This front page headline is from the morning edition of Bridgeport Evening Farmer, Thursday February 25, 1909 – Sometimes paraphrasing just doesn’t do an article justice, so here it is, in its entirety, exactly as it was originally printed – including more than a few disturbing grammatical and editing errors:
The skeleton of a woman, shreds of flesh desiccated by long exposure to the air clinging to it, was discovered in a field on the Adams Road, in Easton, last night, by boys. The remains had evidently been disturbed by wild animals. But the clothing was still about the grisly exhibit and the frame-work was embedded in the grass in a way to indicate either that death had overtaken the woman as she lay at rest or else if the body had been brought to the spot, it had been carefully composed in the attitude of a person sleeping.
The people of Easton are much excited about the discovery and two theories prevail, which are in conflict with each other in the minds of the many who have now visited the scene.
The first theory is that the skeleton is that of a friendless woman, who exhausted and penniless found herself on the highway at this point and lay down to rest or die.
This theory was supported by Elmer S. Andrews, the owner of the farm upon which the remains were discovered.
Mr. Andrews remembers that about four years ago a very old woman applied for lodging and for food. The family was then under quarantine, scarlet fever being present in the home, so it was necessary to deny the petition for lodging. But Mrs. Andrews refreshed the wayfarer with food and drink, and the visitor went on her way, after profusely thanking her hosts. But after thinking the matter over Mr. Andrews can not reach the conclusion that the clothing upon the skeleton was like the clothing worn by the visitor four years back. It appears to him also, as he said to the Farmer, this afternoon, that the several members of the skeleton are more coherent than they would be after an exposure of four years.
As no person is missing from Easton, or has mysteriously disappeared, the second theory falls back upon the idea that a murder has been committed as in the Rose Ambler case, and the body disposed of by the expedient of throwing it over the fence of Mr. Andrews’ field from a vehicle.
The discovery was made last night by Johnnie Logan, the 14 year old son of Homer Logan, who with a party of boy companions was playing in the neighborhood. He ran from the spot horrified, to tell some older men whom they knew of the sight they had seen.
Their story was ridiculed by those to whom they told it, until it reached Frank Strong, who is employed by Charles Gilbert, whose farm is near the Adams Road about a mile from the Andrews Homestead.
Andrews [reporter actually meant Strong] accompanied the boys to the spot described to him and found the story true. He immediately informed Mr. Gilbert who informed Mr. Andrews. They with others made as careful an examination of the skeleton and the place where it lay, as the law permits.
Said Mr. Andrews this afternoon, “The limbs were stretched straight out like someone who had lain down to rest. The shoes and stockings were on the feet, the stockings were pulled up. The clothing was huddled. I did not examine that enough to give an accurate description of it. The waist, however, was a handsome black silk. The other garments left an impression on my mind that they are coarser.
“The feet were small. The shoes were fine. The rubbers, which were pulled over the shoes, were all in good condition, excepting that one of them was worn through the sole. There was a black straw hat. It had been torn to pieces in some way. It was shapeless. Fragments of what had been trimming on the hat were scattered about.
“The skull had become separated from the trunk and lay about three feet away. When I saw it there were no teeth in the upper jaw. The boys told me, however, that when they first saw it there were teeth in the lower jaw. I do not know whether the teeth will drop from the jaw after death.”
In the matter of the probability that the skeleton is that of the old woman who visited his house, Mr. Andrews said: “ It is true that some four years ago in March, or perhaps in April, along about dusk, an old lady came to us to ask for lodging. She was hungry and we gave her food. She went her way and that was the last we saw of her. I cannot recollect that the clothing she wore corresponds with the clothing on the skeleton. Neither do I remember, at this time, the black straw hat and the black silk waist.”
Mr. Gilbert made a statement in which he said the remains presented an appearance to his mind of having been clawed over by wild beasts. He said that some of the smaller bones lay as far away from the main portion of the skeleton as 20 feet.
This morning Coroner Doton was notified of the finding of the body. He communicated the news to Medical Examiner Downs, who is expected in Easton momentarily.
If you notice some inconsistencies in this tale, you certainly wouldn’t be alone, but this somewhat haphazard style of reporting appeared to be the norm during the early part of 20th century. Many papers went to press every twelve hours – morning and evening editions were common and quite often the mistakes and inconsistencies found in an early edition were corrected by the time the paper went to press for the following one.
This story would develop into a series of interesting conjectures over the ensuing months, each a bit stranger than the last. Look for more on Easton’s mysterious skeleton in future editions of the History Corner as we attempt to entertain our readers as much as inform them of some of the more colorful tales from Easton’s past.