One of the many archaeological mysteries from this area was the reported finding of giant prehistoric human skeletons.
"On the earth there once were giants." Greek poet Homer wrote in 400 B.C.
Of the many archaeological mysteries, one of the most enigmatic has been discoveries of giant prehistoric human skeletons.
Marion County was home to part of the ancient civilization which historical accounts and artifacts indicate existed in this region - a culture with many clues and questions concerning its existence. What mysterious people constructed earthen forts, burial mounds, macadamized roadways? Who left pictographs, inscribed stones and giant skeletons lo be discovered?
In the 1850s while excavating a root cellar in Palatine (East Fairmont), workers uncovered two very large human skeletons. Measuring the bones, people were amazed to find the entombed humans had been more than 7 feet tall.
Many curious onlookers observed the skeletons which mysteriously disappeared overnight, apparently stolen for greedy purpose. A lucrative market in "Indian relics" existed in the early I9th century. Artifacts from all over Marion County were sold to travelers and purchasing agents representing Eastern museums.
It was reported that hundreds of ancient pieces of pottery, flint weapons, stone carvings and skeletons were peddled at the Valley Falls railroad station. Some of the finest specimens were purchased by visiting German royalty and taken to Europe as curios.
In 1875 workmen were constructing a bridge near the mouth of Paw Paw Creek at Rivesville. While digging through heavy clay soil they were astonished to uncover three giant skeletons strands of reddish hair clinging to the skulls. A local doctor was called to examine the remains.
Exposure to air deteriorated the bones rapidly to but the doctor was able ascertain after careful measurement, the skeletons had supported people approximately 8 feet tall.
In September 1882 amateur archaeologist F.M. Fetty and his wife were exploring along White Day Creek. As Mr. Fetty crawled back into the recesses of an over-hanging cliff shelter he noticed an unusual pattern in the rock formation.
Upon close examination a false wall was discovered in the back of the shallow cave. Removing several large stones the Fettys were startled by what they found. The remains of a giant human in a sitting position with artifacts of stone and flint surrounding the prehistoric cadaver.
In the summer of 1883 James A. Faulkner unearthed an unusually large human skeleton in the same area. Dr. Samuel Kramer of Smithtown measured this skeleton and found it to be 7 feet 4 inches long. Dr. Kramer deduced the living person must have been almost 8 feet tall.
There have been historical references to a mystic race of giant red-haired humans inhabiting this continent in the distant past. Respected Biblical scholars think a lost tribe from Israel once lived in North America. Evidence exists of 5th-century Irish monks exploring West Virginia. Many questions remain to be answered.
Everyone loves a mystery and these giant skeletons reported by reputable people would make Sherlock Holmes scratch his head. This is another intriguing story of Marion County's past that will forever be unexplained.
By Dave Cain