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Site of Old Bet the Elephant Slaying.

Where Old Bet the Elephant was Killed

Field review by the editors.

Alfred, Maine

The second elephant to ever be seen in the United States, and the first to be assassinated, was Old Bet (short for Betty or Elizabeth). On July 24, 1816, Old Bet was on tour -- most Americans had never seen an elephant -- when she was shot dead on this spot by what the newspapers called a "wretch" and "miserable vagabond" named Daniel Davis. He apparently saw Old Bet as an evil temptress, luring poor farmers to spend their money by looking at an elephant.

Old Bet was so big that she had to be buried where she fell. But she didn't stay buried. The interest in Old Bet was strong enough that her owner, Hachaliah Bailey, dug up Old Bet's bones and skin and sold them to exhibitors in New York City. Her remains were still drawing a crowd five years later. Then they vanished from the public record, probably perishing in one of the many fires that consumed America's highly combustable early museums.

In 1963, on the 147th anniversary of Old Bet's assassination, a bronze plaque on a small granite block was placed on the elephant's murder site. According to its inscription, it was funded by the local historical society and a group named "Circus Fans America."

Where Old Bet the Elephant was Killed

5 Swetts Bridge Rd, Alfred, ME
South of town. Small plaque on a small granite block. On the east side of the ME-4 highway, a few yards past the York County Jail, in front of the Food Pantry, at the corner of Swetts Bridge Road and ME-4.
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In the region:
Museum of Dumb Guy Stuff, Portsmouth, NH - 26 mi.

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