Strange Laws Explained….Well, Sort of…

I heard from a lot of you this week regarding my column on Your Ancestors and the Law. Thanks to everyone who wrote in! Vicki Claybrook made me feel better about my meanderings and here’s what she found:

Juliana, you are not the only one who gets sidetracked by her curiosity. Once I read that camels were in Idaho and elephants on the streets of Florida, I had to find out more.

Camels were used by the military by the late 1850s. Later the use of camels expanded to include hauling supplies to the northern states. The practice did not last long as no one was particularly successful at driving them, and they did not do well with horses. Why you would not want to fish from the back of one, however, is something I could not find.

Then again, Boise, Idaho has a law that you cannot fish from the back of a giraffe. Maybe Boise lawmakers could not tell the difference between camels and giraffes?

Anyway, camels have had a brief, but interesting history in this country. My favorite new bit of trivia is that a Vermont senator (George Perkins Marsh) advised giving camels to native tribes as a way of ending conflicts with them, and providing them with a means of sustaining their lives after the loss of the buffalo. You can read more at if you wish to get even further led astray from what you should be doing.

As to elephants, having family in Sarasota, Florida, I was already aware of the town’s identity as the “Circus Capitol of the World”. It appears that in the early 1920s, John Ringling (Ringling Brothers Circus) used circus elephants to build the first bridge from the mainland to St. Armands Key. I imagine that would explain elephants on the streets and a need to tether them safely.

I awoke excited that I had a totally free day today; no obligations, no visiting grandkids. I have spent way too much time on Google, however. But had fun doing it. Thanks for the adventure.

Vicki Claybrook

Thank you Vicki for clearing up those mysteries! Now if we can just figure out why fishing from camels and giraffes came to be a problem, we’ll be able to run for public office! 😉


2 thoughts on “Strange Laws Explained….Well, Sort of…

  1. I knew there had been camels used by the military in this country as there is an old fort that is maintained as a historical site on the Ridge Route where they were housed after their treks and the cavalrymen who took care of them and also lead them on their expeditions had barracks there. I didn’t know they had been used in Idaho. Thanks for the info. I’ll have to try tha website you mentioned.

  2. Sorry, but you said the email would not be posted and it comes up on the Blog site. Obviously I did something wrong but now I can’t delete it and really hope that you will. Thanks

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