King Neptune - the multi-million dollar Pig
The United States Navy started a fund raiser to build the USS
Illinois (BB-65) between the years of 1942 and 1946. Their symbol
of the fund raiser was King Neptune, a pig. Altogether the
Navy and King Neptune raised nineteen million dollars in war
bonds - equivalent to two hundred million in 2007. That was quite
an accomplishment for a pig.
Our fund raiser mascot was part of a litter of twelve born on
Sherman Boner farm in Frankfort, Illinois. He was a Hereford
swine which are red all over except for their face, ears and two
feet that are white. King Neptune was named Parker Neptune at
birth, after his sire that was named Parker Sensation. Parker
Neptune was raised by Farmer Boner's daughter Patty as a 4-H
project. On December 5, 1942, Sherman Boner donated the pig to
the United States Navy to be used for a pig roast, but Navy
recruiter Don C. Lingle had another future in mind for the pig,
and Neptune was spared the barbeque.
Don Lingle, the Navy recruiter, was from Anna, Illinois. While he
was working at the Marion, Illinois office he decided to auction
the pig off to raise money for war bonds. The auctioneer, L. Oard
Sitter, traveled southern Illinois to raise awareness of the
auction and get more funds for the battleship. Eventually
Neptune's parts were auctioned off; even his squeal raised
twenty-five dollars on one occasion. As soon as an auction was
done King Neptune was returned to the Navy by the purchaser and
was auctioned again at a later date. King Neptune became a
phenomenon, which led to people asking for public appearances of
the pig. He was often taken to public events and the Navy draped
a blue Navy blanket over his back and put a crown on his head and
silver earrings in his ears.
Eventually, in March of 1943, King Neptune was bought by Governor
Dwight H. Green for one million dollars on behalf of the State of
Illinois. At the same auctions a bristle of King Neptune's went
for five hundred dollars. A check was written to King Neptune in
early 1945 for his upkeep. The bank that was asked to cash the
check asked Lingle to obtain the pig's endorsement, which he did
with a hoof print. Lingle received a promotion to Chief Petty
Officer for his fund raising efforts with King Neptune.
After that King Neptune's appearances were funded by the local
Elks club and King Neptune is a life member of the Marion,
Illinois, Harrisburg, Illinois and Freeport, Illinois chapters.
In 1946, King Neptune was going to be sent to a Chicago Stockyard
when Lingle stepped in and bought King Neptune and placed him on
a local farm to live out the rest of his life. The pig eventually
died of pneumonia on Ernest Goddard's farm around Anna, Illinois
in May of 1950, just two days prior to his eighth birthday.
King Neptune received military honors when he was buried. He was
buried six miles east of Anna, Illinois at a location off of
Route 146 and which is now known as King Neptune Park. Eventually
King Neptune's grave was relocated for construction of Interstate
57. A new location was selected in 1963 less than a mile east of
I-57 and IL-146 interchange. After King Neptune's grave was
vandalized in 1980 the State of Illinois placed a monument to the
pig at a nearby rest stop on I-57.
Parker Neptune/King Neptune's original tombstone read:
"King Neptune (1941-1950) [sic] Buried here - King Neptune,
famous Navy mascot pig auctioned for $19,000,000.00 in war bonds
1942-1946 to help make a free world. "
His year of birth was mistakenly listed on the original tombstone
as 1941 and has been corrected on the monument located at the
We believe that King Neptune must hold the record as the pig that
brought the highest market price in world history.