These two circus posters for Moon Bros. Circus, circa 1924, are preserved in the Wabaunsee County Historical Society archives. The Moon Bros. Circus performed across the Midwest and South during the 1920s. These posters were sent to the local newspapers for display, and they were printed with newspaper ad copy on the reverse. The Moon Bros. Circus featured a famous elephant, Tex, who gained a reputation as a man-killer and being unmanageable. Purportedly, Tex had killed a young trainer with the Barnum-Bailey circus, and the rogue elephant had been sold to the Moon Bros. During the early 1920s as the circus toured, it was reported that the elephant killed seven other men, although empirical evidence of his deeds does not exist. However, after the elephant had escaped the circus in Tupelo, Arkansas and wreaked havoc, destroying fences, crops and at least one automobile, he was “sentenced to death”. The Moon Bros. thought they could capitalize on their need to euthanize the beast, so they proclaimed that they would execute the elephant by electrocution. They held a contest to find a town in which to perform the public execution. Little Rock, Arkansas won that distinction, and the execution date was scheduled in May of 1926. The circus warned the citizens of Little Rock that the lights of the city would dim or go dark for several seconds while the city’s electrical power was focused on producing the necessary voltage to kill the 7,500 pound pachyderm. Despite the considerable excitement and hysteria surrounding the impending execution, apparently the plan was abandoned, as there appears no record of the event actually transpiring.
Thanks to Robert Craig for his excellent reference material relative to Tex, the elephant, found in his article, Tex, The Tupelo Terror of ’25, Stream of History, August, 2013.