History

This section contains the newspaper clippings concerning animals or people depicted on the quilt

Page 1_1859

November 1859

A MAD ELEPHANT AT LARGE

THE FREAKS OF VAN AMBURGH’S HANNIBAL—EXCITING SCENES AND INCIDENTS.

                  An exciting scene was witnessed in Williamsburgh about 10 o’clock on Friday morning. Van Amburgh’s Menagerie, stationed on South Fifth street, between South and Seventh streets, was the locale of the occurrence. While a lad was unloading sawdust from a wagon within the exhibition tent, Old Hannibal, the elephant, broke out into one of his periodical fits of fury, and making towards the horse, aimed a blow at him with his trunk. Missing the animal, the blow fell upon the neck of the boy, but with greatly diminished force, or he must have been killed instantly. Again he attacked the horse, and the frightened animal, after a severe hug from the elephant’s trunk, darted off, dashing the vehicle against the center-pole, disengaging himself at the same time, and running into the street. Hannibal deliberately tore the wagon to pieces, flinging the wheels about like toys. The cages containing the wild beasts next engaged his attention; and from the reckless way in which he turned over and smashed up the habitations of the bears, hyenas, wolves, zebras, and other wild animals, it was probable that the whole menagerie would soon be let loose on the streets.

The circumstances of the affair appear to be as follows: The animal is notorious for its periodical fits of fury, during which it is quite unmanageable, and commits most violent attacks upon everything and everybody that comes in its way. The immediate cause of his outbreak on Friday, appears to have been a sudden dislike which he took to the horse, and it was against that animal that his first attack was directed. Taking advantage of the absence of his keeper, he rushed at it, and endeavored to strike it with its trunk. The horse swerved suddenly, and the blow, although with greatly diminished, fell upon the boys neck, injuring him severely. The horse, in its fright, darted off, and striking the wagon against the center poll of the tent, broke the harness, and escaped to the street. Becoming more and more excited with rage, he then next turned the zebra cage upside down, and, taking it up with his trunk and tusks, tossed it out from beneath the canvas as a man would an apple. By this time every attendee of the menagerie had made good his escape, except the keeper of the raving beast, who was absent at the time. The cage containing the hyena in one compartment and several wolves in another was the next point of attack. This he tore to pieces, and scattered them about the premises, letting out the amiable inhabitants, who ran away with the utmost terror.

The monster then went from one cage to another, upsetting them in turn, and smashing them in pieces. His keeper made his appearance about this time, and attempted to put in practice his usual devices to gain the ascendancy over the elephant, but his efforts were utterly unavailing. Hannibal savagely sallied forth into the street trumpeting defiance, and dragging after him the chain with which he was usually fastened. The keepers followed him down the street in to an open square, not far distant from the menagerie grounds, and, with the aid of one or two others, succeeded in getting him into an excavation made for a cellar. He managed to chase back his pursuers, however, and was again followed into a stone yard near by, where he was a second time unpeded in his progress. He was kept here until the long pikes and hooks of Young America Hook and Ladder Company were brought upon the ground, and manned by the increasing crowd to be used in suppressing the crazed insurrectionist. Thus attacked from all directions, he was hooked and piked in so many places that he found it inconsistent and nearly impossible to move. His ears, trunk, sides, back, and limbs were studded with pikes, and grappled and held with hooks. His attention was then diverted until his keeper could venture up behind him and throw a rope about his legs.

This was done with much celerity, that the rope was passed round and round again, and secured before the beast became aware of what was being done and was captured.

The crowd had by this time increased to thousands, and had old Hannibal effected an escape from the hooks and pikes, it is probable that a large number of the spectators would have lost their lives. They were urged by the showmen to keep out of the way, but all that was said or done could scarcely induce them to do otherwise than push forward to see what was going on.

But Hannibal was not totally conquered after all. A stone eight feet long and two feet square having been chained to his legs, and the pike-poles laid by, his Majesty embraced an unexpected opportunity to continue the war. He put the spearmen to flight, and charged them about the stone-yard, dragging the immense building stone after him as if it were a sock. The crowd scattered precipitately. With some daring the spearmen again triumphed, and the elephant was this time more severely dealt with. His legs were again fastened with a  heavy chain, and he was tumbled over and speared and stabbed with pitchforks, the instruments entering the depth of three and four inches at every thrust, blood flowing in streams. He endured the torture without flinching for some time, but the copiousblood-letting at length reduced his rage, and he succumbed, making a peculiar noise known to all keepers of wild animals by the term of “begging”. When this stage of humiliation has been produced, it is always considered safe to release a ferocious beast.

Hannibal was then driven back, a conquered hero, to the show-ground, where he was securely fastened by the means of heavy chains.

This elephant was brought to America in the year 1844, by Mr. Van Amburgh, and is one of the largest of his species. His hight[sic] is 13 feet 4 inches. He is claimed to be one-third larger than any other elephant ever brought to this country. Bayard Taylor testifies that he is considerably larger than the majority of elephants which he had met with either in Asia or Africa. When Hannibal was imported in 1844 it was thought that he was already old, but as he has been growing ever since, the showmen concluded that he is still young—the natural term of life of the species being from 300-450 years.

This animal’s reputation was formerly almost unparalleled led for viciousness, but during the last five years he had apparently reformed, and became docile in character. Before that time he had repeatedly broken loose, and had killed, on different occasions, as many as seven persons. The last exploit of the kind which Hannibal undertook previous to the present one, was in 1853, when he sprung open the door of his cage, and, after effecting a pretty general demolition of the Company’s cages and transportation wagons, run away nine miles into the country before he was captured. The damage sustained by Van Amburgh & Co. by the wagons and cages spoiled yesterday, amounts to a considerable sum. The wild animals which he released were all secured without difficulty.

ANOTHER ACCOUNT, BY OUR BROOKLYN REPORTER

                  On Friday morning a tremendous excitement was created in the lower part of Williamsburgh, caused by the elephant belonging to Van Amburgh’s menagerie becoming enraged and breaking loose from his keeper. A man had been employed to bring some shavings to the menagerie, which were brought in a wagon. The man drove into the tent, and while unloading his wagon the elephant was observed to grow restless at the sight of a horse, which had a white blanket on. The man was advised to take his horse away, but before he could do so the elephant advanced a few steps, and, knocking the man down with a blow of his trunk, next seized the horse with his trunk and injured him seriously. He next seized the wagon, throwing it up into the air and breaking it to pieces. His anger was fully aroused then, and proceeding to the cage of the Prairie Wolf he smashed it with his trunk, releasing him. Next in his way was the cage of the Black Bear. This cage was damaged, but the bear was chained up and could not escape. The cage of the Zebra being next in his way he pushed it through the tent and clear through the wall of a small shanty at the back of the tent. Then leaving the tent he got into the street, pursued by his keepers, and hundreds of the people, none of whom were able to cope with the enraged elephant.

He did not molest passers by, but seemed to have a great aversion to horses, which he would pursue as rapidly as he was able, being hoppled with a chain connecting his tusks with one of his fore legs. He finally was driven, by the crowd, into the estate yard corner of South Fourth and Tenth streets. Here a number of workmen were engaged in dressing stone, and had just placed upon wooden horses a huge stone, weighing about fifteen hundred pounds. In attempting to get out of the stone yard the elephant got caught by his chain to the stone, which [checked] him. The keepers gradually approached him with chains to fasten his legs, but it was not till he had received several severe blows with spears that his attention could be diverted so as to render it possible to further secure him. Finally he was thrown down upon his side, where he lay for some time bellowing and thrashing about him with his trunk. Application was made to the members of Hook and Ladder Companies Noe. 1 and 3, who furnished the keeper with long hooks. One of these was run through one of his ears and twisted around until the poor animal could not move from pain of the wound.  When he was perfectly subdued he was heavily ironed with chains, and taken back to the menagerie. He is almost covered with wounds received from the hooks and spears, and it is not deemed safe to exhibit him for a few days, nor would it be safe for his keepers to approach within sight of him.

It is a very fortunate circumstance that no person was killed by the elephant, or trampled to death in the confusion of escape. As it is, the poor animal is the greatest sufferer. This is the largest elephant that has been exhibited in this part of the country, and is the same that a few years since caused such havoc by escaping from his cage at Harlem. These fits of anger, it is said, occur annually, and the keepers have for some time have been expecting some such demonstration, and kept a more careful watch of him.

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1854-01-19_Litchfield RepublicanHeadline: [Hannibal’ Herr Driesbach; New York]

Article Type: News/Opinion

Paper: Litchfield Republican

Date: 01-19-1854; Volume: VII; Issue: 31 Page: [2]; Location: Litchfield, Connecticut

The daily food of Hannibal, the elephant at Herr Driesbach’s menagerie, New York, consists of four hundred pounds of hay and three bushels of oats. He washes this enormous quantity of provender down his throat with four barrels of water. Besides his regular meals, he receives candies, cakes and apples from the visitors. He is the largest elephant living and about forty years old. He weighs eleven thousand pounds, is eleven feet in hight, and has two tusks, each five feet and a half long.

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1843-06-30_Daily Atlas published as The Daily AtlasHeadline: [Herr Driesbach; Herr Driesbach]

Article Type: News/Opinion

Paper: Daily Atlas, published as the Daily Atlas

Date: 06-30-1843; Volume: XI; Issue: 310; Page: [2]; Location: Boston, Massachusettes

Herr Driesbach, the far-famed “Lion-tamer,” will make his grand entrance into this city this morning, at eight o’clock. By the following account of him and his four –footed subjects, we are inclined to the opinion that he will make quite as great a sensation as a recent “guest” of a portion of the city. It is by Willis, in a letter to the National Intelligencer, dated May 23d:

I have spent an afternoon, since I wrote to you, in the “animal kingdom” of Herr Driesbach. Four elephants, together were rather an uncommon sight; to say nothing of the melodrama performed by the lion-tamer. There was another accidental feature of interest, too—the presence of one or two hundred deaf and dumb children, whose gestures and looks of astonishment quite divided my curiosity with the show. Spite of the repulsiveness of the thought, it was impossible not to reflect how much of the differences between us and some of the brute animals lies merely in the gift of speech, and how nearly some human beings, by losing this gift, would be brought to their level. I was struck with the predominating animal look in the faces of the boys of the school, though there were some female children with countenance of a very delicate and intellectual cast.

I was an hour too early for the “performances” and I climbed into the big saddle worn by “Siam,” and made a leisurely study of the four elephants and their keepers and huge animals were so small. Those of “Hannibal,” the nearest elephant to me, resembled the eyes of Sir Walter Scott, and I thought, too, that the forehead was not unlike Sir Walter’s. And, as if this was not resemblance enough, there was a copious issue from a bump between his forehead and his ear! (What might we not expect if elephants had “eat paper and drank ink?”) The resemblance ceased with the legs, it is but respectful to Sir Walter to say; for Hannibal is a dandy and wears the fashionable gaiter trousers, with a difference-the gaiter fitted neatly to every toe! The warlike name of this elephant should be given to siam, for the latter is the great warrior of the party, and in a fight of six hours with “Napoleon,” some three months since, broke off both his tusks. He looks like a most determined bruiser. “Virginius” (the showman told me) killed his keeper and made an escapade into the marshes of Carolina not long ago, and, after an absence of six weeks, was subdued and brought back by a former keeper, of whose discipline he had a terrified recollection. There are certainly different degrees of amiability in their countenances. I looked in vain for some of the wrinkles of age in the one they said was much the oldest; unlike us, their skins grow smoother with time—the enviable rascals! I noticed, by the way, that though the proboscis of each of the others was as smooth as dressed leather, that of Siam resembled, in texture, a scrubbing brush, or the third day of a stiff beard. Why he should travel with a “hair trunk” and the others not, I could not get out of the showman. The expense of training and importing these animals is enormous, and they are considered worth a great deal of money. The four together consume about two hundred weight of hay and six bushels of oats per diem. Fortunately they do their own land transportation and carry their own trunks.

At four o’clock Siam knelt down and four or five men lifted his omnibus of a saddle upon his back. The band then struck up a march, and he made the circuit of the immense tent; but the effect of an elephant in motion with only his legs and trunk visible (his body quite covered with the trappings) was singularly droll. It looked like an avenue taking a walk, preceded by a huge caterpillar. I stopped and knelt again to receive passengers. The wooden steps were laid against his eyebrow, and thence the children stepped to the top of his head, though here and there a scrambler shortened the step by putting his foot into the ear of the patient animal. The saddle was at last loaded with twelve girls, and with this “fearful responsibility” on his back the elephant rose and made his rounds, kneeling and renewing his load of “innocence” at every circuit.

The lion tamer presently appeared and astonished the crowd rather more than the elephant. A prologue was pronounced, setting forth that a slave was to be delivered up to wild beasts, etc. etc. A green cloth was spread before the cages in the open tent, (“parlous work,” I thought, among such tender meat as two hundred children,_ and out sprang suddenly a full grown tiger, who seized the gentleman in flesh-colored tights by the throat. A struggle ensues, in which they roll over and over on the ground, and finally, the victim gets the upper hand and drags out his devourer by the nape of his neck. I was inclined to think once or twice that the tiger was doing more than was set down for him in the play, but as the Newfoundland dog of the establishment looked on very quietly, I reserved my criticism.

The Herr next appeared in the long cage with all his animals—lions, tigers, leopards, etc. He pulled them about, put his hands in their mouths, and took as many liberties with his stock of peltry as if it was already made into muffs and tippets. They growled and showed their teeth, but came when they were called, and did as they were bid, very much to my astonishment. He made a bed of them, among other things; putting the tiger across the lion for a pillow, stretching himself on the lion and another tiger, and then pulling the leopard over his breast for a “comforter!” He then sat down and played nursery. The tiger was as much as he could lift, but he seated him upright on his knees, dandled and caressed him, and finally rocked him apparently asleep in his arms! He closed with an imitation of Funny Elssler’s pirouette, with a tiger standing on his back. I was very glad, for one, when I saw him go out the shut door.

A man then brought out a young anaconda, and twisted him round his neck, (a devil of a boa it looked,) and, after enveloping himself completely in other snakes, took them off again like cravats, and vanished. And so ended the show. Herr Driesbach stood at the door to bow us out, and a fine handsome determined looking fellow he is.

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elephantHeadline: A Furious Elephant at Large Three Horses Killed Numerous Wagons Demolished a Number of Persons Injured

Paper: Weekly Herald, published as The Weekly Herald

Date: 06-10-1854, Volume: XVIII, Issue: 23, Page: 182, Location: New York, NY

A Furious Elephant at Large

THREE HORSES KILLED- NUMEROUS WAGONS DEMOLISHED- A NUMBER OF PERSONS INJURED

[From the Providence Journal, Jun 6.]

The large elephant Hannibal, attached to the Broadway menagerie, which was on exhibition at Pawtucket on 3d instant, got loose from his keeper on the way from Pawtucket to Fall River, early yesterday morning. Before starting, his keeper made him lift the hinder part of a wagon loaded with 3,500 pounds, for the purpose of getting it into line. It is supposed that this, although not unusual, might have suggested to him the mode of attack which he adopted afterwards. When about seven miles from Pawtucket he became furious, turned upon his keeper, who had to fly for his life and take refuge in a house, got free, and rushed along the road, destroying everything in his way. Meeting a horse and wagon belonging to Mr. Stafford Short, he thrust his tusk into the horse and lifted horse, wagon and rider into the air. He mangled the horse terribly and carried him about fifty feet, and threw the dead body into a pond. The wagon was broken to pieces, and Mr, Short considerably hurt. The elephant broke one of his enormous tusks in this encounter. A mile further the elephant, now grown more furious, attacked in the same manner a horse and wagon, with Mr. Thomas W. Peck and his son. He broke the wagon and wounded the horse, which ran away. Mr. Peck was pretty badly hurt in the hip.

While the keepers were engaged in securing the smaller elephant, who had not, however, manifested any signs of insubordination, the larger one got off from them, and went through Barneyville, when Mr. Mason Barney an another man mounted their horses and kept on his track as near to him as was prudent, giving warning of the danger to the passengers whom they met on the way. The elephant would occasionally turn to look at them, but did not attempt to molest them.

The next man in the path was Mr. Pearce, who was riding with his little son in a one horse wagon. He was coming towards the elephant, and being warned by Mr. Barney, turned around and put the horse to his speed, but the elephant overtook him, and seizing the wagon, threw it into the air, dashing it to pieces, and breaking the collar bone and arm of Mr. Pearce. The horse, disengaged from the wagon, escaped with the tore wheels, and the elephant gave chase for eight miles, but did not catch him. The elephant came back from his unsuccessful pursuit, and took up his march again on the main road, where he next encountered Mr. J. Eddy, with a horse and wagon. He threw up the whole establishment in the same way as before, smashed the wagon, killed the horse, and wounded Mr. Eddy. He threw the horse twenty feet over a fence into the adjoining lot, then broke down the fence, when over and picked up the dead horse and deposited him in the road, where he had first met him. He killed one other horse, and pursued another, who fled to a barn; the elephant followed, but at the door was met by a fierce bull-dog, which bit his leg and drove him off. Once on the route, the keeper being ahead of him, saw him plunge over a wall and make for a house. The keeper got into the house first, hurried the frightened people within the upper story, and providing himself with an axe, succeeded in driving off the furious beast. The elephant finally exhausted his strength, and laid himself down in the bushes, about two miles from Slade’s Ferry. Here he was secured with chains and carried over the ferry to Fall River. A part of the time he ran at the rate of a mile in three minutes.
hanibal

  •  Newspaper clipping on the left: Richmond Enquirer, dated June 6, 1837.

A bit of information on how the elephant,  Hannibal, got his name from George Thompson:
Hannibal was a general of the army of Carthage, in maybe the 2nd century BC.  Carthage was somewhere on the south coast of the Mediterranean, where Algeria is now, or thereabouts.  He and his army, with elephants, invaded Italy from the north, over the Alps — they had come by way of Spain and southern France.  They beat up the Roman armies for a while, but eventually lost.  This was part of several wars between Rome and Carthage called the Punic Wars.   Needless to say, the idea of leading a herd of elephants over the Alps tickled the imagination of folks in recent times.

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