Charley's skull.

Big Charley the Elephant

Field review by the editors.

Peru, Indiana

Died 1901

Pet Cemetery.

Peru, at the turn of the century, was the winter headquarters for a number of circuses. One of these was the LaPearl Circus, and one of its elephants was a bull named Big Charley.

Big Charley was regarded with suspicion by the circus folk. The only human who had a rapport with him was Henry Huffman, his trainer. This arrangement worked well until April, 1901, when Henry was laid up in bed for three weeks. Charley had no one to take him down to the Wabash River for his usual bath. Big Charley got mad.

On April 25, 1901, when Henry reappeared, Big Charley let himself be led to the riverbank. Then he grabbed Henry, dashed his brains out against a log dock, and held him under water until he was sure he was dead. Big Charley followed Henry shortly thereafter, a victim of several well-placed bullets.

The Miami County Museum honors Big Charley by displaying his tusks, along with the skull of another elephant that has a bullet hole in it. "But we put 'em together," the curator explained. "For the school kids."

All other Big Charley relics vanished in the flood of 1913.

Also see: Elephant Burial Ground | Roadside Pet Cemetery

Big Charley the Elephant

Miami County Museum

51 N. Broadway, Peru, IN
Miami County Museum. US Hwy 24 to Business 31 exit, south into the center of town. Business 31 becomes N. Broadway. At the corner of 5th St. and N. Broadway, northbound side.
Tu-Sa 9 am - 5 pm (Call to verify) Local health policies may affect hours and access.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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Nearby Offbeat Places

Miami County Museum OdditiesMiami County Museum Oddities, Peru, IN - < 1 mi.
International Circus Hall of FameInternational Circus Hall of Fame, Peru, IN - 3 mi.
Barn with Semi Truck Shingle RoofBarn with Semi Truck Shingle Roof, Peru, IN - 6 mi.
In the region:
Muffler Man Indian: Parks & Recreation, Montpelier, IN - 44 mi.

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