Wednesday, July 24, 1816, a farmer took a life.

In Maine, a shot rang out and local farmers, town folk and circus performers were shocked and silenced by the dastardly deed. Questions were asked, but none could be answered. Onlookers gathered round the deceased being and stared in disbelief. Tears flowed like warm rivers, gasping sobs choked and shook the fragile bodies of the gaping children.

Eyes averted from the great, gray form of a beloved, majestic animal lying motionless on the damp earth. The colorful, bejeweled headdress now covered in blood and gore, soaked with sweat and stained forever with the heart and soul of Old Bet. 

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Her fellow performers, the animals of the menagerie, were mute and still. Their heads hung low and they moaned and they lowed and they softly roared. The music stopped and the flag went to half-staff. The stars and stripes waved sadly in the summer breeze. Men took off their hats and caps. Their hands they held over their hearts. Women took a dainty handkerchief, wiped their eyes and wept.

Old Bet’s owner, Hachaliah Bailey, bent at the waist, held his head, tears loosed from his eyes. He stated, “the physical pain will be easier to bear, my stomach twisted with fists of iron, my torn, wrenching guts I can endure but my broken heart will never heal.”

Old Bet will be buried in Alfred, Maine. The angry farmer who took her life into his own hands made a decision based on his beliefs that it was sinful to pay money to view one of God’s creations on the Sabbath. The only positive after affect is that Old Bet will be remembered for all time. There is talk of erecting a hotel in the town of Somers, N.Y. to commemorate the memory of Old Bet.

It will be called The Elephant Hotel.