

Emma Rezac Stickney lived a unique and interesting life that began with her birth in Cincinnati and ended with her being laid to rest in Cincinnati at Spring Grove Cemetery under a grave marker listed only as “Mother 1876 -1923 Wife of Robt. Stickney.”


2527 Hackberry Street


Ricco Hayward, Russell McCabe, and Brenden Pulte
, “Emma Rezac Stickney,” Cincinnati Sites and Stories, accessed June 15, 2024,