Memories of Tommy the Elephant

Memories of Tommy the Elephant described in ‘Caleb 1849-1926’ by Paul M Hoskins.


Tommy the Elephant

I remember back to my 7th birthday in July 1856, and my birthday request was to go and see ‘Tommy” the Asian elephant that lived only three miles from us at the Gepps Cross Hotel (South Australia). 

At the annual Agricultural and Horticultural Show in the Adelaide Parklands during February 1855, Tommy participated in a walking race with a horse, which the elephant won by some two hundred yards.

The first time I saw “Tommy” was when he was sold to the Smith’s owners of Smiths Hotel, at Smith’s Creek, near Smithfield (South Australia) around May 1855.  The elephant was walked the thirty miles from Adelaide to Smithfield along the Main North Road, and had a great following of hangers on and curious onlookers, including my family as he passed by the Windmill Hotel.

It was with great excitement that the family went to Gepps Cross, using our spring cart and some on horseback to see the marvelous elephant known as ‘Tommy’.  The four wheeled carriage that Mr Matthews had made for the elephant was also used to transport some twenty people along the road from Gepps Cross to Enfield (South Australia).  The whole family climbed aboard the carriage for the return journey down the hill.  A great day was had by all and a very memorable birthday treat.

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