On February 9th 1967 Elvis signed *a cheque for $5,000 as a deposit to buy Twinkletown Farm, which he renamed Circle G Ranch.
This significant date in the history of the Circle G has been chosen by The Circle G Foundation to launch the latest initiative to further our ambitions to have the historic significance of the ranch recognized.
Through the Circle G Memory Bank we are proactively approaching those who knew Elvis during his ownership of the ranch and asking them to relate their memories (written and photographic) to our archive.
We also hope to engage with the citizens of Horn Lake and surrounding areas to assist with documenting their recollections before and after Elvis’ time there – before they are lost forever!
The Circle G Foundation has the backing of the Mayor of Horn Lake and Senator Thad Cochran, both taking a keen interest in our campaign.
If you know of anyone with memories of Twinkletown Farm, Circle G Ranch, Horn Lake or its surrounding areas, let us know, we would love to get in touch with them!
**the original cheque written by Elvis is personally owned by Lesley Pilling, Founder of the Circle G Foundation
Meet Mr Bill Spence – with some wonderful memories of Elvis!
Over the last twelve months or so I have been in contact with a wonderful gentleman who lives just outside Memphis. Mr Bill Spence’s father, W.N. Spence, ran Graceland Farms Riding Stables and Elvis bought many horses from him before he owned the Circle G. Mr B Spence owned and ran Bill J Spence Horse Services and here at the Circle G Foundation we have some great documentation illustrating horses and equipment that Elvis purchased from him.
During our recent visit to Memphis in September 2013 we had the great good fortune to meet with Mr Spence and we spent a wonderful couple of hours in his company and that of his lovely wife Ruth.
Mr Spence shared some wonderful stories with us. Once that we think you’ll find particularly interesting concerns the knife that Mr Spence is holding in the picture.
Elvis liked to ride his horses fast! When Elvis bought hats from Mr Spence he was always concerned that he would loose his hat. The solution….Mr Spence would customise Elvis’ hats by cutting a hole on either side and feeding through a cord – result – Elvis could go as fast he liked and not loose his headgear!
We’d like to thank Mr Spence for sharing some of his memories with us and also providing us with some incredible information that is allowing us to do further research into the Circle G and Elvis’ time there.
Imagine the scene……
1972 and Carolyn and her family live at the Circle G Ranch.
Her father is employed by Mr Snowden Boyle of Boyle Investments/Developments.
It’s a normal Sunday. Carolyn is getting ready for Church with her family when there’s a knock at the door……..
We’ll leave it to Carolyn to tell you about the rest.
“I moved into the house on the ranch in 1972 after Elvis sold it. I spent my high school years there and have wonderful memories.
One main one is Elvis just showing up one day to look around. Elvis must have had a great affection for the place to go back even after he sold it. My daddy’s boss owned it then.
It was a TOTAL shock. We were actually getting ready to go back to church on a Sunday, but needless to say, we did not make it.
I am positive that it was a Sunday afternoon. Elvis was driving a white Cadillac. There was a man in front with him and two women in the back seat. I do not remember how long he stayed back on the property. We watched as he took the road that led by the lake and the bridge. But once he made the curve we couldn’t tell whether he stopped anywhere. He was very polite and assured us he would stop on the way out, which he did and signed autographs for myself and a sister.”
We’d like to thank Carolyn for getting in touch with this great story which validates the fact that the ranch held a very special place in Elvis’ affections – we know he visited and spoke of it many times over the following years.
He loved the ranch – fact!
We have to save it – and time is running out – fact!
Donna Lewis – A Memory of the Circle G Ranch
© Thomas R Machnitzki, 2012
Donna Lewis was a teenager in the 1960s. Her family was friends with and she grew up around Elvis Presley during the years he gained fame. The two remained in touch on an increasingly irregular basis until Presley’s death in 1977. Donna’s popular three volume book series “Hurry Home, Elvis” is a diary of her memories from the good old days with Elvis Presley between 1962 and 1977. Donna was so kind to share one of her memories of Elvis and the Circle G Ranch with us here at the Circle G Foundation and the German GRACELAND magazine.
Thank you, Donna!
And Thank you to Thomas R Machnitzki who conducted the interview.
A Memory of the Circle G Ranch
Santa Gertrudis cattle are grazing down by the lake. Over in the stables, the horses are being fed and groomed. The kids are running around and playing tag, while being chased by a various assortment of yapping dogs. Off in the distance, the sound of mowers, cutting the grass of 140 acres – and there is Elvis, laughing, and cooking hamburgers on his new, custom-made grill.
Welcome to the Circle G Ranch in Mississippi.
My name is Donna Lewis, and my family and I spent many years being around Elvis. Daddy went to work for Elvis when he bought the Circle G. But for a period of about 6-8 months, we were part of the ranch life that Elvis embraced.
One Memory that I’d like to share with you all, happened in June of 1967.
One of the mares was due to give birth, anytime. “Baby Watch” went into effect and everyone couldn’t wait to see the new addition to the stables.
Elvis had gone to the Memphian  that night to watch movies. It had been raining, and it was muddy and still raining when Elvis pulled in about 3 a.m.
Elvis rolled his window down and Daddy told him the mare had given birth, and Elvis and Priscilla jumped out of the Cadillac, leaving the cars doors wide open.
Elvis borrowed Daddy’s flashlight and they started to take off on foot, in search of the colt. Joe & Jerry  & Daddy loaded Elvis and the rest of the gang, into pick-up trucks, and for the next hour, the search was on. Jerry got a spotlight on his truck, as they had to be so careful driving through the mud.
They finally found the mare and her newborn colt, out by the side of the lake. All was well and Elvis was so tickled and excited!
He went into the little ranch house, sat down at the piano, and started belting out “Lawdy Miss Clawdy!” He finished the night, happy and singing the beautiful ballad “Till The End of Time”.
Terms: Donna Lewis and Thomas R Machnitzki grant permission to publish their text and images in any form, printed or digitalised, now and in the future. Credits for text and images are required for publication. For online publication, please provide a link to the content. For printed publication, please mail two (2) complete copies of the printed final product to: Thomas R Machnitzki, -address available from The Circle G Foundation.
A quote from Priscilla…
“What seemed like a new life had begun. We spent our honeymoon at the Circle G. I look back at those weeks as a remarkable lull in the middle of a storm. Elvis was between pictures. I’ve never seen him so ‘free’, free of the entourage, the press, the Colonel and the incessant demands of his career. It was just the two of us in our ranch house. I loved cooking his eggs and frying his bacon. I even loved doing laundry. We shared a new intimacy. After breakfast we’d saddle up our horses and ride them through the hills. Sometimes he’d ride alone. I remember one day I happened to look out of the window. It was twilight. The sky was aglow in misty blue and radiant pink. There was Elvis walking Rising Sun, his Golden Palomino. I saw them as silhouettes against the darkening sky. Elvis was walking slowly, I could practically hear him breathe. His breathe was easy, his body relaxed. At that moment I was convinced that my husband had actually found peace.”
From ‘Elvis By The Presley’s’ Book
Edited by David Ritz
This piece of wood is ‘branded’ with the Flying Circle G Logo
Horn Lake Depot – picture kindly provided by the DeSoto County Museum
Bullfrog Corner interior (1930′s) – picture kindly provided by the DeSoto County Museum
Quote from Joe Esposito
“So Elvis cast himself in the role of ranch foreman. He no longer looked like a famous singer and movie star. Wearing a cowboy hat and sheepskin jacket and sitting tall in the saddle, he was a dead ringer for the Marlboro man. Every morning he saddled Rising Sun and rode out to issue instructions to the contractor on how to do things and where everything should go. Only one trailer was placed near the main house, the one designated for Alan Fortas —- who was supposed to be in charge of the ranch—-and his wife. Finally, everything was ready. We moved into our trailers, Elvis had all the horses shipped over, and we settled into ranch living. Of course, Elvis was so tickled by the notion of living in a trailer on his honeymoon that he asked Alan to move into the main house. Lisa Marie was conceived in that trailer. When he tired of living in the trailer and moved back into the house, he and Priscilla saddled their horses every morning and rode out back to join us for a cup of coffee. On weekends, we threw giant barbecues. The wives prepared all the food, except for the meat, which I cooked on an open grill. We had great times. For a year and a half after the marriage, between making movies we headed straight for the Circle G. Elvis felt very comfortable in his own little ranch world and usually hated being torn from it.”
Joe Esposito - From ‘TCB Diamond Joe’ Website