On September 13, 1916, the town of Erwin, Tennessee, hung ‘Murderous Mary’ the elephant after she mauled one of her keepers to death the day before.
This is actually a macabre story of murder and revenge between an elephant and its inexperienced keeper. And it surely features the only elephant in history ever to have been hanged!
This horrifying story starts when Charlie Sparks’s circus train arrived in the small town of Kingsport, about 40 miles from Erwin, a booming American railroad town.
As always, the circus paraded along the main street. During the parade, an inexperienced keeper was put in charge of Mary, a five-ton Asian elephant and the main attraction of the show. To have control over ‘Murderous Mary’, the keeper goaded her with a spear, and hit an abscess. Bad for him! Mary dashed him against the ground and stood on his head until blood, brains and other stuff just squirted all over the street.
The terrified spectators screamed and fled. A local blacksmith shot Mary with a pistol without any effects. Then residents began baying for blood with chants of ‘Kill the elephant, kill the elephant.’ Charlie Sparks had no other choices to kill her! But how? Since bullets have been proven to be ineffective, they decided to hang ‘Murderous Mary’ using a railway crane in nearby Erwin!
Here a short movie about this unbelievable story:
At the same period, other animal killings were occurring. One of the most terrifying execution is that of another elephant, called Topsy, wich was killed by electrocution in New York in 1903. Look at the smoke billowing up from her feet when the switch is thrown: