The escape of a leopard in Oklahoma City will recall for some of
Racine’s older residents a circus elephant, Prince, which went on a
rampage and killed its keeper in Racine, June 3, 1898.
leopard, which died, the elephant was captured and lived.
It was at
8:30 a.m. on June 3, 1898, that employees of the Wallace Circus were
unloading on the Fourteenth St. crossing of the Chicago & North
Western Ry, when Prince, a huge bull elephant, went on his rampage.
Streets were thronged with spectators, men, women, boys and girls in
horses and buggies, farm wagons, on bicycles and afoot.
“Jo” Anderson, 45, New York City, one of the best elephant men
in the business at that time, was leading a string of elephants west
on Fourteenth St. en route to the show grounds on Eighteenth St.
mounted on a white pony and nearing Junction Ave. when a youth is
said to have ridden his bike between the horse and elephant. This
apparently frightened Prince, who was chained to a female elephant
and trailed by a year old baby elephant. He stretched out his trunk
to grab the offender. Apparently by accident, the enraged bull,
which was trumpeting loudly by this time, seized his trainer and
pulled him from his horse.
trunk about the keeper, Prince slammed him against a high board
fence around the Joseph Moon property, Fourteenth St. and Junction
Ave. Then picking up the inert body and in the presence of a crowd
estimated at 500 persons, the bull threw Anderson into the center of
the street, kneeled down beside him and stabbed him with his ivory
tusks. The crowd stared in horror at the spectacle but could do
nothing and the bull proceeded to tromp on the prostrate body,
trumpeting all the time and dragging the chained female after him.
time”, reported the Racine Daily Journal of that date, “the monster
elephant was wild with rage and rushed up and down the streets,
first Fourteenth St., then Junction Ave., and then Washington Ave.
The crowds scattered in all directions, filling the Chris Slot
grocery and other stores in that section and leaping blindly over
high board fences and climbing into trees to get out of the way.
time,” continues the account,” circus men began arriving on the
scene and removed Anderson’s body to the Slot grocery. His eyes
rolled and he apparently still was alive. The elephant charged back
madly, ferociously seeking the injured keeper.
The police patrol arrived and the elephant made a dash for it but
Griff Williams, veteran driver, raced his team out of reach. Dr. A.
L. Buchan, who had been summoned, also had a narrow escape when the
bull charged his rig but he dashed down Fourteenth St. to safety.
Later the doctor reached the side of the injured man and reported
assistant animal trainer with the circus, arrived at this point on
his white pony whereupon Big Prince trumpeted and charged him. Reed
yelled and waved his hook at the beast which fell in behind him and
followed to the circus grounds where all three elephants were
securely chained under Reed’s direction.”
In a follow-up story the next day, June 4, the Journal told of the
wild excitement which followed the elephant’s rampage, how thousands
assembled on the grounds and watched the bull elephant which several
times threatened to break from his chains. In summing up, the story
estimated that besides causing Anderson’s death, Prince wrecked
eight bicycles, many of which were hurled high into the air and over
fences, overturned a circus wagon, smashed several chairs in front
of a barber shop and broke a plate glass window before being
The story also said keeper of the Lincoln park zoo in Chicago
refused a circus offer of $500 to come here and get Prince into his
box car. This feat finally was accomplished at 2 a.m. June 4 under
Reed’s direction and with all four feet of the elephant chained
together and his trunk linked to his front legs.
The afternoon and evening performances of the circus were carried
through on schedule with two riderless white horses leading the
grand opening procession. These were the mounts of Jo Anderson and
the afternoon performance, every circus employee who could get away
from the grounds, formed in a
procession and marched back of Anderson’s hearse to Mound cemetery
where a funeral address was given by Rev. Shendy.
Cemetery records show that every Christmas since that time, 52 years
ago, a large wreath is placed on Jo Anderson’s grave, evidence that
circus people do not forget their