Clarendon will celebrate famous son

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 5 May 2014 at 12:00 am

Program will highlight Carl Akeley, famed taxidermist, on his 150th birthday

Provided photos – Carl Akeley is pictured with a leopard in Africa that he killed with his bare hands after it attacked him.

CLARENDON – The Clarendon Historical Society is planning one of its biggest events ever in honor of the 150th birthday of the town’s most famous son.

Carl Akeley, a world renown taxidermist and inventor, will be the focus of a May 21 event at the Clarendon Recreation Hall. The event starts at 7 p.m. and will include Jay Kirk, author of a book about Akeley called “Kingdom Under Glass.” Copies of the book will be for sale.

The cover of Kirk’s book: “Kingdom Under Glass.” The Clarendon Historical Society will be selling copies of the book on May 21.

Akeley grew up on Hinds Road. He made many safaris to Africa and became an advocate for preserving Africa’s wildlife.

“He is considered the Father of Taxidermy,” said Historical Society member Erin Anheier. “He made it an artform.”

The Cobblestone Society Museum has a fox stuffed by a young Carl Akeley, which will be displayed as part of the May 21 event.

Jay Kirk, author of the Carl Akeley biography “Kingdom Under Glass,” will be the featured speaker on May 21st during a program about Akeley, a Clarendon native.

Kirk, the author, chronicles Akeley’s life during the golden age of safaris in the early 20th Century. Akeley created the famed African Hall at New York’s Museum of Natural History.

“He was concerned about saving animals, especially the giant gorillas in Africa,” Anheier said. “He collected and stuffed the animals for scientific purposes.”

Akeley’s adventures connected him with Theodore Roosevelt, P.T. Barnum and George Eastman. Akeley died in 1926 and is buried in Africa.

“We were talking about programs for the year at the Historical Society, looking at what’s unique about Clarendon,” Anheier said. “Carl Akeley is the most famous person ever from Clarendon.”

A historical marker on Hinds Road notes that Carl Akeley grew up in Clarendon.