Is Anna Mary Stockum a witch searching for her head?

Post courtesy of Haunted Hocking.

Accused as a witch, was her head severed from her body and buried in a separate grave?

It’s a long, pothole-ridden, muddy drive, then a long, mucky walk. There are cliffs and drop-offs, ruts, twists, and two turns to the road that appears to stop in the middle of nowhere. The mud churned up by ATV-running hunters on the archaic County Road 123 is ankle deep in some parts, knee-deep in others. Amidst it all, to think teens have made this trek for more than fifty years in the dark is almost more terrifying than the legend. But they have. They’ve come to look for the ghost of the woman wandering around the Saint Johns Lutheran Church Cemetery searching for her head. Local folklore says it was hacked off by those within her community when they found out she was a witch.

Her body was left to rot in one grave, her head taken out and buried outside the cemetery fence. You see, Anna Mary Stockum had nine children. One of them was mentally handicapped and one day, her husband decided to kill the child and, so he did. He was caught, convicted, and hanged for his crime. 

In retaliation for the hanging, Mary began killing off her children one by one. After the fifth one died, she too was brought to justice. Mary was burned at the stake and buried in the cemetery. Still, the remaining children she had not killed did not get better. One by one, they began to die.

When the sixth child passed away and fearing the worst, the townspeople dug up Mary, as was common practice to block a witch’s curse after death. They severed her head from her body and left it in a shallow grave outside the boundaries of the cemetery. Then they plopped a gravestone on each. Now, she returns to find her head, wandering the cemetery in ghostly form. 

Without too much difficulty, the obsessive researcher can discover Anna Mary Stockum was the wife of Christopher Stockum. The two owned a 315-acre farm around Bacon and the area the cemetery sits upon now. They had emigrated from Hessen, Germany by ship in 1836, a grueling eighteen-week trip on the Brig Aurora and came without a penny in their pocket. They spent much of their lives pushing back the wilderness on their plot in Linton Township and building the land, which later was a valuable farm. 

The 1860 census shows the Stockums had seven children living in the home—Mary-18, Adam-17, Elizabeth-15, John-13, Martin-12, Caroline-11, Jacob-9. By 1870, all the children still appeared to be living. An eighth child, Solomon-9 (1861-1918?), was also listed in the household in the census. Adam, the eldest, had returned from the Civil War to help farm the land. Caroline was the eldest daughter and she maintained the home. Many of their headstones can be seen in the cemetery still-including Jacob and his wife, Nancy, and John . . . . Only one person is missing – Anna Mary, the mother. She had passed August 29, 1863. In late August of that year, there were several other known deaths from people in the tiny community who are buried at the church cemetery. Was it simply some sort of flu epidemic? Or is there more to the story lost in time?

There are two sides to the story

On one hand, there is one that shows on paper the family of Mary Stockum was a typical family. They lived. They died. They were buried in a family plot on their land in Linton Township. They had neighbors by the name of Apple and Gosser, some of which are buried in the cemetery too.

On the other hand, there is a tale told by word of mouth, by story passed down from one to another. It is more exciting, more gruesome and a tale of a crazy witch buried after killing her young. And there are scores of eye-witnesses from hunters to adventure-seekers who have seen the filmy apparition of Mary, heard her screams, been utterly terrified by the ghostly apparition walking around the cemetery. 

An article in the November 11, 1967, Coshocton Tribune by Joanna Ross points out the story was begun by the sight of two graves for Mary, hence one for the body and one for the head. A local caretaker verified it was true. However, his reason was a lot less horrifying and had a more prudent explanation. The initial gravestone was replaced by another. The old gravestone was plopped up next to the fence for lack of a better place to put it.

Now the question is: which of the two stories do you believe? Will you pass the story off as local folklore, roll your eyes and chuckle a little beneath your breath at those who, over the past century, believed the hearsay? Or will you take the more adventurous position and trek into the woods like many before you, see if you can verify the ghost of Mary Stockum and listen for the screams? Because there really was a Mary Stockum and she really did die and was buried there.

Hundreds of people swear they have seen her ghost, heard her yowls. They will tell you that something is there deep in the woods at the old cemetery. If you do, the area is hazardous. It is along an old strip mine and there are cliffs and drop-offs. The road is rutted and muddy. You may hear screams, many have. You may see a milky white form along the road as some have sworn to have seen. And there could, quite possibly, be something more dangerous lurking there. Because now, we only have what is written on paper on census reports and etched in gravestones. It’s just a hint of the past and little more. There are always secrets buried beneath the dirt along with the dead in ghost towns long gone with no one still living to tell us the truth of what went on that hot August summer deep in the farmland and forests of Coshocton County. 

AEP/DNR public areas have rules and regulations. Many include day use activities only. However, unless you’re looking for vampires, you should have no problem searching for the unknown during daylight hours. And please, many of the graves have been knocked over by trees, vandals, and weather. Respect the dead and those who are still living who might have known them.

You may need to park near the intersection of County Road 123 (on right) and 123A (left)— (40.209008, -81.785404). Take 123A to the left, walking the .4 mile back to the cemetery along the old roadway. The road curves, but it is a straight walk to the cemetery, which is on the right (40.210353,-81.779499) and within sight of the roadway. Not a suggested walk at night. There is probably day use only restrictions.

Posted on February 4, 2018 .

Looking back to 1946

Mad Marshall’s Fiancée Takes Over on Flagpole

Herald-Journal: June 27, 1946 - COSHOCTON, Ohio (June 26, 1946) – Mad Marshall Jacobs was out of the running for the flagpole sitting championship today, but his girlfriend, Lonnie Cosmar, the cause of his grounding after 27 days aloft, was up there doing his sitting for him and hoping he would be back Sunday to marry her.

Lonnie, according to spectators, is doing a pretty job of sitting – although she could not quite make it to the top of the 176-foot pole.

Marshall put himself out of the running late last night. Lonnie a flush with the prospects of a marriage at the pole’s top Sunday with the country listening in on the radio, had just told him she was going to Cleveland to arrange for a bridal suite.

Mad Marshall said she was not – that once they were married and he had broken the record by staying on a flagpole until July 4, he wanted privacy.

They both refused to give an inch. So the human fly clambered down his pole and departed in a huff. Lonnie, possibly his ex-sweetheart now, assayed the situation hurriedly and talked the ground crew into hoisting her up almost to the top in a bosun’s chair where they left her dangling.


‘Quiet’ Wedding

to be held for flagpole sitter today

St. Petersburg Times: June 30, 1946 - COSHOCTON, Ohio – Latest reports from the most reliable source indicated yesterday that June Bride Lonnie Cosmar would not be left waiting at the flagpole after all.

Mad Marshall Jacobs called the United Press and said earlier rumors he would not wed Lonnie today atop his 176-foot pole at Coshocton fairgrounds were false.

The wedding will be a quiet affair with nobody there but the preacher, four bridesmaids, several newsreel companies, a national radio network, a national magazine, a blimp and probably several thousand spectators.

Plans have been made for the bride to be hoisted to the high-altitude altar clad in a white satin gown and a flowering veil, with the traditional bride’s bouquet of roses.

Mayor Stuart Hays of Warsaw, Ohio, a veteran showman, will read the ceremony from the ground with the aid of a public address system. The bridesmaids will remain on the ground at the base of the pole.

Jacobs came down from his 16-inch-square perch on top of the pole Tuesday night although he had planned to stay up until July 4. He changed his plans because his managers arranged for “a public honeymoon,” he said. While Marshall wandered over the state as far as Toledo, Lonnie climbed the pole and waited for his return.

The flagpole sitter said he did not object to a public wedding but he did want privacy on his honeymoon.

“I was on exhibition on that pole for 26 days. That was enough,” he said.



Pole Sitter’s Wedding

Helicopter views rehearsal atop 176-foot mast

LIFE Magazine: July 15, 1946 - Last week in Coshocton, Ohio, the U.S. turned another corner in its return to peacetime normalcy. A lovesick flagpole sitter, named “Mad Marshall” Jacobs, 37, who had been sitting on his 176-foot roost for 26 days to revive interest in his art, decided to get married. He came down to earth, proposed to his fiancée, Yolanda (“Lonnie”) Cosmar, 21, a waitress from nearby Clowville, Ohio, that they get married on the flagpole. She said yes and set June 30 as the date. On the afternoon of their wedding, they were hoisted up to the 40-inch diameter perch for a rehearsal. While the justice of the peace stood on the ground, talking through a loudspeaker, LIFE’s cameraman hovered nearby in a helicopter, the only vantage point from which to photograph the big event properly. That night they were really married before 1,700 paying spectators. Mad’s perch, which cost him $3,000 of his war-plant earnings, had all the comforts of home, including a telephone, an electric hot plate, and a chemical outhouse, but the newlyweds decided to come down that evening and spend their honeymoon on the ground.

Posted on February 2, 2018 .

Did you know?

Denton True 'Cy' Young

Cy Young offered $20,000 bribe

Cy Young, as $2,400/year star, offered $20,000 bribe

Baseball Digest: April 1950 - Sixty years ago, a twenty-three-year-old farmer from the Newcomerstown, Ohio, community boarded a train for Canton. He didn't know it then, of course, but the career of baseball's most durable and effective pitcher was being launched.

He was, of course, Denton True Young, destined to become the only pitcher ever to win more than 500 games in the majors and the only pitcher ever to more than 200 games in each of the two big leagues.

Young reported at the Canton park to find only one other candidate on hand. The stranger chatted with the farmer-pitcher and suggested that Young hurl a few to him.

After pitching a couple to warm up, the big farmer really "cut loose." In quicker time than it takes to relate the incident, the stranger was in the office of the Canton manager begging him to sign the mound aspirant.

He was so excited that he fairly shouted:

"That farm boy out there has got so much steam that he has your fence looking like a cyclone struck it."

Thus, the game's most durable pitcher acquired the nickname of "Cy" - from cyclone.

Today, at eighty-three, Cy Young is living a life of ease and probably getting a snicker or two as he reads about the present-day crop of hurlers nursing their ailing flippers and various other afflictions. He resides with his old friends, the John Benedums, at Peoli, Ohio, only a baseball's throw from Gilmore, where he was born, and just a few miles from Newcomerstown.

Cy is in fair health and unusually spry considering his advanced years. Perhaps his longevity is a reflection of the clean, wholesome life he has always led. Certainly, he isn't worried about the possibility of any of his pitching records being exceeded or surpassed.

If you're a teenage baseball fan, your granddaddy will tell you that Young was a big, strapping fellow - six feet two and weighing about 210.

And if you marvel at the achievements of Walter Johnson, Bob Grove, Carl Hubbell, Bob Feller and other pitchers of more recent vintage, take a look at a few of the accomplishments of Cy Young, the first hurler ever elected to the Hall of Fame:

  • Pitched forty-four consecutive runless innings.
  • Pitched twenty-two seasons for five clubs in the two leagues.
  • Won 511 games, lost only 313 for a percentage of .620.
  • Authored three no-hitters, one of them a perfect game against Rube Waddell and the Philadelphia Athletics.
  • Won more than thirty games in a season five times.
  • Struck out 2,832 and walked only 1,102.
  • Pitched twenty-three successive hitless innings.
  • Averaged .737 or better five seasons, three of them consecutively.
  • In his best year, 1892, he won thirty-six and lost only ten for the Cleveland National League club.
  • In 1905 - his sixteenth season in the majors - he fanned 207 and walked only twenty-eight.
  • Appearing in only one World Series (the first, in 1903) he won two games and lost one. In thirty-three World Series innings, he struck out seventeen and issued only four walks.

Young possessed incredible control, striking out two and one-half times as many opposing batsmen as he passed.

Cy says in his day there were no fancy pitches such as the "dipsy-do" or the "blooper." As he explains it with gestures: "I just reared back and flogged 'em through there."

According to Cy, when he was knocked out of the box - every pitcher has a bad afternoon now and then - he just went to the clubhouse and got ready to twirl the next day.

Cy, rugged and powerful and with a great right arm, and Bill Dinneen once pitched (and won) all eight games of a series for the Boston Americans.

As far as high salaries are concerned, Young was born fifty years too soon. In spite of all of his remarkable deeds, his highest stipend was $4,000.

He was a devout and ideal husband. He came home from his first big league season with $1,400 in his pocket and married the girl next door. They traveled hand in hand over the baseball circuit until he retired in 1911. They then returned to their old home in the Tuscarawas County hills but Mrs. Young died in 1934.

Cy said he "didn't care to live in that old house after that." He sold it and moved in with the Benedums, high on a hilltop overlooking his wife's grave in the church cemetery.

There are many sidelights to Young's pitching career not generally known. The great pitcher was once sold for a suit of clothes. The Canton club, with which he entered professional baseball, collapsed and the manager, flirting with bankruptcy himself, sold Cy to Cleveland, then known as the Spiders, for a new suit.

Recently, Cy revealed that at the peak of his career he was approached by a would-be briber who offered him $20,000 if he wouldn't "bear down" in a crucial Boston-Pittsburgh series.

At that time, there were no headline-hunting investigating committees nor were there any laws against bribery.

Perhaps, the only reason Cy didn't swear at the bribe-offerer is because his strongest expression was (and is) "durn." Anyway, he did declare scornfully:

"If you put any value at all on your money, you'd better bet it on me to win."

The next day, Cy went out and clinched the series for Boston, the difference between the $20,000 lure and his $2,400 yearly salary not even entering his head.

Cy got his biggest laugh when he clouted one of his infrequent homers at Cleveland. Let him tell about it:

"I hit one that rolled under the scoreboard in the right field and the ball got struck there. Charley Hickman wrestled with the durn thing trying to get it loose. All the time I was laughing so hard I could hardly circle the bases. I finally made it - but I almost laughed myself out of a home run."

Ironically, as great as his pitching career was, Cy has absolutely no difficulty singling out his number one thrill. He'll tell you:

"My biggest thrill was that perfect game I pitched against Rube Waddell and the Philadelphia Athletics. I had the breaks that day."

"I never thought about a perfect game but I did notice about the sixth or seventh inning that no one on the bench would even talk to me. They wouldn't even come and sit by me. I thought something was wrong."

"Finally, after the ball game was all over, Frank Chance, our first baseman, rushed over and shook my hand. He exclaimed: 'Well, Cy, nobody came down to see me today'."

"Only then did it dawn on me. My teammates were afraid of jinxing my perfect game - that was why they were shunning me on the bench."

Cy's eightieth birthday, March 29, 1947, was observed with a mammoth banquet and ceremony at Newcomerstown. One thousand celebrities, friends, neighbors and well-wishers attended.

There would have been more if it hadn't been for the limited accommodations. As it was, no place in town was large enough to hold the crowd of admirers so they feasted at five different spots and then assembled in the high school auditorium to hear executives and the greats and near-greats of the national pastime pay Cy fitting tributes.

Hundreds sent congratulatory telegrams to him. One came from Connie Mack, who wired: "You made records that never will be equaled by any individual." Mack also sent a check.

When Bill Veeck, then the president of the Cleveland Indians, presented Cy with a new car, he invited the once-famous pitcher to bring the entire population of Newcomerstown to Cleveland for a special day during the summer. June 11 was selected and approximately 4,800 went via train and auto to see the Indians play the Boston Red Sox as Veeck's guests. The occasion was designated as Cy Young Day.

All plants in the community were closed that day, only the weekly newspaper and two banks remained open.

Old-timers in the crowd remembered that one season Cy pitched every other day for a month to boost the Cleveland club (then in the National League) into the Temple Club playoffs, forerunner of today's World Series.

As great as he was, Cy had one thing in common with the other pitchers of his day. He couldn't fool Ty Cobb.

Young still admits:

"He just couldn't be fooled. He could hit to either side, drag a bunt and run like a deer. And once he got on base, he still worried the pitcher because of his terrific speed."

For thirteen years, Cy and Lou Criger were battery mates. While Young was of even temperament and was never chased by an umpire, Criger was forever wrangling with the men-in-blue.

Even now, Cy says:

"You couldn't help but like Lou and you had to stick up for him but I think he sometimes got us into hot water."

Thirteen years ago, Cy appeared in an old-timers' game at Cleveland. On his special day in 1947 at the Municipal Stadium, he was introduced again and had a hankering to "flog" just one more across the plate but the umpire shouted "Play Ball!" before he could carry out his plan.

After twenty-two years in the majors, Young retired at the age of forty-four. He had played with Cleveland in both the National and American Leagues, St. Louis in the National and Boston in both the National and American.

Under terms of the pension system now in effect, Young would have been eligible to draw $100 monthly only six years after quitting the diamond and by this time he would have drawn approximately $40,000.

In recent summers, his favorite pastime has been to sit on the front porch of John Cooley, old show boat captain who lives nearby, and swap yarns of their gone-but-not-forgotten experiences with his host.

You can't get Cy to talk about it but his friends will tell you that the failure of a Dover, Ohio bank in the early 1930's was unkind to him. According to these friends, Young had most of his hard-earned baseball savings deposited in the institution.

Cy says his arm was in good shape even when he decided to quit. He explains that his decision to retire was reached because "I had such a paunch on me I couldn't bend over or field bunts. I made up my mind it was time to quit when a third baseman has to do your fielding for you!"

It was a prank of fate that Cy, after compiling such an outstanding pitching record, should lose his last game. Hurling for the Boston Nationals, he dropped a 1-0 decision to a Philadelphia Phillies' recruit. The rookie's name? Grover Cleveland Alexander.

1939: New Post Office in Newcomerstown

Decorative bas-relief is hung in lobby of local post office

Cesare Stea        (1893-1960) , an Italian immigrant from New York City (born in Bari, Italy August 17, 1893) used a bold and powerful design of men at work manufacturing rasps and files in this relief at the Newcomerstown Post Office, 133 West Canal Street, Newcomerstown, Ohio. His work is characteristic of the industrial imagery used by New Deal artists throughout the nation.

Cesare Stea (1893-1960),
an Italian immigrant from New York City (born in Bari, Italy August 17, 1893) used a bold and powerful design of men at work manufacturing rasps and files in this relief at the Newcomerstown Post Office, 133 West Canal Street, Newcomerstown, Ohio. His work is characteristic of the industrial imagery used by New Deal artists throughout the nation.

The Coshocton Tribune – June 28, 1939

“Men and Machines,” a large plaster bas-relief, was hung in Newcomerstown’s new post office on the west wall of the lobby Monday by Cesare Stea, Sunnyside, NY, sculptor.

Mr. Stea spent many months molding the clay model from which a plaster cast was made. The work was done in the artist’s Sunnyside studio from impressions he had obtained of Newcomerstown during a visit here last November. It was financed by the fine arts division of the Federal procurement bureau.

The bas-relief is 11 feet eight inches long and 49 ½ inches wide. It hangs above the door into Postmaster Katherine Baxter’s office. Four workmen, gathered on industrial machines, are shown in characteristic postures, each intent upon his work.

Artist Stea has been a sculptor for 25 years. He was born in Bari, Italy, and came to America at the age of six. While a boy he started out on his chosen career and later studied in the Beaux Arts Institute, New York City, and the Anton Bourdelle Art School in Paris.

He received additional instruction from Herman McNeil, Sterling Calder and Solom Borgum, well-known American sculptors. In Mr. Stea’s briefcase are some 20 photographs of his past work. “These,” he says, “represent 25 years of effort.”

Several statues from his studio had been accepted by outstanding New York museums and three have been set in the grounds of the New York World’s Fair, Mr. Stea says. The photographs reveal the change in art during the past 25 years from characterizations in their true forms to the present exaggerated “modernistic” trends.

“Modern art is not accepted by people other than artists,” the sculptor explained. “We strive to express a feeling in our modern art rather than simply to reproduce beauty. The bas-relief here in the post office is neither modern nor old fashioned. I have combined both trends into a happy medium that is acceptable to the majority of the people.” He agreed that a strictly modern bas-relief would have found little favor among residents of the typical American town.

At his studio in Sunnyside, Mr. Stea is working on his largest bas-relief. It is 45 feet long and nine feet wide and will be used in the government’s Queens’s bridge housing project in New York, he says.

"Italian immigrant Cesare Stea of New York City used a powerful pattern of men at work in his relief for Newcomerstown, representing the manufacture of rasps and files. His work is characteristic of the industrial imagery used by New Deal artists throughout the nation."

NOTE: In 1941, Mr. Stea also created a terra-cotta relief entitled "Industry" for a post office in Wyomissing, Pennsylvania. Sadly, it has been reported as destroyed.

Cesare Stea's work for the Newcomerstown Post Office, Newcomerstown, Ohio Men and Machines (1939) - Plaster bas-relief, 4.25 x 11.5 feet (Photo by Michael A. Wise,

Cesare Stea's work for the Newcomerstown Post Office, Newcomerstown, Ohio
Men and Machines (1939) - Plaster bas-relief, 4.25 x 11.5 feet
(Photo by Michael A. Wise,

Cesare Stea's Men and Machines (1939) - Plaster bas-relief, 4.25 x 11.5 feet (Photo by Michael A. Wise,

Cesare Stea's Men and Machines (1939) - Plaster bas-relief, 4.25 x 11.5 feet
(Photo by Michael A. Wise,

Other work by Cesare Stea

Cesare Stea's work for the Bowery Bay Sewage Disposal Plant, New York

Cesare Stea's work for the Bowery Bay Sewage Disposal Plant, New York

Newcomerstown History

History of Newcomerstown, Ohio | Oxford Township | Tuscarawas County | Zip Code: 43832

The Newcomerstown Story

from a local telephone directory, circa late 1960's

Newcomerstown is situated in Tuscarawas County and was first an Indian town called "Gekelamukpechunk," which in 1764, under Chief Netawatowes, became the Delaware capital.

The earliest visit by a white man (Christopher Gist) was in 1750. In the Gist journal, it tells what must have been the earliest account of the "Eternal Triangle" and how Newcomerstown got its name. Chief Eagle Feather became tired of his wife Mary Harris, who as a child had been abducted by the Indian raiders. While on one of the tribe's raiding trips to Virginia he captured a younger and more beautiful squaw. Mary Harris became jealous of the "Newcomer" as she was called. One morning the Indian village was aroused by the cries of Mary Harris that her husband Chief Eagle Feather had been murdered, and that the "Newcomer" had fled. She was pursued and re-captured at a small town on the banks of the Tuscarawas River and this town was thereafter always known as Newcomerstown.

Newcomerstown was laid out in 1827 and contained 34 lots in the original plot. There was one building when first plotted, occupied by Nicholas Neighbor, who founded the settlement in 1814. He later built the first store building, which was operated by him and Jacob Overholt. By 1830 there were four buildings, by 1840 population was 270, by 1860, 577. Aaron Schenk's tanning yards were built about 1827. In 1840 Pilling's woolen mill was established; in 1833 a sawmill by Edmund Smith and in 1836 a flour mill. The closest market for farm produce was Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Canal was built in 1827 and by 1860 the traffic on the canal was at its height. Each lock had a tender and nearly every lock had a strange story connected with it; it was a strange and interesting period in the life of the young community of Newcomerstown.

On May 31, 1851, it was announced that the route of the Steubenville - Indiana Railroad would travel from Steubenville, Uhrichsville, and Newcomerstown to Coshocton. It opened for traffic April 1855, but before 1860 passed into receivership. In 1861 it merged with the Pennsylvania Railroad. Greatest of all events connected with the Railroad was in 1861 when President Lincoln passed through on his way to Washington, making a personal appearance on the rear platform of the train just as they do today. During the 1880's the town hall was built and this brought many prominent actors and musicians to the town.

In the latter part of the 19th century, Newcomerstown instituted what became a thriving fair each fall. The fairgrounds are now owned by Mrs. John Kistler.

Newcomerstown may be called the cradle of Protestantism west of the Allegheny Mountains and the first Protestant sermon was delivered to the assembled Delaware Indians at noon on March 14, 1771, by the Rev. David Zeisberger. This event of lasting importance is commemorated by a monument that stands across from the (former) Greyhound Posthouse.

Newcomerstown is also the home to legends.  Several famous sons include Cy Young, arguably the best baseball pitcher of all time, Woody Hayes, the greatest football coach in the history of the Ohio State Buckeyes, and Manuel Yingling, featured trombonist in John Philip Sousa's Band.

Newcomerstown lies about 100 miles south of Cleveland, 100 miles east of Columbus, 100 miles north of Marietta, and 100 miles west of Pittsburgh

Posted on January 30, 2018 .

P.T. Barnum's Grand Colossal Museum and Menagerie with General Tom Thumb came to Newcomerstown in 1852

EDITOR'S NOTE: The admission price of 25 cents was thought to be high at that time because a pair of new shoes could be purchased for 5 cents.


Posted on August 7, 2017 .

The Post Boy murder revisited

The Post Boy Murder:
A famous Tuscarawas County tragedy and its punishment

From THE OHIO DEMOCRAT, January 26, 1888

Narrow escape of an innocent man from the gallows;
Novel manner in which the murder was apprehended

Post Boy is one of the historic places of Tuscarawas County, and its name carries with it a history – noted as the place where a post boy, while in discharge of his official duty, came to his death at the hands of one of the most daring and reckless desperadoes that Tuscarawas County has ever known. The very mention of the name “Post Boy” carries with it the recollection of the foulest and most detestable murder ever committed in this part of the state. It was the only murder ever committed in this county in which the murderer met with capital punishment. It is now more than 62 years since the event transpired and many changes have taken place since that time, but the tragic event is still as fresh in the minds of the people as though it transpired but a few years ago.

This tragedy occurred in the year of 1825, on the 9th day of September, about 150 yards west of the present site where Post Boy, a station on the C. & M. Railroad, now stands. William Cartmell, a youth about 20 years old, was in the employ of the government as carrier of the mail from Freeport to Coshocton, and it was while in the discharge of his duty that an assassin lay in ambush ready to send forth the ball on its mission, which was to shed the life blood of an honorable young man.

John Funson was a young, unmarried man, a resident of Oxford Township, who was more fond of fun and sport than he was of work, and who conceived a bold scheme of how he might obtain money without labor. In those days the Cadiz and Coshocton road was one of the thoroughfares by which the stock buyers and merchants of the West found commerce with the people of the East. It was before railroads were in operation and men were compelled to travel across the country to carry on its business interests. It was along this road that John Funson conceived his bold scheme of murder and robbery. A drover, named Smeltzer, who had gone East would soon past West on his homeward tour and have in his possession a large sum of money, and John Funson had in some way ascertained the facts, and lay in ambush ready and waiting to send the man’s soul into eternity and relieve the pocket-book of its contents. But the drover was three hours late and another man was murdered by mistake.

On the 9th day of September, William Cartmell left Freeport and started on his trip to Coshocton and somewhere along the road he came across a man named Johnson and the two traveled along together until they came to a spring of water by the roadside, about one mile West of the tavern, then known as Booth Tavern, and kept by Mrs. Sarah Booth, where Johnson stopped to get a drink of water while the Post Boy trudged along.

He had not gone more than a hundred and fifty yards when Johnson heard the sharp report of a gun and hastening to the spot found young Cartmell weltering in his life blood, so near death that he was unable to utter a word. There while Johnson was leaning over the lifeless body of young Cartmell, a man emerged from the woods and confronted Johnson, with a remark “Do you say I killed that man?” “No,” Johnson replied, “I have not said so.” Again the stranger asked the same question, and Johnson, looking him full in the face, said, “No, sir, but somebody has killed him and we must alarm the neighbors.” “Well, you go to Booth’s and I will go to Morgan’s and tell them about it,” answered the stranger. To this Johnson objected, saying that they ought to go together. The stranger answered him with an oath, informing him he must do as he was bid or he would shoot him. This ended the parley and while Johnson hurried away and brought help back with him, the stranger returned and rifled the pockets of the murdered boy, and without making any alarm departed unseen by any one, except Johnson, so effectually, that the word of Johnson was doubted, notwithstanding his apparent sincerity. Johnson was arrested as the committer of the dastardly crime, and so strong was the belief that he was the right man that his conviction seemed only a matter of time. It is also said that when Johnson’s track was measured and found too small for the track made by the murderer that it was claimed a mistake had been made and that they would correspond. Johnson was taken to New Philadelphia and lodged in jail as the perpetrator of the horrible crime, but firmly maintained his entire innocence with such an irresistible force of character as no guilty man could command. At length people began to think that Johnson’s word might be true and that the real perpetrator was at large, but might yet be detected and brought to justice. Johnson asserted time and again that if he could see the man whom he had seen at the time the murder was committed, and whom he believed was the guilty party, that he could pick him out from among a thousand men. But fortune had yet another method of detecting the murderer. It was through the careful business methods of the Postmaster at Freeport, John I. Wilson, who kept an accurate and systematic account of all his transactions.

On the morning of the murder, Postmaster Wilson had given the mail boy a $10 bill before he started on his journey to Coshocton, kept the number and an accurate description of the same. A few days after the murder had been committed a description of the bill was printed in the Tuscarawas Chronicle, then published at New Philadelphia, and went forth to do its work.

It was not long after this notice appeared in print until a man named John Funson, who lived in the neighborhood of Newcomerstown, went to Shanesville to get his gun repaired, and tendered the gunsmith in payment for the work done, a ten dollar bill. This gunsmith in turn went to one of the dry goods stores of that place and gave it to the merchant in payment for goods bought. This merchant, who kept himself tolerably well informed in regard to current events, at once recognized the bill as the one advertised by the Postmaster at Freeport to be the bill belonging to the murdered post boy, William Cartmell. This merchant went to the gunsmith and made inquiry in regard to whom he had received the bill from, and learned the facts, that he had received it from John Funson, of near Newcomerstown, in exchange for work done.

Now people began to suspicion that Funson might be the guilty man and Johnson’s assertion that he could pick out the man whom he met at the scene of the murder from among a thousand men, induced the citizens from all parts of the county to assemble at New Philadelphia on a certain day. But the great object in view was that Funson might be one of the number.

On the day before they were to go to New Philadelphia there was a gathering in the neighborhood of the Funson homestead, and John Funson was among the number present. While some of the parties there were conversing about the proposed trip on the morrow Funson emphatically said he did not intend to go. Some of the men present spoke up and said to him that if he did not go the people might think he was the guilty man. This saying induced Funson to go without further parley. When the people assembled at New Philadelphia they were formed in a procession along one of the principal streets, with Funson at the farthest end. Johnson was brought forth from his cell and allowed to view the mass of humanity there assembled, to see if he could find the man whom he had seen at the time the tragedy occurred by the lonely roadside in Oxford Township. When Johnson raised his haggard face to view the men, silence fell upon the crowd, and all eyes were at once fixed upon the prisoner. It was a trying time for Johnson because upon his recognition of the real murderer hung the slender thread – a possibility of liberty or death. At length his eyes fell upon Funson and turning to the officers present exclaimed, “That is the very man.” “You are a liar,” replied Funson. “You are the very man, I know your voice,” reiterated Johnson, and turning to the officers who were with him, told them of a scar they would find upon the wrist of the man. If the scar the scar was not there as described by him he would acknowledge himself mistaken. Upon examination the scar was found just as Johnson had said it would be. Funson was arrested and lodged in jail. The proof was now so strong that Funson was the right man, that Johnson was released and went to his home in the vicinity of Steubenville; but the shock was so great to his system that he never fully recovered from its effects and died shortly afterward a broken hearted man.

Funson was found guilty of murder in the first degree by the grand jury which shortly afterward convened. He was tried at the November term of court upon the indictment, Judge Alexander Harper, of Steubenville, presiding. The prosecuting attorney who prosecuted the case was B. M. Atherton, assisted by John M. Goodman. The prisoner was defended by Walter B. Beebe and S.W. Culbertson. But the evidence was against the prisoner and he was found guilty as charged in the indictment, and in atonement for the crime was sentenced to be hung on the 30th day of December, 1825. The sheriff who was to carry this sentence into execution was Walter M. Blake, who filled several positions of honor and trust, and died in 1865.

The trial commenced on the 16th day of November and lasted but two days, when it was given to the jury who brought in a verdict as above stated. On the morning of the 19th the prisoner was brought into the court to receive his sentence. When asked by the Judge if he had anything to say why sentence should not be passed on him, stammered out a reply that he was not guilty. Judge Harper then proceeded to deliver an address to the prisoner, reviewed the testimony in the case, and concluded with the sentence, which was as follows:

“That you, John Funson, be taken to the jail of this county, and from thence, on the 30th day of December next, to the place of execution, and then and there, between the hours of twelve and two o’clock p.m. of the said day, you be hanged by the neck until you are dead, and may the Almighty, in his infinite mercy, have compassion on your soul.”

As time wore on after the finding of the court and the sentence of the Judge it was supposed that Funson would make a confession, which he did on the morning of the fourth of December to Judge Patrick, who was at that time editor of the Tuscarawas Chronicle. This confession was full of remorse, the prisoner even going so far as to say after he had killed the mail boy, that he would willingly have given his own life if he could have only restored the life he had taken. Upon on occasion when John Funson was away from home without money and without friends, he was taken sick but came across William Cartmell, who took him to his home and cared for him until he was able to go to his own home. Thus Funson paid the debt of gratitude and benevolence with murder. The scaffold on which John Funson was hung was erected on a slight elevation just west of New Philadelphia and which is at the present time a suburb of the county seat.

On the morning of the execution the citizens from all parts of the county and some from distant parts of the state began to assemble at New Philadelphia, and by morn the streets were a solid mass of humanity, all eager to witness the law imposed duty of seeing John Funson launched into eternity. Shortly after noon the sheriff did his duty and the lifeless body of John Funson hung to the breezes. After life was extinct the body was turned over to his two brothers who took it to their home east of Newcomerstown and buried it near their father’s residence, and fell two large trees across the grave. This spot which marks the last resting place of John Funson is about one hundred and fifty yards northwest of the Ohio Canal, and looks as though it might have been the place where a tree had once blown out by the roots – a slight elevation and then a depression. The decayed bodies of the two trees may yet be seen lying across the grave just as they were more than 60 years ago. Just how long John Funson conceived his scheme of murder and robbery before he carried it into execution is only a matter of conjecture and that secret he carried with him to the grave. But at any rate, from the circumstances surrounding what is already known it must have been for some time. The gun with which he killed William Cartmell he secured from John Hursey, who lived on Dunlap Creek, in Washington Township, about ten days or two weeks before the murder was committed. After Funson was arrested and had paid the penalty of death, the father of John Funson took the gun back to John Hursey and got the one his son had left in exchange.

Anyone passing along the Cadiz and Coshocton road past the spot where the post boy was murdered will see the letters “J. F.” cut in a small tree by the roadside and directly under the letters, the figures “1825.” These letters stand for John Funson and the figures for the year in which the murder was committed. This tree stands directly opposite the spot and but a few feet distant from the place where William Cartmell met his death.

The Funson song of 1825

John Funson, a youth about twenty years old,
With daunt on his courage, most brilliant and bold,
He was neat, tall and handsome, light hair and blue eyes,
He sought his own ruin by seeking a prize.

He murdered young Cartmell, a boy of renown,
On the road leading from Freeport to Coshocton town,
He murdered and robbed him of money and goods,
He made his way home through a thicket of woods.

Young Johnson was nigh when the gun at him was shot,
Hearing the reports advanced on the spot.
Soon after young Funson was making quite free
Of money he had taken from the murdered boy.

Soon after young Johnson in prison was bound,
He denied all accusations against him was found,
He says I was nigh when the gun it was shot,
I heard young Cartmell halloo and advanced to the spot.

‘Squire Morgan took Funson and brought him straightway
Unto New Philadelphia his actions to try.
The jury found him guilty, and the judge to him did say,
You shall hang by the neck, sir, until you are dead.

On the fourth of December, quite early in the morn,
He called on the judge to confess what he had done.
He says I have murdered whom I did not intend,
I would give my own life to restore him again.

He was led to the gallows on a cold, stormy day,
He was dressed in a shroud that was awful to see.
His two brothers that day in a cart did appear,
To haul the dead body of their brother away.

And when they got there they wept and did cry,
To think their poor brother on the gallows must die,
Two doctors stood by his pulse to feel,
Thinking when buried his body to steal.

It’s forbidden by law, it’s counted not right,
To steal a dead body on a cold, stormy night,
We hope this will be decked, and counted no spite,
It’s an end to my song, and I will bid you good night.


Posted on August 3, 2017 .

175th anniversary of the Post Boy murder

By Mitchell L. Wise, 2000

When stories are handed down from generation to generation, those stories sometimes turn from history to folklore. Such is the case with the 175-year-old tale of the “Postboy Murder.” Although the murder of the mail carrier and the prosecution of his murderer are in no doubt facts, many other details gathered on the events through various sources are sometimes suspect. Many articles have been written on the subject for whom the small community of Postboy gets its name. With the resources that I have available at this time, I would also like to add my version.

The tale took place in the year 1825. The construction of the Ohio Erie Canal had only just begun.

Transportation in the young state of Ohio was slow and required lengthy treks through rugged hillsides and thickets.

Mr. John Cartmell had built a cabin on the eastern edge of Coshocton and had contracted with the authorities of the time to carry the mail from Coshocton to Freeport. His son William was eager to take part in his father’s business adventure and was soon traveling the mail route on his own.

The exact age William Cartmell at that time is not available but he is often described as a young man, and a mere lad.

The main road from Coshocton to Cadiz and Wheeling, Virginia was called the “big road.” It was a thin dirt path that was full of hardship and held danger at every turn. The thought of a “mere lad” on this route alone in those days is hard to imagine, but it was on this road that young William was forced to travel to deliver his mail.

In those days traders called drovers would drive their products eastward to the Ohio River and sell their goods that were destined for the eastern states. These drovers also used the big road.

One of the more successful drovers of that time was a man named Smeltzer. His business was widely known along the trail. After delivering their goods to the east, these drovers would usually be paid in silver and large amounts of this precious currency would be carried in large saddle bags as the drover traveled back to his home on horseback.

The Postboy, William Cartmell also traveled by horseback and because the mail that he delivered was also carried in saddlebags, it is easy to see how he could have been mistaken for a drover.

On this particular mail delivery in September of 1825, young Cartmell would befriend a man named William Johnston. Not much is known of Johnson except that he was from Steubenville and was also heading west toward Coshocton. Cartmell and Johnston seem to have developed a friendship at some time during the trip, perhaps at the tavern located on the big road about fifteen miles east of Coshocton. During the long trips along this road travelers would often stop at the friendly tavern to spend the night. On the night of September 8, 1825 Cartmell and Johnson spent the night at the inn and departed the tavern together early the next morning on September 9.

A few miles east of the tavern lived John Funston. Funston is described as a farmer and he and his family “squatters.” They lived in a hollow a few miles east of the tavern. They were a dirty lot and not well liked or trusted. Three grown men occupied the shack and John Funston was the worst of the three. He was lazy and selfish, a tall thin man of 26 years. He was never seen without his long rifle. A local man who needed help on his farm had offered him honest work, but Funston chose an easier way to earn a living, a dishonest way.

Cartmell and Johnston began their morning journey, they had only traveled about one mile from the tavern before Johnson became thirsty and stopped by a natural spring to get a drink for himself and perhaps for his animal. Some accounts say Johnston was on foot. Cartmell was on horseback and continued eastward toward his home in Coshocton County.

As Johnson knelt by the cool spring, he was startled by the sound of a loud shot. Johnston hurried in the direction of young Cartwell but it was too late, the young man lay dead in the road. He had been shot in the back and his mailbag was gone.

Suddenly, a dark figure appeared from the thicket and approached Johnson. It was John Funston carrying his long rifle. Johnson turned toward Funston defensively, which cause Funston to ask, “ Someone has shot this boy. Do you say I killed him?”

Johnston feared for his life and appeased the man by saying, “No, I don’t know who did it.” But Johnson did know. He kept his eyes on the stranger at all times. He also noticed a scar on the Funston’s hand.

Funston wanted to make a getaway and suggested they should split up. He told Johnston to go back to the tavern to tell the occupants there while he would go on westward to the next farmhouse. Johnson agreed and hurried back to the tavern.

The proprietor and others at the lodge were summoned to the murder site but “the other man” of whom Johnston spoke never appeared. This fact led many to accuse Johnston of being the murderer.

Soon Johnston found himself fettered hand and foot in the Tuscarawas County Jail at New Philadelphia. Johnston’s constant plea of innocence and the claim he could identify the real murderer led the authorities to invoke a “writ of Posse comitatus” or Power of the County. All of the adult males who lived in the immediate area of the murder were summoned to the county seat and lined up in front of the jail.

Johnston was brought out still in shackles and walked along the line of men. If he were not able to identify the killer it would probably mean his life. Funston was in attendance because if he had not appeared the suspicion of guilt would have been pointed at him immediately. During the lineup, Funston had tried to shrink back out of the line and became fearful as Johnston approached.

“You are the man!” Johnston shouted at Funston.

“You are a liar!” Funston replied.

“Now, I am certain when I hear you talk,” said Johnston.

The identification was complete when the scar on Funston’s hand was discovered and other evidence was revealed such as a ten-dollar bill that was known to be in the postboy’s mailbag.

Johnston was released and Funston went on trial on November 16, 1825.

Within three days a jury had found Funston guilty of murder and Judge Alexander Harper pronounced the sentence of death and set December 30, 1825 as the date for the execution.

On December 28, Funston attempted to hang himself in his cell with his suspenders. The attempt failed and Funston received a severe head injury for his trouble. When he revived, he made a full confession of his crime to Judge James Patrick. Funston said he had mistaken the Postboy for the rich drover named Smeltzer.

On a cold and rainy December 30, a large crowd watched Funston hung from a gallows built by John B. Sappington. The carpenter was paid $10 for his handiwork; David Miller provided two ropes for $1.62 and ½ cents. Funston was led to the gallows followed by a wagon that held his coffin. Sheriff Walter M. Blake stood by with a watch and an ax. At the appointed time he used the ax to cut a rope that held the trap door beneath Funston’s feet. Funston became the only person ever executed in Tuscarawas County.

The weather at the time of the hanging was said to have been so terrible that some who attended it died from exposure.

Funston’s body was taken by his two brothers back to Newcomerstown and was secretly buried on their farm about three miles east of town.

During and following his incarceration, William Johnston experiences severe emotion trauma. Although he returned to his home in Steubenville, he would continue to suffer emotional breakdowns and died within the next year.

The Postboy, young William Cartmell, was buried near his father’s home outside of Coshocton. Years later a plow operated by William Sprinkle unearthed the small skull of the Postboy.

A large oak tree on a sharp curve once marked the spot where the murder was said to have occurred. Today, on Postboy Road in southern Tuscarawas County, the tree is almost gone and only a twenty-foot trunk of it still remains.

In later years the small community of Postboy grew prosperously for a short time with a local lumber industry, a station on the Cleveland and Marietta Railroad, and a general store.

Today, Postboy is a small farming community that is known for its treacherous winter roads. In 1825 the roads were also treacherous and the story continues to be told.

Posted on August 3, 2017 .

Tuscarawas County, Ohio

Article and photos courtesy of Tuscarawas County, OH at

Founded in 1808

On March 15, 1808, Tuscarawas County became the 27th county to be officially recognized by the State of Ohio. Early meetings of the county officials were held in a local tavern and on June 28, 1808, the County Commissioners authorized the building of a two-story structure with a jail on the first floor and county offices on the second. A contract for this log building which also served as a church was given to Peter Minnich for $1,500. It was 30' by 40' and was constructed on lots provided by New Philadelphia founder, John Knisely.

Second Courthouse

In 1818, the county had outgrown the building and the Commissioners advertised for a new building. It was not completed for seven years and the contracts totaled $7,468. When the 1825 Commissioners had financial difficulties, they rented an upstairs room in the building to the Masonic Lodge #59 for $12 per year. The architecture of the building was like that of the original state capital building in Chillicothe. Most of the first floor was used as the courtroom. The Clerk and the Auditor each had one office also on the first floor. The second floor had a separate room for juries. The building was renovated in 1837 after fire damage and the courtroom occupied the entire first floor post renovation.

1882 Courthouse

In 1882, the county's third courthouse was designed by architect Thomas Boyd and built by T.B. Townsend of Zanesville for a contract price of $98,860. Townsend purchased the old building from the county for $900 and used the bricks for fill material for under the new building. On October 25, 1882, the cornerstone was laid after a parade longer than 2 miles which converged on the Public Square. Over 10,000 people attended the cornerstone laying ceremony. The stone for the building was from a quarry in Medina, causing a special railroad track to be built to the site of the Courthouse. The building was 96' by 112' and consisted of 38 rooms on 3 floors and an attic.

This Courthouse was constructed with a dome with a statue of 3 women made from zinc or lead-like metal weighing more than 699 pounds and was 10' wide. It was called the Three Ladies of Justice and had to be removed for safety reasons in 1959. The heads of these ladies are on display in the Commissioners' Board room. Topping the dome today is a cupola which was lifted into place by a helicopter on July 26, 1973. Currently the Courthouse building houses the Common Pleas courtrooms and administrative offices of Judge Edward Emmett O'Farrell, Judge Elizabeth Lehigh Thomakos and Judge Linda Kate. The ground floor houses the County's Law Library and Board of Elections. The Courthouse is on the National Register of Historic Buildings. 

The Weathervane

The second county courthouse was adorned by a weathervane in the shape of a fish on top of a ball on a long red rod, known as the "Weatherfish". Upon removing the weathervane to construct the third courthouse, large holes were discovered in the ball portion which were believed to have been caused by celebrating Civil War veterans during their returning home parade and celebration. 

The Clock

The 1882 Courthouse houses a 1888 Seth Thomas clock with solid brass gears. It is 8' tall and has a 225 pound solid cast iron pendulum. The faces on the portions showing outside are 6' in diameter, made of glass 1" thick. The clock has to be wound once a week with the help of a small motor. The bell is rung by a hammer.

County Office Building

On October 27, 1990, the Tuscarawas County Office Building, adjacent to the Courthouse, was opened to the public for its dedication and open house. The building was designed by MKC Associates Inc. and has a total of 54,500 square feet. The land was obtained by the county after a fire destroyed the existing building on the lot. 

1995-96 Renovation

During 1995 and 1996, renovation was completed of the 1882 Courthouse, with design help from Fisher and Associates Architects Inc. The emphasis was to restore the building to its original splendor. The wood trim was stripped to its original black walnut color, the ceramic tile floors were cleaned and repaired, the ceilings were raised to the original 14' height and the walls were painted using historic Victorian color schemes. A canvas mural depicting lady justice complete with scales and sword was discovered beneath a lowered ceiling. It was restored and framed and is on display in Judge Thomakos' courtroom.

The murals on the rotunda walls depict historical scenes in the county, a steel mill (east wall), ox drawn farm equipment and gasoline powered equipment (west wall), pioneers arriving in covered wagons (south wall) and cabins which housed the pioneers (north wall). 

The rotunda also features four painted portraits, which were finally labeled during the renovation and are: Colonel Mathias Bartilson, former Tuscarawas County Prosecuting Attorney and a Civil War colonel (south wall), Robert Hunter Nugen, former superintendent to the Ohio-Erie Canal, member of the U. S. House of Representatives as well as delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1860 (east wall), George W. McIlvaine, former mayor of New Philadelphia, Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Judge and Ohio Supreme Court Justice (north wall), and Charles H. Mitchener, former Judge, and co-founder of a local newspaper "The Ohio Democrat" (west wall).

Courtyard Monuments

Posted on July 21, 2017 .

The Mayors of Newcomerstown

  1. John Wilson 1868-1872
  2. E. S. Pocock 1872-1878
  3. J.R. Mulvane 1878-1879
  4. S. F Timmons 1879-1880
  5. J. T. Pocock 1880-1885
  6. S. F Timmons 1885-1888
  7. W. R. Crater 1888-1894
  8. George Gardner 1894-1896
  9. J. D. Longshore 1896-1900
  10. J. A. Burris 1900- 1902
  11. U. F. Fryer 1902-1906
  12. H. G. Little 1906-1908
  13. M.B. Kennedy 1908-1910
  14. Lloyd Murphv 1910-1914
  15. J. S. Brown 1914-1916
  16. J.E. Tufford 1916-1920
  17. J. C. Ross 1920-1922
  18. Walter T Banning 1922-1923
  19. C. R. Starker 1923-1924
  20. M. L. Oliver 1924-1928
  21. Marion Mercer 1928-1930
  22. M.L. Oliver 1930-1932
  23. Harvey M. Kail 1932-1934
  24. C.B. Mugford 1934-1939
  25. Earl Treasure 1939-1945
  26. E. T. Barthalow 1945-1947
  27. Forost Smith 1947-1948
  28. Fred Reed 1948-1951
  29. Lorin Gadd 1952-1957
  30. Dilford Beiter 1958-1959
  31. James A. Tufford 1960-1965
  32. Charles E. Holdsworth 1966-1966
  33. Chester E. Sharrock 1967-1972
  34. Ronald Hooker 1972-1973
  35. Charles E. Holdsworth 1973-1975
  36. Robert Hall 1976-1979
  37. Charles E. Holdsworth 1980-1981
  38. Dennis Belle 1981-1983
  39. Charles Yingling 1984-1986
  40. Miller Krebs 1986-1987
  41. Gordon DeMarco 1987-1992
  42. Kelly Ault 1992-1993
  43. Wayne J. McFarland 1994-1999
  44. Jim Carr 2000-2007
  45. Steven B. Guy 2008-2011
  46. James A. Friel 2012-2015
  47. Patrick M. Cadle 2016-present
Posted on July 19, 2017 .