JFK+50: Volume 5, No. 1918FIRST PACHYDERM ARRIVES IN USA
New York City (JFK+50) Two centuries and twenty years ago today, April 13, 1796, Captain Jacob Crowninshield* of the ship America arrived here in New York City with the first elephant to ever be seen in America.
Captain Crowninshield purchased the two year old female pachyderm in India for $450 and was planning to sell her for $5000.
According to George G. Goodwin, a New York newspaper reported that the Captain had "brought home an elephant from Bengal in perfect health. It is a female, two years old."
The elephant, originally sold to a Mr. Owen for $10,000, was put on exhibit in Boston on June 25, 1804. It was eventually acquired by Hackaliah Bailey and given the name "Old Bet." Mr. Bailey became co-founder of the Barnum and Bailey Circus.
Some sources claim that Old Bet was killed by a farmer in Maine in 1816 who thought it sinful for people to pay to see an elephant.
Hackaliah Bailey built the Elephant Hotel in Somers, New York in 1824 and erected a monument in front of the hotel to Old Bet.
"The Crowninshield Elephant," by George G. Goodwin, Natural History, www.naturalhistorymag.com/
"The Story of 'Old Bet', the Circus Elephant," Historic Hudson Valley, www.hudsonvalley.org/