What was the punishment imposed against “Murderous Mary” Sept. 13, 1916, in Erwin, Tennessee?
– firing squad
– life in prison
The Sparks circus came to Erwin, Tennessee, in September 1916. The circus hired Walter Eldridge as an assistant animal trainer, even though he had no experience in dealing with animals. During a parade to advertise the circus, Eldridge goaded Mary with a spear or hook, an action to which she reacted violently. Witnesses reported Mary threw Eldridge against a drink stand, crushing his skull. The town sentenced “Murderous Mary” to hang. Mary was an Asian elephant. Source: RareHistoricalPhotos.com
Mary (c. 1894–September 13, 1916) was a five-ton Asian elephant, also known as “Murderous Mary”, who performed in the Sparks World Famous Shows circus. After killing a trainer in Kingsport, Tennessee, she was hanged in nearby Erwin, Tennessee, in 1916. Her death is sometimes interpreted as a cautionary tale of circus animal abuse during the early 20th century.