Memorial to Little Bett the Elephant
Chepachet, Rhode Island
Hachaliah Bailey's interest in touring elephants did not end with Old Bet. Nor did his bad luck. He acquired a second elephant, Little Bett, who quickly replaced Old Bet in his pachyderm pantheon. But Hachaliah hadn't learned to stay out of Puritan New England, and it was there that, once again, tragedy struck.
It happened on the night of May 24, 1826. Little Bett and her trainer had just put on a show in Chepachet, and were crossing the only bridge out of town. Suddenly, shots rang out from a nearby grist mill. Little Bett was cut down instantly in a blizzard of musket fire; she never had a chance. The next day her carcass was skinned on the spot and the hide was shipped to the Boston Museum. She was only 12.
Seven men were eventually found responsible for the shooting, and two of them were dropped from the Masonic Order for their deed. But for the next 150 years most of the residents of Chepachet -- especially the Masonic residents -- were mum about Little Bett's murder.
Then Chepachet's historian decided that it was time to face the calliope music. He persuaded the Rhode Island General Assembly to proclaim May 25, 1976 "Elephant Day." On that occasion the citizens of Chepachet -- free at last to atone for their sins -- placed a commemorative plaque on the bridge to mark the spot where Little Bett had fallen.