The Time of The Elephant
The history of the Upper Penns Neck area would be incomplete without a narration of the following wonderful event: In the fall of 1837, a menagerie was
being conveyed from Wilmington to Penns Grove by the steamboat “New Jersey” enroute for Salem. The boat had to make two trips to bring the entire
show across. It was dark. A large elephant was brought over on the first trip.
The custom of the showmen was to drive the elephants, after landing, up the road, there to wait until the whole caravan was ready to move forward. On
this occasion, the elephant, instead of waiting, started on and took the upriver road, and after continuing a short distance turned off in a byroad through
the woods, crossing the property of John Holton and the Biddle farm to the Pedricktown Road, thence making his way up that road a short distance to a
gate opening upon a private way across the farm of Rinear Latchem. This led into the woods and swamps known as Quilleytown, a wild region of country
with few inhabitants.
The elephant stayed in the woods that night and the next day. The following night he came back by the way he had gone the night before, when he had
broken all obstructing gates and fences in his passage. When he arrived at Penns Grove, not having his regular meals, it is supposed he had a good
appetite. Noah Humphreys, the hotel keeper, had a small building for the storage of food. The elephant knocked in one side of the building and ate what
oats he wanted, then went along the shore above the pier, where lay a small bateau above the high water mark. Whether the anchor was in the boat or
not is not known, but the elephant took the boat from the shore and half-way across the river, where it was found anchored the next morning. The
elephant having left it, he struck out alone for the Delaware shore, and landed at Quarryville about sunrise.
The workman at the quarry had just come to their work, when an Irishman saw him coming ashore. He exclaimed, “Be jabers, there comes a sea hoss!”
The elephant had a short piece of chain around his leg with which the workmen fastened him to a small tree when he came out of the water, and claimed
him as a prize, and refused to let the owner have him unless he paid them $50, but refused to do, but offered a barrel of whiskey instead.
BOROUGH OF PENNS GROVE 75th Anniversary 1894-1969
SUPPLEMENT OF PENNS GROVE RECORD
AUGUST 14, 1969