Friday, July 06, 2007

Benson's Wild Animal Farm #3

Scan10032, originally uploaded by bucklesw1.

This poor quality picture is the most interesting one of today's set.
Whoever sent this to my dad wrote on the back;
""Kay" just two days after arriving at Bensons from Hagenbeck in Germany, May 24th 1929. She is now in the Evansville, Indiana Zoo."

This brings to mind an event in the 1950's that I wish I could remember more clearly. About 1955 our elephant act was booked to play the Evansville Shrine Circus at the High School Gym but a day or so prior to leaving Hugo to play the date, my dad received a call that "Kay" had just killed the Zoo Director.
He was told to wait until further notice since there was a big hue and cry about the event and they may decide to go without elephants but in any event, we would be paid.
The next day we were told to come on and the date was done uneventfully.
Now here is the part that is unclear. Half way thru the date an elephant man arrived to pick up Kay from the Zoo (Jimmy O'Dell?) on the behalf of (Roy Bible?).
Anyway, he came to the building and asked for my dad's opinion saying that the event would take place the following morning. I wanted to witness the operation but my father put a stop to that right away.
I had only been around elephants a couple of years at that point and would want to get involved and probably get my hat blocked.
The strangest thing tho, is that I later heard from several people, the full details of that day's exciting events but for some reason, have lost all memory of their descriptions.


Anonymous said...

Frank Thompson, former Director at Mesker Park in the 1960s, might be able to fill in some information. Hope he follows the blog.

Anonymous said...

Buckles: Don Marcks had some information on this incident in his files.

The zoo is or at least was called the Mesker Zoo. It was in 1954 that Kay killed the director, whose name was McGraw and whom Don believed to be an old Barnes elephant man.

Don thought possibly "Bob Stevens" (he didn't say which one but I'm guessing Little Bob) might have first bought her for $500 and then sold her to Roy Bible who later had to put Kay down as she could not be worked, using the exhaust from a truck to do the job.

Willieboy1969 said...

Roger "Bob" McGraw was the Mesker Zoo Director at the time and had worked there for nearly 25 years. He was mopping Kay, the elephant's, cage when he got crushed by her on Jan 25, 1954. He died 6 days later at Deaconess Hospital in Evansville. I have numerous articles about Kay since I am currently involved with genealogy research and Bob was my grandpa's brother.

Unknown said...

@ Willieboy1969

Robert McGraw was my great grandfather. If you are reading this, I would be very interested in any information you may have.

Erin Gibson said...

I am researching Kay the elephant and am trying to track down where, when, and how she died once she left Mesker Park Zoo. @Willieboy1969 or @OleWhitey, if you are still following up on these posts, would you please contact me? My email address is

Erin Gibson said...

According to an article in the Evansville Press, Kay the elephant died during a trip to Holland, Michigan, where Roy Bible was going to use her in a circus. This contradicts the statements made on this blog that she was euthanized.

Buckles said...

Roy Bible.....there's a voice from the past.