1796-America’s First Elephant-Almanac of Absurdities Flashback 4.13.2012

On this date in 1796, a trading ship called the “America” and Captained by Jacob Crowninshield docked in New York Harbor after a months long voyage from Calcutta, with some unusual Cargo. Along with Coffee, and other trade commodities, Crowninshield also had an Elephant. Crowninshield had picked up the young female Elephant in India at a good price…450 Dollars…and assumed he could get as much as five thousand dollars for the creature in the United States…when it became the first elephant ever seen in the new country. Actually he got twice that. The Elephant, in best King Kong tradition was introduced on Broadway, and made several appearances on the eastern seabord, and was eventually acquired by one Hackaziah Bailey. Bailey named the Elephant Old Bet, and created a small circus, of which old Bet was the main attraction. Eventually Hackaziah Bailey met P.T. Barnum and the rest is circus history. One story suggests that Old Bet was killed in 1815 by a deluded man in Maine who claimed the elephant was taking money away from the public, another that she was killed in another incident a year later, but the records of the time are unclear. But there is still a monument to Old Bet, the first elephant ever seen in the US at the Elephant Hotel in Somers New York.

Click here for the Almanac in Audio!


Album Notes:  Grateful Acknowledgements to Mike Koenig, and Drum 8. “Colossus” written and produced by Kevin MacLeod. Licensed under Creative Commons “Attribution 3.0″ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/ and used here by permission, and with appreciation and thanks.

About denniscmichael

Voice Artist, Writer, Journalist, even sometime actor. For 18 years the writer and voice for CNN's Hollywood Minute.
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