Mary the elephant killed her handler on September 12, 1916, in Tennessee and the crowd demanded justice.
Regardless of the details, the end was the same -- a man dead. Justice to be served. ... As valuable as Mary was, she had to go.
The problem was, how?
Guns, of course, were the first course of action. Just after Eldridge's death, blacksmith Hench Cox fired his 32-20 five times at Mary; the story goes that the bullets hardly phased her. ... But the circus manager stated, "There ain't gun enough in this country that he could be killed"; another approach would have to be attempted.
Someone suggested electrocution: "They tried to electrocute her in Kingsport -- they put 44,000 volts to her and she just danced a little bit," railroader Mont Lilly claimed. ...
Other reports suggest a third execution method: hooking Mary to two opposing engines and dismembering her, or crushing her between two facing engines. Both were dismissed as too cruel.
And so it was decided, instead, that Murderous Mary would be hung by the neck from a derrick car the next day.