Why a Farmer from Alfred Killed One of the First Circus Elephants
A legend in the town of Alfred talks about a circus elephant that came to town and the farmer who decided to take her life.
Have you ever heard the story of Old Bet?
It's an interesting tale that starts with Hachaliah Bailey. Yup, that Bailey, as in the Barnum and Bailey circus. Bailey was a farmer in upstate New York when he bought an elephant for about $1,000. He had seen the elephant in Boston around 1804 and, when he learned that it was for sale several years later, decided to buy it. He thought it would make an excellent farm animal but soon found that his neighbors would pay a small fee just for a glimpse of the exotic beast.
Bailey decided to take her on the road.
He added a few other unusual animals and start touring around with them, to make money. It was going pretty well until he decided to swing up through Maine, where surely his elephant would be an oddity worth paying to see. But it turned out to be a bad idea.
The farmer and Old Bet
As the legend goes, Old Bet came to York County in July of 1816, where people ponied up the admission price to catch a glimpse. But, according to Historic Hudson Valley, a farmer named Daniel Davis reportedly was offended by the idea of taking money from poor people and decided to fatally shoot Old Bet. As legend has it, she was buried in Alfred, where a marker still commemorates her, near the York County Jail. Apparently, however, the elephant's remains are no longer there, having been retrieved in order to be put on display.
There's An Elephant Hotel Named for the Fated Pachyderm
In Somers, New York, a statue of Old Bet stands in front of the 'Elephant Hotel,' founded by Hachaliah Bailey in memory of his beloved animal.
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