Sunday, October 05, 2008


[The News-Sentinel, Tuesday, September 7, 1943]

The story of how Cole Brothers Circus lost one of is most valuable elephants, known by the Name of "Pitt," in a peculiar accident has just been learned by The News-Sentinel. The animal was killed instantly when it was struck by lightning. This occurred several weeks ago when the circus was showing in Dillon, Montana.
The elephants were grouped together on the lot when a severe storm approached and Zach Terrell, circus owner, was standing nearby watching them. A bolt of lightning struck Pitt knocking him to the ground. Several of the other elephants were badly stunned but rcovered. Mr. Terrell was thrown back and aground by the lightning bolt but managed to stay with the animals.
Pitt was honored with a genuine funeral ceremony attended by most of the circus folks and several bouquets of flowers were placed on the grave. A permanent marker is being made to mark his last resting place.
Pitt was originally from the famed herd of elephants owned by John Robinson III of Cincinnati and at one time his circus had the largest number of pachyderms in the world. When Mr. Robinson sold his show he refused to part with his three favorite elephants, Clara, Pitt and Tony, and for years kept them on his farm and the highly trained beasts appeared in indoor shows all over the country. When Mr. Robinson died the elephants were kept by his wife and son, John Robinson IV, but old age and disease took Tony and Clara. Last year Mrs. Robinson presented Pitt to Mrs. Zach Terrell and he performed daily with the show until his unexpected demise.


Steve Rusher said...

i used to know estella sims and visited her mothly in her late years i know she sometimes kept elephants in her barns in owensboro kentucky i have searched and found out that it was owensboro kentucky that zach terrell and estrella lived at the time of the lightning occurance the barn had 3 huge elephant rings to hold the elephants and a huge watering hole that was made from cement x wife found a elephant horseshoe on the property after it was torn down . the property was on hwy 54 owensboro kentucky but was torn down sometime ago. anybody can contact me at

Anonymous said...

This was such a great find, as my mother, who is now 90 years old, has talked about Pitt being struck by lightning at the curcus here in Dillon, MT. My mom was attending this affair, so it was a a shock for her. We have observed Pitt's gravesite many times. It was so nice to learn more history about Pitt as well as the other elephants. Know my mother will love reading these articles.