As reported in the Daily Mail, when Charlie Sparks' reveling circus visited Kingsport, Tennessee, USA in 1916, an inexperienced handler was put in charge of Mary a circus elephant.
When the elephant stopped to nibble on a piece of discarded watermelon during the parade the handler jabbed the elephant to get her moving and inadvertently hit an abscessed spot. The elephant's reaction was deadly.
The elephant dashed the handler on the ground and trampled on his head.
While the terrified spectators screamed and fled, a local blacksmith unloaded five rounds of ammunition into the elephant with little effect.
The townsfolk encircled the elephant and chanted "Kill the elephant, kill the elephant."
Worried that the circus dates would be canceled if he did not accommodate the crowds call for vengeance the circus owner Charlie Sparks decided to acquiesce to their demands.
The elephant now known as "Murderous Mary" was hanged using a railway crane in nearby in the nearby town of Erwin.
The Daily Mail notes that, "Between 1882 and 1930, there were 214 victims of lynchings in Tennessee. Most were black men, summarily found guilty of such crimes as "fighting a white man" and having "bad character."