From A History of Crittenden County Arkansas
Lagnaippe, Page 324
by Margaret Elizabeth Woolfolk

James Grover Tarver, who died at his home at Turrell January 21, 1958, at the age of
72 and was a farmer in the Turrell area for 23 years, was a circus star for Ringling
Bros. and Hagenback & Wallace circuses from 1909 until he retired in 1935. Tarver,
billed as "The Texas Giant" and "the tallest man in the world", was eight feet, six inches
tall and weighed 435 pounds.  Rings that he wore were 1.5 inches in diameter and a
50-cent piece could be passed through the opening.Tarver participated in a command
performance for the royal family in England in 1929. (James Grover Tarver is buried in
Section 5)
J G Tarver "The Texas Giant"
Author: Sinder Perring
Date: 9 Nov 2000 7:04 AM GMT  
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OK, My dad is driving me crazy now. He is requesting more information about the
Texas Giant. He is dying to get a picture of him. If anybody can help, I would really
appreciate it. As noted in earlier message, my dad found a ring that has JG Tarver, The
Texas Giant engraved in it.

Texas Giant
Author: Martha (Tarver) Cartusciello
Date: 7 Dec 2000 10:17 PM GMT  
In Reply to: J G Tarver "The Texas Giant  by:  Sinder Perring
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My Mom is the Tarver expert, but she's told me about The Texas Giant, so here ya
go...he traveled with the Barnum Bailey Circus in it's early years. The ring your dad has
was a souvenir that was handed out during the 'giants' shows. The ring was a replica of
a ring he wore on his ring finger...looking at it this should let you know how huge this
guy was...and why he was such a huge attraction for the circus. I think my Mom has a
picture of him...I've told her of this site--I'm sure you'll hear from her soon. Hope I
helped a little!!! By the way, those rings are hard to come by and is very very old, so
tell Dad to hold onto it.

Texas Giant
Author: Sinder
Date: 8 Dec 2000 6:00 AM GMT  
In Reply to: Texas Giant  by:  Martha (Tarver) Cartusciello
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Thank you so much. My dad will be thrilled. I look forward to hearing from your mom.
Have a great holiday and thanks for taking the time to answer. Sinder

texas giant
Author: sara  Date: 1 Jan 2001 1:35 PM GMT  
In Reply to: Texas Giant  by:  Martha (Tarver) Cartusciello
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the "texas giant" was my great uncle. his name was Jim.

Texas Giant
Author: Aileen Tarver  Date: 2 Jan 2001 8:56 PM GMT  
In Reply to: texas giant  by:  sara
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His name was James Grover Tarver. Born Sept 1885 in TX. His father's name was
James born Sept 1845 in GA. His grandfather born in MS., grandmother born in GA.
Father's occupation was a farmer. Mother was Lizzie ______, born Oct 1862 in TX.
Her father and mother born in Georgia. His brothers and sisters were: Mattie, Edna,
John, Addie, Rubie and Acie (male). James and Lizzie had 9 children, two had died.
This info from 1900 census, Jewett, Leon County, TX. At age 35 he was 8ft 6in tall
and weighed 460 lbs. Said he was a cowboy until he got larger than the horse. He
worked in several circus'. He sat in the back seat of a car to drive. He was married 3
times. He died in Arkansas in 1958. Go to a library and find a National Geographic, Oct
1931. Find article about circus.....find plate 5. No name identifying him but he has
TEXAS on his boots. If you'd like info about him email me at

Texas Giant
Author: Scott  Date: 5 Apr 2001 2:48 PM GMT  
In Reply to: texas giant  by:  sara
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I've got one of his rings and what is really weird is someone recently gave me a
panoramic photo that shows your great uncle in front of a lodge/temple with hundreds
of lodge members. He is standing in the center holding his big hat.

Re: Texas Giant
Author: Travis Tarver II
Date: 30 Dec 2001 3:28 AM GMT
Classification: Query
In Reply to: Texas Giant  by:  Scott

Hi Scott
I am currently trying to search and find more Tarver information. James Grover Tarver
was my great uncle. Brother to my Grandfather Acie Howard Tarver. I have never seen
one of his rings although have heard abouth them since I was a child. They at one time
were numrous as Sovigniers. Although my quest for one has been fruitless, as pictures
are not easy to come by either. I would like to talk to you about the ring and pictures.
My e-mail is

And anyone else who is reading and has information concerning "Big Jim Tarver" I
would love to hear more. Trying to save some history for my daughter as well.
Thanks in Advance.  Travis Tarver II
Forensic Genealogy
Table of Contents
Quiz #80 - October 8, 2006
The Digital Detective
The Digital Detective
Where, Who.....?
A Case Study in Digital Detective Work
Many thanks to Jim Davis at the Jefferson Parish Library in Jefferson Parish, Louisiana
for submitting this week's quiz photo.
The Database Detective
How tall was the man in the middle?
What was his name? When did he die?
The Database Detective
Answer:  James Grover Tarver
He was 8'4" tall. (Some sources say 8'2".)
September 17, 1885 - January 21, 1958
The Ulmer Family
A Case Study in Database Detective Work
The DNA Detective
The DNA Detective
Robert Wadlow
8 ft 11.1 in
272 cm
Jim Tarver
8 ft 2 in
249 cm
Yao Ming
7 ft 6 in
229 cm
Abe Lincoln
6 ft 4 in*
193 cm
George Bush
6 ft 1-1/2 in
187 cm
January 24, 1958


former circus giant, died at his home in Turrell
Tuesday morning. He was 72. Services were
held Thursday afternoon at the Citizens Funeral
Home at West Memphis with the Rev. J. T.
McGill, Baptist minister from Helena , officiating.
Burial was in Crittenden Memorial Cemetery.
During his circus days, with Ringling Bros.,
Barnum & Bailey and others, Mr. Tarver
purchased a farm near Turrell where he lived
during the winter when the circus was not
traveling. Since his retirement from circus life he
had made this his home. Big Jim, in his prime,
weighted 460 pounds and was eight and one half
feet tall, and was billed as the "World's Largest
Man." At the time of his death he weighed about
400 pounds. Born in Franklin , Texas , Sept. 17,
1885 of normal sized parents, Big Jim, like
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Contest #80 Results
Congratulations to our winners!

Eva Royale              Jim Kiser
Pam Rein         Debbie Sterbinsky  
Fred Stuart            Mary Fraser   
Maureen O'Connor           Kelly Fetherlin     

If your name has been omitted from our list of winners, please let me know. It was unintentional.
James Grover Tarver was born in 1885 in Franklin, Texas, moved to Memphis and
retired to Arkansas so he was always a Southerner. He entered the show business in
1914 and was billed variously as "The Texas Giant", "Texas Jim" or  "What-A-
Man-Tarver". Jim travelled with various circuses for 26 years and spent his time off on
his Arkansas farm. Plagued by diabetes, he died on his beloved farm in 1958 at age 72.
Quiz Tip:  The man in the picture is dressed as a cowboy because he was from
Texas. If you search Google with the words "Texas Giant", you will find a
website with a picture that is very similar to this week's quiz photo.
Ten Giants and Their Rings (Above)
Click here for more information.
eBay Auction Ending 8/10/2006
(James Grover) Tarver was a member of Barnum and
Bailey circus and also the Cole Bros. circus, he was
also an actor and appeared in "Jack and the Beanstalk"
and other movies.

Modeled after the ring the Texas Giant wore, these
rings were a great keepsake for those who saw the
Texas Giant.

It is said that people would purchase the ring which Jim would slip onto his finger
before handing it back to the buyer in a sort of "blessing" ritual.

The ring is huge measuring just over 1 1/4" across x 3/4" high. It is made from pewter
(I think)  and is decorated on the side with an embossed floral motif.

The centre plaque reads "J.G. Tarver Texas Giant".
Tall Man Postcard (Left)
One man standing with arms stretched out
above two other men. Printed: J. G. Tarver,
Dallas Texas / Height 8 feet 2. Age 24 years.
Weight 325 Lbs.
Ronald G. Becker Collection of
Charles Eisenmann Photographs
here for more information.
In Comparison
Andy & Colleen
5'11" & 5'3"
180 & 160 cm
*The picture takes into account his hat.
Jim Tarver Biographical Information
For a list of the tallest men, see
For more pictures of circus giants, see
Last Name
First Name
A. Howard
Oct 9, 1899
Jun 19, 1982
Double with Jewell B.
Charlotte E.
Jun 1, 1924
Oct 2, 1995
"In Loving Memory"
Clara Irene
No Date
Double with James Grover
James Grover
"The Texas Giant"
Jewell B.
Nov 14, 1903
Feb 18, 1991
Double with A. Howard
Travis Lee Sr.
Dec 2, 1928
Sept 20, 1981
A2C US Air Force Korea
Vernon W.
Sept 29, 1936
Jun 15, 1892
"In Loving Memory"
Crittenden Memorial Park Cemetery
Marion, Crittenden Co., Arkansas
Exchange of Messages by Tarver Descendants on
the Tarver Message Board on
The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus 1922
By Chang Reynolds. Bandwagon, Vol. 9, No. 6 (Nov-Dec), 1965, pp. 4-13.

Earl Moss had relinquished the post as Bandmaster which he held in 1921. Park B.
Prentiss was in charge of the band at the Louisville , Ky. , opening, but by the end of
July an advertisement for musicians in Billboard listed Harry G. Armstrong as
Bandmaster. The route book for the season listed William Matthews as director.
Professor T. E. White was in charge of the Side Show Band. The Side Show was
managed by Arthur Hoffman who also had the 1921 "kid show" under his direction.
Featured were: Sylvia Andrews, snakes;
Sig Acaris and Nellie Brad, impalement; Little
Alright, wonder worker; Viola Barton, fat girl; Nena Appleby, Small Lady; Florence
Carlyle, novelty; Clayton Johnson, swords; Milly DeArcey. swords; Cleve Morris. Tall
Girl; Dolly Eisenberg and Grace Ringlin, novelty;
J. G. Tarver, giant: S. M. Yatero,
fire eater. Barton, DeArcey, Andrews, Acaris, Johnson, Ringlin, and Appleby had been
on the 1921 circus.
Remember The Great Arcaris, Grandfather of Knife-Throwing?
(See for a reminder.)
1900 Census
Leon Co., Texas
James Tarver
Sept 1845
Oct 1862
James G.
Sept 1885
Dec 1886
Dec 1890
Apr 1892
Apr 1894
Aug 1897
Aug 1899
1930 Census
Cook Co., Illinois
Jim Tarver's Draft Registration Record, WWI
Jim Tarver's Obit
Topsy, "just growed." He was a 32nd degree Mason and a Shriner, and up until his
illness was active in Crittenden County affairs.