By Thomas Palmer

Yes, indeed, Jumbo was here. Who knew?

Jumbo the elephant, in the short three years of touring America before his death in 1885 at the age of 25, visited our own fair city. The famous pachyderm was an African bush elephant born in Sudan, and was sold to impresario P.T. Barnum in 1882 for a claimed price of $200,000.

The elephant stood 10.6 feet tall at the shoulder and weighed six tons.

In New York, Barnum exhibited Jumbo at Madison Square Garden, earning enough in three weeks from the enormous crowds to recoup the money he spent to buy the animal. In the 31-week season, the circus earned $1.75 million, largely due to its star attraction. On May 17, 1884, Jumbo was one of Barnum’s 21 elephants that crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate that it was safe, a year after 12 people died during a stampede precipitated by fear that the bridge might collapse

The following information is from coverage shared in the Galion Inquirer dated October, 1884:

Barnum’s Circus was in town, also bringing a 488 x 252 feet “big top,” a (very unfortunately named) “Ethnological Congress of Savage and Barbarous Tribes,” 40 giraffes, 32 camels, a giant rhinoceros, 8 lions, 6 giant baboons, 6 “educated kangaroos,” and much, much more.

The entourage included over 700 people. Tickets were 50 cents for adults, 25 cents for children.

Two days later, the paper reported that attendance was good despite “inclement and miserable” weather. The only major casualty was the inability of the “circus ladies” to participate in the parade through the center of town.

Each Saturday, we share a post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.

This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.