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The first one to send me a picture of Joseph "Jo" Anderson's grave will win!

Bonus points if it has the Christmas wreath!

Look for the clues in the article below.



Racine Journal – Times                                                                 Saturday, March 4, 1950

Escape of Leopard Recalls Rampaging Elephant in Racine 


    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.

     Unlike the 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.

     Joseph “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.

     Jo was 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.

Slammed Into Fence.

     Wrapping his 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.

     “By this 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.

     “By this 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 him dead.

Follows Assistant.

     “Harry Reed, 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 subdued.

      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 his wife. 

     Following 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 own.




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