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Indian skeletons found here some 80 years ago

By WILLIAM CASTEEL Correspondent Published: June 28, 2017 12:00 AM
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Eighty-three years ago this July, the citizens of Newcomerstown were all excited following the accounts of the discovery of 12 skeletons found during excavations on Mulvane Street.

According to the July 12, 1934 edition of The Newcomerstown News, workmen were digging along south Mulvane Street to construct a storm sewer when the skeletons were discovered about two and a half feet below the ground.

With the discovery of the first couple skeletons, it was thought that they were those of early pioneers. Further excavation lead to the discovery of Indian beads, and other relics found with, or along side the skeletal remains.

Dr. Emerson Greenman, curator and director of the Ohio State Archaeological Society had been contacted by local authorities, and made an examination of the skeletons, and relics. Greenman said that the due to the size, and shape of the skull and other bones, as well as the presence of the Indian-related items found on, or nearby each skeleton that it supported his conclusion that the skeletons were those of Indians.

Greenman estimated the bodies had been buried sometime between 1770 and 1790. Because of the regularity of space between each skeleton it also supported the belief that the area had once been an Indian cemetery.

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According to Greenman, the Delaware Indians who once inhabited Newcomerstown, were stricken with an epidemic of small pox around 1790. Many of the tribe members succumbed to the epidemic. Historical accounts from early settlers also said that an early Indian village, and a cemetery was noted in the south side of the village (now the site of south Mulvane, and Chestnut Street) when early explorers, and settlers began arriving between 1807 and 1814. The cemetery was in close proximity to the river. Over the years, the river had eroded the river bank away, eventually extending into the cemetery, and washing many of the grave sites into the river.

The 1934 discovery was reportedly not the first time that skeletons were found on Mulvane Street. In 1928, several skeletal remains, including a complete skull, were found when a resident of south Mulvane Street was replacing a sidewalk in front of the residence.

Dr. Greenman later recommended that the skeletons, and relics be preserved, and placed in a museum, preferably somewhere in Newcomerstown. The high school was one suggested site for the display. The Newcomerstown Chamber of Commerce were planning to meet to discuss Greenman's suggestion. It is not known whether the Indian skeleton display ever materialized.

At this time, the whereabouts of the skeletons, and relics is unknown. Were they ever displayed in Newcomerstown, or anywhere else? Where are they now?


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