Empress (Gypsy) at Harris Nickel Plate Shows

† Empress (Gypsy)
ID Number:
Species: Asian elephant (Elephas maximus)
Sex and age:Female ♀, unknown maybe about years old (estimated age)
Dead date:
Death reason: euthanised: shot, agressive
People killed:6
Location:Harris Nickel Plate Shows
ArrivedHarris Nickel Plate Shows 1892-00-00
from Clark Brothers Circus
Clark Brothers Circus 1890-00-00
from Forepaugh & Samwells
Forepaugh & Samwells 1887-00-00
from OBrien Circus
OBrien Circus 1886-00-00
from Grand Circus Royal & English Menagerie
Grand Circus Royal & English Menagerie 1881-00-00
from Great Inter-Ocean Shows
Great Inter-Ocean Shows 1879-00-00
from Campbell's New York and Philadelphia Zoological and Equestrian Institute
Campbell's New York and Philadelphia Zoological and Equestrian Institute 1878-00-00
from Dan Rice Circus
Dan Rice Circus 1873-00-00
from OBrien Circus
Born: wild
Document updated2010-09-26: prev locations
1867-1891: Killed 4 people.
1896: killed Frank Scott
1902: killed James "Whiskey Red" O'Rourke.

Records about Empress (Gypsy) from Bob Cline
Female Asian 1870 - sold at Auction to John "Pogey" O'Brien for $5,000 in November
1871 - Pogey O'Brien Circus
1873 - Dan Rice Circus
1878 - Campbell's Great New York and Philadelphia Zoological & Equestrienne Institute
1879 to 1880 - Great Inter Ocean
1881 to 1883 - Grand Circus Royal, English Menagerie Consolidated with the Great Astley's Museum & Aquarium Caravan

1885 - Killed Robert White on October 12th
1886 - Pogey O'Brien's Show
1886 - sold to John B. Doris
1887 to 1889 - O'Brien's and the Forepaugh & Samwells' show
1890 to 1891 - Clark Bros. Circus
1892 to 1902 - Harris Nickle Plate Shows renamed Gypsy
1896 - killed 3rd victim ( Trainer Frank Scott )
Died - Nov. 24, 1902 ( Executed by gunshot. )

1888:"(Clarks broters) in 1888 purchased some of the Pogey OBrien show equipment and the elephant "Empress." This bull was a bad one and was known to have killed four men. George Hartzell, a well known clown of that period, and the elephant man, along with a few others from the OBrien show, went with the Clarks. Hartzell stayed with the Clark show five months.

1896-03-25: While with W. H. Harris Nickel-Plate, Frank Scott was killed by the elephant Gypsy in winter quarters, Chicago, March 25, 1896. Had recently taken charge of the animal, formerly named Empress, which had always been dangerous. This was her 3rd victim. Scott had been connected with this circus for the last 6 years.
Olympians of the Sawdust Circle, William L. Slout and Circus Historical Society

When the Clark Brothers went broke, the elephant, Empress, was sold to the Harris Nickle Plate Shows, where she was heavily billed as Gypsy. Bill Woodcock said, a short time before he died, that Walter Jennier had told him about being on the Harris show as a child. Jennier reported that Empress had killed a handler, James ORoark (Jimmy the bum), while being loaded to go to the Harris winter quarters in Valdosta, Georgia. Mrs. Harris ordered her executed and she was taken into the swamps and shot. Jennier remembered the crowd cutting off pieces of her anatomy for souvenirs."

Homer C. Walton. Bandwagon, Vol. 9, No. 2 (Mar-Apr), 1965, pp. 4-11.

Sources, among others

  • Bob Cline, Cheraw, South Carolina, United States.
  • http://www.circushistory.org/Olympians/OlympiansS1.htm
  • Page 87 Elefanten in Zoo und Circus, Dokumentation 2 Nordamerika, 1997, by European Elephant Group: Haufellner, Schilfarth, Schweiger

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