Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Forgotten Soldier


The following newspaper account describes the discovery of a human skeleton found near a coal breaker in Luzerne County, PA. It was published in the Bloomsburg Columbian on August 8, 1884:

A man named Michael Boylan, a resident of Teasdale City, was looking for young foxes Sunday afternoon at the foot of the high rocks along the road leading from Shickshinny to Wanamie. Under an overhanging crag, in sight of the road, he came upon the bleached skeleton of a man. Mr. Boylan made known his discovery and quite a crowd collected. Mr. F.D. Yaple, who was returning from Nanticoke about this time, saw the bones, secured a knife, bunch of keys and a briar pipe and brought them to town. On Monday it became known that the skeleton had been found and many conjectures and wild stories were set afloat as to who was the owner of the abandoned bones. In company with M.E. Walker, H.S. Clark and C.F. Stackhouse, an Echo representative, visited the spot to investigate.

The place is about two miles back upon the mountain from the Mocanaqua breaker. When first found the bones were in their regular order with the shoes upon the feet, face upward. The only portion of the clothing recognizable was a piece of soldier overcoat. The large and small army buttons were confirming evidence that he wore a coat of that kind. Several large buttons, such as are worn on drawers, and a small undershirt button were found among the decayed clothing. The leather facings for a pair of mittens went further to confirm the belief that whoever the man may be his body was clad for winter weather at the time of his death.

Among other effects found were a razor and strop, shaving mug, satchel frame securely locked, and two bottles, one a pocket flask and the other a two-ounce vial such as laudanum is usually sold in. The man must have been 6 feet tall, with a low, receding forehead. His right leg had been broken at one time at the thigh. How long the bones had lain exposed is not known. Their bleached condition would indicate several years. It is remarkable that they were not found before from their close proximity to the road.

I couldn't find any additional information, though it seems that the man was most likely a former soldier in the Union Army. Lon

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