Reflections: Mystery of bones discovered at Shaw Creek


REFLECTIONS

By Evelyn Long - Contributing Columnist



Normally I like to write upbeat pieces about people and the community and leave the macabre type to others. But I found this story in the March 14, 1935, edition of the Morrow County Independent to be informative even though it borders on the morbid.

According to the story, ten FERA employees were working on a gravel pit on the banks of Shaw Creek at the L. L. Hammond farm, four and one half miles southwest of Cardington when the pick used by Mannas Boger, Westfield Township trustee in charge of the men, struck the skull of a human being as they were stripping the top soil off a gravel vein preparatory to removing the gravel for use on Westfield Township roads.

The skull and bones, believed to be that of a male, showed the man had been placed in the grave on his back with his arms outstretched at right angles to his body. It was presumed the bones had been in the shallow grave for several decades, and no bits of clothing or metal were found. A search for rotted bark from which a coffin might have been made, revealed nothing.

With the finding of the skull, the men removed the dirt near it carefully, revealing the bones of a man thought to have been more than six feet tall.

The body was about three feet under the soil, being on top of the vein of gravel. An old apple tree stood near where the body was found and the bones were uncovered. That spot was about 20 feet in from the old bank of Shaw Creek not the present bank, the creek at one time having cut a crescent-shaped channel into the hillside.

When a fill was made for the roadway, the creek bank changed. The grave was also about 20 feet above the present bed of the creek, which was narrower than the earlier or old creek stream.

Upon being exposed to the air, all of the bones except the jaw and skull crumbled. The skull was in a good state of preservation with teeth on the right side intact but the left side of the jaw appeared as though the teeth had been knocked out. Position of the body, singular, led to a possible murder theory although the bones were in such condition that it would be difficult to determine the cause of death.

They also determined that because of the depth of the grave and position of the body it appeared rather doubtful the man was a victim of drowning and no evidence on the Hammond farm indicated it might be an Indian, with occasional flints found but none were with this body. According to Hammond who had lived on the farm for 10 years, two log cabins once stood several decades earlier along Shaw Creek within a quarter mile of the grave.

A private road led to the cabin of a peddler by the name of Trindler. That road, Hammond said, passed near the spot where the bones were found. This article referenced a story written about 1905 by a local resident, “The Peddler’s Last Call.”

It was about a pack peddler who had disappeared after going to stay all night in a cabin which was suppose to have been located within a mile radius of the spot where the bones were found.

This article by Jefferson Foust was written to appear as fiction but was considered at the time to have actually happened. It is presumed that the peddler was murdered and robbed and his body buried in an obscure grave.

The Hammond farm was a mile west of Route 42 on Emswiler Road. The grave was located about 100 feet from the road and 400 to 500 feet east of the Hammond Farm.

70 years ago, February, 1949: Long’s Garage on East Main Street was paying 15 cents per pound for 1,000 pounds of white underwear rags for polishing automobiles. Elva Hartpence, fifth grade teacher at Cardington for 15 years, resigned due to ill health. Her teaching career spanned 41 years, all in Morrow County.

50 years ago, February 1969: Arthur Etgen of rural Ashley was elected president of the National Farmers Organization chapter of Morrow County L. T. Etgen of near Cardington, was named as NFO District Director. A 4.5-pound carton of lard cost 75 cents at Cardington Locker.

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REFLECTIONS

By Evelyn Long

Contributing Columnist

Reach us at mcsnews@aimmediamidwest.com.

Reach us at mcsnews@aimmediamidwest.com.