April 7, 1949
[Headline: Elephants Stampede At Dailey Brothers Circus]
Things are quiet at the Dailey Brothers circus lot, today, but for two hours
late Tuesday, bedlam would have been tame by comparison.
Eighteen bulls out of the circus herd of 21 elephants went on a
rampage and stampeded out the winter quarters of the circus to roar across the
southeast end of Gonzales for more than two hours before all were rounded up and
corralled in their barn to quiet down.
the consent of owner Ben C. Davenport, the herd had been moved to a ravine at
the far end of the old fair grounds to a heavily wooded section not far from the
The animals had been arranged to pass in a group before the camera, but they were
sluggish and refused to be speeded. Davenport dispatched two cowboys, mounted
on horses, to the rear of the herd and allowed them to shoot several rounds from
.44 caliber pistols.
combination of prancing horses and barking pistols frightened the herd and they
started off without warning, trumpeting loudly and storming for distance in all
herd, all but one - Little Butch - was safe before sunset. It was not until many
hours later that Little Butch was located in the woods, six miles out, and brought
home in Davenport's Cadillac.
men were slightly hurt in the stampede, Rex Williams, 26, former Marine, a head
elephant man with the circus, was bumped by a bull and sent flying probably 20
feet. He was cut and bruised.
Freivogal, 30, utility man, who was in front of the herd, made a leap for safety
and stumbled as the elephants advanced. He fell between two logs that had been
rolled into place for props, and this proved to be the lucky accident that saved
herd stormed over and past him, kicking the logs as it went by, but none tramped
on Freivogal. He was bruised as the logs squeezed against him, and scratched by
the bark, but was otherwise unhurt.
two miles, the elephants scattered, singly, in pairs and in threes, and it was
more than two hours later - 4:30 p.m. - before the last was rounded up by the
frantically laboring circus hands.
roared through fences knocking them down indiscriminately, and one bull tore off
the porch of a small house. Letter boxes in the rural route areas also went down,
among them the box of Louis H. School at State Park and one of his neighbors.
Across the Gonzales-Shiner Highway, the herd flew, some of them being captured
later against the brick walls of the Gonzales Cotton Mill.
pair suddenly smashed out of the brush land into the Shiner Road just as a tourist
car, bearing Indiana plates and containing a middle-aged couple, drove along.
The goggle-eyed man at the wheel nearly cracked up when he saw the elephants charging
in his direction. He drove into a ditch and the elephants passed by. Later, when
he was able to regain the highway, the tourist sped into town screaming that the
elephants were after him.
It was the first word in Gonzales that the elephants were on stampede. But the
tourist fled the city.
Lone Star Diary
Published with author's permission.