Berrien Men Prepared for Spanish-American War at Camp Northen, GA

In the Spanish-American War, nowhere was there greater fervor than in Georgia.  “When the United States became involved in war with Spain, Georgia furnished according to population more volunteers than any other State of the Union.”

Among Berrien County, GA men who volunteered for service in the U.S. Army were Walter A. Griner, Carl R. O’Quinn, Pythias D. Yapp,, Zachary T. Hester, W. Dutchman Stephens, Samuel Z.T. Lipham, James M. Bridges, Charles A. Courson, Love Culbreath, George C. Flowers, James L. Jordan and George A. Martin.  All enlisted in Company D, 3rd Georgia Regiment, U.S. Volunteers.

Spanish-American War enlistment record of Walter A. Griner, Nashville, GA

Spanish-American War enlistment record of Walter A. Griner, Nashville, GA

The enlistments came as Georgia responded to the destruction of the battleship USS Maine in the harbor at Havana, Cuba.

“The federal government requested that Georgia supply 3,000 troops in the form of two regiments of infantry and two batteries of light artillery for the upcoming military campaigns in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Philippines. Five days later Governor William Y. Atkinson issued a call for men by setting various quotas for Georgia’s major cities. The first state induction camp [Camp Northen] was established at Griffin (the seat of Spalding County, GA) on May 4. Volunteer enlistments from the state were slow in coming, but Governor Atkinson eventually mobilized three infantry regiments and two light artillery batteries of the state militia…Only the Third Georgia Infantry would see any overseas duty and that was as an occupation force in Cuba during the first three months of 1899.” -New Georgia Encyclopedia

Want ad dated July 12, 1898 advertising for recruits for the 3rd Georgia Regiment US Volunteers

Want ad dated July 12, 1898 advertising for recruits for the 3rd Georgia Regiment US Volunteers

The 3rd Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers mustered in at Camp Northen (frequently and incorrectly called Camp Northern).  The camp was named for William J. Northen, two-term governor of Georgia from 1890-1894. The assembly of the Third Georgia Regiment, U.S. Volunteers was under the command of Colonel John Slaughter Candler.

Colonel John Slaughter Candler, commanding, 3rd Georgia Regiment, U. S. Volunteers, Camp Northen, Griffin, GA

Colonel John Slaughter Candler, commanding, 3rd Georgia Regiment, U. S. Volunteers, Camp Northen, Griffin, GA

 

The men of Company D, 3rd GA Regt, US Vols began arriving at Camp Northen in July 1898.

1898 sketch of soldiers at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

1898 sketch of soldiers at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

A visitor at Camp Northen observed,

“The men in camp here are a queer lot – a composite collection from all walks of life. Social, educational, commercial lines have been obliterated by a common unity, the foundation of which is patriotism. Patrician lies in the same tent, on the same straw bed, with plebeian without a thought of the distinction. There are lawyers, bankers, doctors, preachers, clerks, carpenters, farmers and blacksmiths in one company. Some of the very best and some of the humblest families in the state are represented in the ranks. A finer lot of fellows has never been got together, however, and they long for the day when they may splice Spanish hides with American bullets. There is fight in the old land yet.”

Camp Northen had been established about 1892 as the location of the annual encampment of the Georgia National Guard, the land being contributed by the people of Griffin. Prior to the assembly of the 3rd Georgia Regiment at Camp Northen, the camp had been occupied by the 1st Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers (Rays Immunes). The First Regiment moved to Chickamauga Park by mid-June 1898.

A street car line ran from Griffin to Camp Northen.  The Atlanta Constitution reported,

“Camp Northen is acknowledged by army officials to be one of the best sites for an encampment in the United States. It is situated on the side of a gently sloping hill in a dense grove of oaks. On top of the hill commanding a view of the entire camp is the Colonel’s tent with the tents of the adjutant, quartermaster, commissary and surgeons near by.

Just over the brow of the hill is a spring, the water of which is as pure as crystal and almost as cold as ice. The Grounds are lighted with electricity from the Griffin power house and ever company street is supplied with a water hydrant and shower bathhouse from Griffin’s waterworks system. All the company’s quarters are supplied with kitchens, mess halls, bath-houses, tents for privates and officers, the latter being situated at the head of the streets. “

Assistant Surgeon Joseph G. Jarrell, 1st Georgia Volunteer Infantry, said of the camp, in 1898 “every convenience in the way of bath houses, kitchens, and privies were at the disposal of the troops.

The camp facilities also included a hospital, Y.M.C.A. tent, an armory, rifle range and stables. The Atlanta Constitution observed, “Some of the prettiest horses ever seen in this part of the state belong to the officers stationed here. The colonels and their staffs and the majors ride, and all have purchased fine animals for use during the war.

There was a post office on the grounds and mail was delivered to the camp several times a day. As in all wars and times, the soldiers looked forward to mail call with great anticipation. The Southern Bell Telephone Company placed a phone booth near the colonel’s quarters with a long-distance telephone. Soldiers could telephone to and be telephoned from any part of the state. A large bulletin board near the telephone booth displayed the latest war bulletins from the office of the Atlanta Constitution.

In the summer of 1898, the 3rd Georgia Regiment was ill equipped.  There weren’t enough guns for all the men, and the guns they did have were older equipment from the state guard. It would be late September 1898 before “the long-looked-for new guns, canteens, knapsacks, etc arrived and were issued to the troops. They were the latest patent Springfield rifles, and each company was furnished with a gun for every man.”  The Krag-Jorgensen was the same rifle that would be used to kill a rampaging elephant in Valdosta, GA in 1902.

U.S. Model 1898 Springfield Krag-Jorgensen rifle

U.S. Model 1898 Springfield Krag-Jorgensen rifle

Guns or no guns, the men drilled. The daily routine of the camp was:

        At 5 a.m. one gun and a bugle call summoned the soldiers from their slumbers; fifteen minutes were allowed for dressing, followed by a cup of coffee and hardtack in the mess halls; one hour was then devoted to drilling on the parade grounds, after which the men marched back to their quarters for breakfast at 7 o’clock.
       Guard mount took place soon after breakfast, when the guard for the day was selected and the colonel chose the man making the best appearance from the ranks to be his orderly during the subsequent twelve hours.
       This was followed by regimental or company drills, after which the camps were policed and the streets cleaned up.  -Atlanta Constitution, May 9, 1898

1898 sketch of soldiers' life at Camp Northen, Georgia preparing for deployment in the Spanish-American War

1898 sketch of soldiers’ life at Camp Northen, Georgia preparing for deployment in the Spanish-American War

      “….the location of the tents and ..the tented homes of the soldiers are laid off in the same way as a town is laid off, except that it is more regular. Between the tents are streets and these streets need cleaning every day, just as the streets of Atlanta are cleaned by a hired force at night. The parade grounds, too, are known as the prettiest in the south, and it is known, too, that from that same large spacious lawn trash which accumulates every day must be removed.
       But, unlike a city, the work of cleaning the streets or walks in the camp and of removing the debris from the drill ground is not done by hired men. It is done by the boys of Georgia, the pride and bone of the state…To see some of the pets of Atlanta’s society, to say nothing about the society boys of other cities of the state sweeping the street, clouds of dust coming around them, while others handled wheelbarrows into which the dirt was thrown by still others, and over all an officer standing, whose social position was away down in the grade, comparatively speaking, would convince even the loving mothers of the boys that, in the army at least, there was no distinction. -Atlanta Constitution, June, 1894

By order of the camp commander company streets, ground about tents, the kitchens, bathrooms and sinks were placed in thorough police every morning at police call under the supervision of company commanders. The regimental camp was inspected daily by the colonel or field officers.

1898 sketch of soldier on detail cleaning company streets at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

1898 sketch of soldier on detail cleaning company streets at Camp Northen, near Griffin, GA

Dinner occurred at 12 o’clock, after which the men were given a rest, while the officers held a conference on matters of moment, usually at the colonel’s headquarters, during which an officer usually delivered a dissertation on the matter up for discussion; another drill occurred at 4 o’clock, and dress parade and review at 6 o’clock; supper was served at about 7 o’clock and the men are given another rest until 10 o’clock, when the bugle ordered them to retire.

Beds were made out of clean straw covered with a blanket, of which each man had two. The ground inside the tents was covered with a low wooden platform and a small ditch was dug on the outside to prevent the water from coming in contact with the sleeper.

For the recruits at Camp Northen the arrival of the paymaster was a joyous occasion.  By noon on payday every man had received the months pay and that evening a large number of them were in the city parting with it.  An unfortunate fifty men, under the command of a company captain, were detailed to the city in the afternoon to keep down the disturbances among the men. Perhaps only second in significance to payday were the days that young lady visitors were entertained at the camp, under appropriate escort, of course.  On these days, the men confined to the hospital were cheered by the visitors. “The young ladies were entertained at lunch by the officers of the regiment. In the afternoon occurred the review and drill, which at the hour of sunset presented a most picturesque appearance. The men were splendidly drilled...”

A camp inspection by Lieutenant Colonel Peter J. A. Cleary, Deputy Surgeon General of the Department of the Gulf, reported in the October 31, 1898 Atlanta Constitution, that there was a shortage of bedsacks and straw at the camp. Some of the men had mattresses, but they were their own private property.

The Hospital

Lt Col. Cleary also inspected the hospital:

The hospital consists of a number of tents and one frame building, used partly as a hospital and partly as a dispensary. The sick were all provided with cots, with wire springs and mattresses. They seemed to have plenty of blankets. There were no serious cases in the hospital, though there were several convalescing from typhoid and other fevers. The men appear to be contented and the surgeon stated that he had ample supplies on hand in the way of food and medicines. I found, however, that the cots they used were rented and directed him to make requisition for any number of cots he needed, which will be supplied him at once. A large portion of the blankets in the hospital belong to the men. This also will be remedied, as he will be supplied with enough blankets without having to use those belonging to the men. He will need stoves for his tents, and was directed to make a request on the quartermaster for as many as he required, which, I presume, will be supplied him without delay. On the whole I find that the men were properly cared for and really were not suffering from anything.

Hospital Volunteers

1898 engraving of Mrs. DeForest Allgood, of Griffin GA

1898 engraving of Mrs. DeForest Allgood, of Griffin GA. Mrs. Allgood was a leading supporter of the hospital at Camp Northen during the Spanish-American War

Atlanta Constitution
November 20, 1898

Atlanta, Savannah, Macon, Augusta, Americus, Albany and Rome have all given to patriotic work representative women, and probably no city in the state proportional to its size has done more than Griffin, the little city that has for so long been the scene of the state encampments and near which is the present encampment of the Third Georgia Regiment.
The women of Griffin were among the first in the state to organize a relief association, and they have in their treasury at present over $1,200, which has been raised through their individual efforts in various ways.
Among the women of this association – which is like the Atlanta Relief Association, individual and distinctive – who have distinguished themselves for noble and unselfish work is Mrs. de Forrest Algood, the vice president.
Not only has she given money in generous contributions, but she has gone into the hospital and administered to the soldier as only a noble woman can. She has soothed many a suffering soldier into a quiet sleep by the tenderness of her solicitude and attentions; she has prepared with her own hand delicious delicacies that have been relished by the convalescing, and no soldier of the Third regiment who has known the discomfitures of a camp hospital will fail to murmur a blessing when the name of queenly and womanly Mrs. Algood is mentioned.
All the time when the hospital was crowded with men during September and early in October and when the practical assistance of the relief associations was given Mrs. Algood saw further necessity of trained assistance and offered to send two male nurses at her own expense, but the offer was refused.
An incident relative to her womanly consideration is told by a young officer who witnessed her devotion to an aged mother who had come to the deathbed of her son in the camp hospital.
When she reached there she was informed that he was dying. The anguish seemed insupportable till the strong arm of Mrs. Allgood came to her assistance, and with consoling, sympathetic words, she accompanied her to the camp. There lay the young soldier apparently cold in death, only a gasping breath now and then to tell the story of a struggling atom of life. But sobs from a mother’s aching heart, the warmth of the mother love and the tender words of the woman with her seemed to quiet the struggling life into more peacefulness. Warmth returned to the body and continued ministrations restored a consciousness that enabled the young soldier to once more recognize his mother.
Then for three days and three nights there was the agony of suspense, each hour seeming to be the one that would separate the young soldier forever from his mother. She sat patiently with him during this dreary period, but not alone, for by her side, whispering words of comfort, was Mrs. Algood. She had known sorrow and the sorrow of losing a child, and for every sigh that the elder mother drew the younger was in sympathy with her, and when the last did come and the young soldier sank back cold in death, the head of his grief-stricken mother was pillowed upon the shoulder of the beautiful and sympathetic young mother, who had watched with her, and not until the body of the soldier, borne by six comrades, was placed upon the train did Mrs. Algood return to her home from the camp where she had performed her work of womanly sympathy and comfort.

The Regimental Band

As was the typical practice, the Third Georgia Regiment had a regimental band. But unlike the national guard regiments, which usually hired musicians to form the band, the regular US Army refused to hire bands unless they were enlisted. At Camp Northen, a regimental band was one of the attractions of the camp. Prof. C. O. Pollard was the chief musician, H. P. Dane principal musician, and Edward Griggs of Dawson was appointed second principal musician. Josephus N. Slater was drum major. Other musicians included Eustice Hilliard, Burress Hall, Morris Stein, Arnold Stovall, Joseph J. Thompson, Walter C. Wilkerson, Frank H. Wilkie, and Ralph E. Wright.

Regimental Band of the 3rd Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers, Spanish American War. Image source: http://www.spanamwar.com/3rdGeorgiaband.htm

Regimental Band of the 3rd Georgia Regiment U.S. Volunteers, Spanish American War. Image source: http://www.spanamwar.com/3rdGeorgiaband.htm

The US flag was raised early every morning at Camp Northen, and the state flag was displayed in front of the Colonel’s headquarters. Every man was required to remove his hat when passing the flag.  The ceremony of lowering of the flag  which occurred every afternoon while the regimental band played the Star Spangled Banner attracted many visitors from Griffin.

YMCA

A Y.M.C.A. tent was established at Camp Northen prior to the assembly of the Third Georgia Regiment, which was to accompany the regiment wherever it was sent. The YMCA tent was opened under the direction of Frank K. Boland, of Atlanta, a graduate of the University of Georgia and a student in the Southern Medical College. The staff were issued army passes to travel with the troops and receive the same salary and rations apportioned to enlisted men.

“In the hardships of camp life through which the Georgia volunteers [experienced] while waiting for the order to march on Cuba they [were] cheered and strengthened, physically and spiritually, by the branch associations of the state Young Men’s Christian Association…” The Atlanta Constitution reported, “The army tent is circular in shape and forty feet in diameter, offering ample room for all the men of the regiment who desire to attend meetings. Papers and magazines will be kept on file in the tent and games, such as crokinole and checkers will be kept for those who care for the pastime. Hymn books and bibles have been furnished… and religious services will be held regularly in the tent.” Reading materials and writing facilities were provided. The men of the camp who were so inclined attended prayer meetings, Bible classes and other religious activities at the Y.M.C.A. tent.

1898 sketch of YMCA tent at Camp Northen near Griffin, GA.

The YMCA also added a commissary department to the army tent “used to furnish those of the Georgia troops who are indisposed and not sick enough to be sent to the hospital with nourishing food and careful treatment.” The YMCA anticipated, “Many of the experienced soldiers will be subject to despondency and home sickness, to whom the Young Men’s Christian Association will reach out a helping hand.” Former Governor W. J. Northen was chairman of the fundraising to support the YMCA tents at Camp Northen and other Georgia encampments.

The 3rd Georgia Regiment, under the command of Colonel John S. Candler, completed its organization August 24, 1898 at Camp Northen, where the regiment remained until November 21, when it boarded the train to Savannah, GA in preparation for embarkation to Cuba. In 1899 the 3rd Georgia Regiment returned to Georgia and was mustered out at Augusta, GA.

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Bones of Gypsy the Elephant

A small note in the December 6, 1952 edition of The Billboard, entertainment industry trade magazine, unceremoniously observed the 50th anniversary of  the circus tragedy in which Gypsy the elephant killed her trainer at Valdosta, GA rampaged through the town, and was shot dead.  The article read:

Charlie Campbell, ahead of Don Robinson Circus, reports a resident of Ray City, Ga., has some large bones reputed to be from an elephant, Gypsy, executed there while with the Harris Nickel Plate Circus in 1901.

The Billboard, December 6, 1952 clipping reported bones of Gypsy the elephant at Ray City, GA

The Billboard, December 6, 1952 clipping reported bones of Gypsy the elephant at Ray City, GA

Gypsy the elephant was actually killed in Lowndes County near Cherry Creek in 1902, after trampling her trainer and escaping from the Harris Nickel Plate Circus. She was shot by Valdosta Police Chief Calvin Dampier.  In the ensuing days more than 3000 people came to see the dead elephant.

Virtually from the instant of her execution, there was talk of preserving Gypsy’s skeleton. Eyewitnesses  reported that some visitors took trophies and souvenirs from the body of the  slain pachyderm, before the 12,000 pound carcass was finally hacked apart and burned.

Did the bones of Gypsy the elephant eventually make their way to Ray City, GA?

Valdosta Police Chief Dampier used a borrowed Mauser rifle to bring down the rampaging elephant, Gypsy, in November 1902.

Valdosta Police Chief  Calvin Dampier used a borrowed Mauser rifle to bring down the rampaging elephant, Gypsy, in November 1902.

The tragic events that occurred at Valdosta, the trampling death of James O’Rourke and the execution of the beast he trained were almost inevitable given the bloody history of Gypsy the Elephant. Even the circus train’s travel to Valdosta, GA, foreshadowed the impending doom awaiting them at their final destination.  On October 28, 1902 two cars of the Harris tNickel Plate Circus train were derailed at Dothan, AL  According a a lawsuit filed by the circus owner, the two derailed circus rail cars were broken to pieces, the circus wagons loaded on the rail cars were broken and smashed as were the tent poles, seasts and canvas. The wagon known as the “bank wagon” and the “lion den” was turned over and demolished. One of the lions died from injuries and another was crippled. As a result of the accident, the circus was forced to cancel its engagement at Bainbridge, GA but was able to resume travel to its show in Valdosta. As the circus and menagerie were in route the Harris Nickel Plate Circus train was wrecked at Tifton, GA in a collision with another train.  Several of the show people were injured. Another show wagon was demolished, one of the largest and heaviest in the troupe. One of the show’s finest ring horses was crippled and had to be put down.

Surely the show people were relieved to reach Valdosta, which was to be their season finale’. After the Valdosta performance, the show people would winter over in the town before resuming their exhibition circuit in the spring.

The circus disaster that occurred in Valdosta was first reported in the Valdosta Times with a printing that came to be known as “the Elephant Edition,” and quickly  swept across the nation:

The Valdosta Times
Tuesday, November 25, 1902

ELEPHANT GYPSY GOES WILD AND IS KILLED NEAR HERE.

 The Monster Brute of the Harris Nickel-Plate Shows Tramples  Her Keeper to Death  and Runs Amuck —

After Terrorizing the Business Portion of the City,  she Dashes out to Pine Park and was Shot Down Six Miles Above the City Sunday Morning.

 Valdosta experienced a sensation Saturday night such as no other city in the country has ever witnessed.
     It was a chase by scores of people after a monster five ton elephant, which had trampled its keeper to death and was standing in defiance of all who should come within reach.
      After a chase lasting all night long and far into Sunday  morning, the big brute was killed by Chief of Police Dampier, six miles above the city, with a single shot from a Krag-Jorgensen rifle.  The anima had been shot dozens of times  in the past, and this is said to have been the first animal of the kind ever killed with a rifle ball in this country.
       The elephant belonged to the Harris Nickel Plate Shows, which gave two performances here Saturday and which broke tents that night to go into winter quarters at Pine Park.  The animal was named “Gypsy” and she had been seen many times in this city.  She was one of the largest elephants in the world.  The show was here for two weeks during the State Fair and gave two performances daily, the acts by “Gypsy” being features of the performances.
      The show went from here to Lake City for two performances and then visited Macon, Cordele, Tifton, and  other places along the Georgia Southern road, returning here Saturday morning for the last two performances of the season.

Elephant under perfect control.

The big beast was in charge of James O’Rourke, who seemed to have her under perfect control.  She was an exceedingly intelligent anima and her acts in the circus ring were the cleverest ever witnessed here.   Among them was the blowing of a harmonica.  Gypsy being the only elephant in the word which had been trained to blow a wind instrument of any kind.
      All day Saturday, O’Rourke, the elephant’s trainer, complained of being sick and that afternoon he began to take quinine and whiskey in pretty liberal doses.   He was seen to take a drink of whiskey just before mounting the elephant to go to the park and one of the showmen spoke to him and suggested that he had “better cut that out.”
      At O’Rourke’s command, the elephant kneeled down and he crawled up on her head and then he gave the signal for her to move on.  The great beast started off from the show grounds east of the city hall, toward Patterson street and thence to the Georgia Southern passenger depot where O’Rourke expected to get a change of clothing to put on. He remained at the circus cars a short while and started back up town along Patterson street, turning at Hill avenue toward the show grounds, but turning again at Ashley street toward Central avenue.  The showmen say that the elephant expected to go  in the car at the depot and when she was brought back  up town it angered her.

      Turned Down Wrong Street 

      The turn at Ashley street was made and Gypsy ambled along toward Central avenue, where a turn was made to the left, leading toward Patterson street, but crossing that street and continuing the slow pace toward Toombs street.  A number of parties on the street called out to O’Rourke and told him that he was going the wrong way, but he paid no attention to them.  Chief Dampier was sitting at his stable when the elephant passed there and he called O’Rourke’s attention to the fact he was on the wrong street, but a mumbled answer came from the man on the elephant’s head, and the chief supposed that he wanted to go a side street to get out of the way of the vehicles and street cars on Patterson street.
      Two young men, Smith and Christian, followed the elephant from Patterson street to Toombs and were close to her when O’Rourke fell off of her head.  They stated that the elephant stopped a moment as if to wait for him to resume his position, but a moment later she kneeled down over him and crushed every bone in his body, rolling the limp body along with her trunk and tusks for probably fifty yards.

Her Keepers’ Death Reported.

      She then turned toward the side of the street and began grazing on the grass there as if nothing had happened.  Chief Dampier heard her crushing O’Rourke and ran over close enough to see that he could do nothing for the man.  He then went to the circus and informed the managers of what had taken place.  In a short while the entire circus force was on the ground trying to control the animal, while Manager Wilson and Sheriff Passmore were trying to get the crowds to stand back.
One of the clowns ,  Barney Shea, who was formerly her keeper, undertook to lead her toward the depot and place her on the cars there and it was believed that he would succeed, as the animal knew his voice and followed him nearly to the Plant System depot.  In the meantime, a large crowd had gathered and excitement was running high. A train was stopped on the crossing where the elephant was to pass and this, together with the excited crowds, seemed to rattle her.
      She turned back toward the Christian church, from which some of the members of the circus were calling to her in “elephant talk,” but it was apparent that she was getting thoroughly aroused.  She grabbed an electric  light pole with her trunk and shook it until the lights flew out all along the street.  Then, she began to hurl bricks and pieces of timber through the air.

Elephant Thoroughly Aroused.

      Billy  Mincer, another of the clowns in the circus, was hemmed in a rear door of the new Christian church but was pulled out and hurled some distance of the angry animal.   She started to renew her attack upon him but he was pulled out of the way by some parties  who were near by.  He was in an unconscious condition and was carried to the Valdes Hotel for medical.  In the meantime Barney Shea and Clem Kerr, the latter being  the advance agent  of the circus, were in the new Christian church calling to “Gypsy” and trying to get her under control.  Shea fired at her with a pistol several times,  but the bullets did no harm except to make her mad.
      For a couple of hours the elephant was master of the situation in that section of the city.   She seemed to pay very little attention to home folks , but a number of times indicated a very keen desire to get hold of some of the circus crowd. They seemed to fear her more than anyone else, probably because they knew her better and they were careful to keep out of her way.  Especially is this true of Barney Shea, her former manager, who stated that she had old grudges against him that she would never forget.
      After an hour or two spent in promenading up and down the side walk in front of the Valdes Hotel and the new Christian church, Gypsy turned up Toombs street in a full gallop and as far as the eye could reach under the swinging electric lights  her huge form swayed along with the alertness of a rabbit.  Her steps by actual measurement were eight or nine feet each.  She followed Toombs street to the vacant lot beyond the residence Mr. B. H. Jones when she cut across to Patterson street and went on to the park.

The Big Brute at Pine Park.

       Then Chief Dampier and a large posse followed her to the park for the purpose of killing her, as she had proven herself entirely unmanageable and her owner, Mrs. Harris, had stated that she could not rest until she was sure the brute was dead.  Her former keeper Shea got in the stand over the State Fair office and called her to him.  She was in the rear end of the fair grounds but she answered his call.  Chief Dampier and his posse were on top of the ticket office.  The big beast walked up within fifty yards of them and stopped.  The moon was behind the clouds and only a dim outline of her could be gotten.  The chief drew his Krag-Jorgensen rifle  and fired at her two or three times.
      The wounds were evidently painful, but not fatal to her.  She gave one shriek and started on a full fun toward the fence  in the rear of the grounds.  She found a plank off and, with her huge trunk, brushed away a panel or two of the fencing like it was a row of tooth picks.     She took  the cross road toward the Cat Creek road and turned up that to Cherry Creek.  It was then nearly four o’clock Sunday morning.  Chief Dampier and his posse followed her for some distance and then returned to the city get lunches, secure horses and wait for light to  dawn upon the scene.

The Chase Toward Cherry Creek.

      By day light, the chief and his crowd were ready to go on the hunt again.  His posse consisted of his first lieutenant,  Mr. M. A. Briggs and Messrs.  James Gates, D. A. Sinclair, Lawrence Walker, Roy Hightower, Dave Roberts and one or two other  parties.  Mr. Briggs and Chief Dampier were in a buggy, while the other parties were on horse back.  They left the city about five o’clock and followed the big animal out toward Cherry Creek on the Nashville Road.  At several places they saw where the elephant  had stopped in the road and had stood there some time, the impression on the ground looking as if she had lain down.
      The first sight of t.he big mountain of flesh and blood was near Cherry Creek and all came to a halt.  The elephant, blind in one eye, was standing across the road with his good eye turned toward the city evidently watching in that direction.  Her big body was swaying to and fro after the manner that elephants sway themselves when standing still.  When she caught a view of the crowd she turned toward the north and started off in a rapid walk.
      The parties lighted and started in pursuit through the woods.  The elephant finally came to a stop and Chief Dampier ran around to her side, taking a position probably seventy-five yards from her.  The excitement of the chase, together with its fatigue had made him nervous and he was afraid to try and fire at her without taking good aim.  The chief got a good rest for his weapon on a fence and took deliberate aim at her head.  The Krag-Jorgensen rifle cracked with a sharp “ping” and the big brute fell to her knees and then over on her side.  One shot had  done the perfect work of destroying her life and when the parties reached her she was nothing more than a huge bulk of inanimate flesh.

Elephant’s Death Reported.

      Chief Dampier fired one more shot into her head and other members of the party fired two or three times from their Winchesters and pistols.  An examination of the death-wound showed that the bullet entered her temple and went probably three feet deep in her head.  Another shot from the Krag-Jorgensen rifle had gone entirely through her neck.  The Winchester shots had only entered an inch or two and had probably done no more than tickle her.
      Chief Dampier and his posse returned to the city and reported the death of the elephant, and the announcement came as a great relief to the circus people.  They had been uneasy all night long and were really glad to know that the great brute had been killed, even though it was a big financial loss to them.  All day Sunday large crowds went out on the scene of the killing and scarcely anything else was talked about on the streets.  The tragedy of the night before and the excitement incident to the chase after the big animal made it the most sensational event that Valdosta has ever known.

Burial of the Dead Keeper.

      The body of the dead keeper, O’Rourke, was carried to Ulmer’s undertaking rooms and prepared for burial.  It  was found that several of his bones were broken and the body was badly bruised.  It was placed in a very fine casket, bought by Mrs. Harris, owner of the Nickel Plate shows, and was buried in the city cemetery Sunday afternoon at four o’clock,  the services being read by Mr. J. Duffy, of the Catholic church.  The hearse was drawn to the cemetery by six beautiful white horse and all of the circus people, together with many from the city, attended the funeral.
      O’Rourke, it is said, had been with the circus for a number of years and had always managed the elephant.  He came from San Francisco, though his family resides in New Orleans.  It is said that he came near losing his life once or twice under “Gypsy’s” huge form, but was rescued.  It is also said that several times, while he was intoxicated,  the animal had picked him up and placed him in the car, and that on other occasions she has lifted him back on her head when he had fallen off.  The animal was very docile at times, but on other occasions she has been perfectly unmanageable, having been sentenced to death a half dozen times and each time given a lease on life because the means of killing her were so hard to obtain.

Dead Elephant Draws Crowd.

      The body of the elephant was buried a short distance from where she fell dead Sunday morning.  A half dozen horses were used to drag the remains to the grave, but they were unequal to the task and the body was finally cut to pieces with axes and moved a part at a time, four horses being used for the task.
    The dead elephant proved to be a drawing card for hundreds of people from this city, as well as the surrounding country.  It is estimated that fully three thousand people visited the place where she was killed to get a view of her huge carcass, many of these walking six or seven miles to see the sight.
      Mr. T. G. Powers, of the Harris Shows, one of the animal trainers, was formerly in charge of “Gypsy” and knows her history as well as any other living man.  He stated to a TIMES reporter yesterday that the animal was about sixty-five years of age and that  she was among the first elephants ever brought to this country.  She was imported by the O’Brien circus, which travelled through the country in wagons in 1847.   She has been owned by nearly all of the big shows in the country, each one of them disposing of her on account of her temper, though at fabulous prices owing to her wonderful intelligence.

Traits of the Big Animal.

      Mr. Powers stated that she had killed a half a dozen keepers in by-gone years and in each instance she had delivered the death blow only when she had every advantage of her keeper.  Like all other elephants, she never forgot a kindness or an injury.  She would harbor an unkind act for years and then avenge it after the one who did it had forgotten all about it.  Last year, in Chicago, she ran amuck and was conquered by Mrs. Harris, a delicate, frail little woman, who had nerve enough to rush at her with a pitchfork and defy her.  On another occasion she would have killed the same woman had not O’Rourke, who was killed Saturday night, run to her rescue.  Mrs. Harris remembered this act when she gave an order for a fine casket and for the dead man to be given a decent burial.
      Gypsy  is probably the only elephant of her size that has ever been killed by a rifle ball, and her death is a great advertisement for the Krag-Jorgensen army rifles, as well as for Chief Dampier who fired the fatal shot.  Only a could of weeks ago on of the Barnum Elephants was carried twenty miles to sea out of New York, and three or four tug boats were used to hang her and sink her remains into the sea.

The Story Will Live for Years.

      The killing of an elephant in the woods near Valdosta will be a story which will be told to generations yet unborn and it is highly probable that the veracity of many a truthful man will suffer from having repeated the tale.  Even now, it is almost hard to believe, but the bones and white ivory tusks will form relics that will be kept for years by many who desire to keep such trophies to substantiate the fact.
      There has been some talk of saving the skeleton of the big animal and mounting it for exhibition in this city.  If such a thing can be done, the people of Valdosta can afford to pay a good price for it.
      The death of Gypsy has given Valdosta more publicity than anything that has ever happened here, as there is hardly a paper in country that has not printed the story of Saturday night’s chase and its final results.

The Atlanta Constitution published  additional details of Gypsy’s final rampage at Valdosta:

The Atlanta Constitution
November 24, 1902

KEEPER’S LIFE CRUSHED OUT BY ELEPHANT
Infuriated Beast Tramples and Then Rolls on James O’Rourk’s Body.

ANOTHER MAN INJURED BY BLOW FROM TRUNK

Huge Animal Then Becomes Crazed After Shots Fired Into Its Body at Valdosta and Escapes.  Found at Daylight and Killed.

      Valdosta, Ga., November 23. _(Special.) Gipsy, the huge performing elephant of the Harris Nickel Plate Show, became unmanageable after the performance in this city last night and killed her keeper, James O’Rourk. Another member of the show was also injured in endeavoring to capture and chain the infuriated animal.
      The show people lost all control on the elephant and after terrorizing a goodly portion of the people on Toombs street, she made her escape to the country, where she was followed and shot to death near Cherry Creek, 6 miles north of the city, after an all night chase.
      The mad creature’s escapade created intense excitement, and although it occurred after 12 o’clock at night, a large crowd was attracted to the scene.

Gipsy Becomes Unruly.

      The elephant went through her usual performance in the ring in an apparently docile manner, but became unruly before the tents were struck. It was the last performance of the season, the show going into winter quarters at Pane park, near the city. After the show O’Rourk started with the elephant to the park, riding on her head. He is thought to have been under the influence of whisky and is said to have left the show ground scolding and prodding the already maddened creature. Near the Baptist church the keeper fell off the elephant, striking the ground almost in front of her. All the evil in her huge body seemed aroused when the man struck the ground and before he could make a move to save himself she placed her ponderous feet on his body and crushed his life out. She knelt on the body and then rolled the insensible and dying man along with her trunk for 75 yards.

Former Keeper Injured.

       Only a few people witnessed the killing, but a considerable crowd soon gathered. Other members of the show attempted to secure and chain Gypsy, tossed the dead keeper’s body aside and went to eating the grass along the side of the street, A former keeper, to whom the animal once seemed greatly attached, called her name several times and went up to her. With rare cunning she allowed him to approach within arm’s length, when she threw her trunk out with lightning rapidity and knocked him half across the street, afterwards continuing her way out to the northern part of the city.
A crowd followed her out to the park, where an effort was made to kill her.  Several shots from pistols and a mauser rifle were fired into her body, but their first effect only seemed to enrage her, and with vicious lunges she scattered the crowd, and then mashing the park fences made her escape. The pursuit was kept up but the crowd lost sight of the huge creature in the dark. She was easily tracked however, and a number of places were found where she had lain down, the shots from the rifle evidently having begun to take effect. About daylight the crowd came up with the sorely wounded elephant 6 miles from town, and another shot from the mauser rifle in the side of the head rolled her over dead.

With Show Twelve Years.

      O’Rourk, the dead keeper is said to have been from New Orleans, though his people live in San Francisco. He had been with the Harris show for ten or twelve years and had charge of Gipsy for the greater portion of this time.
      The elephant was one of the largest in the country and weight about 12,000 pounds. She had a bad record, having killed ten men previous to her break last night. She was splendidly trained, and notwithstanding her unenviable reputation was a very valuable animal. The Harris show is said to have refused an offer of $6,000 for her.
Mrs. Harris, the owner of the show, begged that Gipsy’s life be spared, but is said to have expressed herself as greatly relieved when informed of the elephant’s death this morning.
      O’Rourk’s body was interred at the city cemetery this afternoon.

Related posts:

Bloody History of Gypsy the Elephant

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