Friday, May 2, 2014

Old Bet the elephant

Location:   Somers, New York
Year:  1794

The first elephant to come to America arrived here in 1794. A gentle African giant called "Betty" or "Old Bet" she was owned by Chachaliah Bailey, an upstate farmer-turned-showman, who exhibited Old Bet for the next twenty-two years.

Old Bet met a sad end in 1816, when an outraged farmer in Boothbay Harbor, Maine gunned Old Bet down, proclaiming that it was sinful to charge poor people money to see one of God's creatures. Apparently however, killing one of God's innocent creatures was not sinful. The man was charged and convicted of the crime.

Somers memorialized Old Bet by putting up a statue and renaming its biggest hostelry the Elephant Hotel.

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