A Kentucky Catacomb – aka The Bone Cave

The New York Herald, Tuesday 13 December 1870, pg. 9
Story from the Glasgow, KY Times

“One day last week a party of hunters chased a fox into a cave about 5 miles from this place, on Beaver Creek, near the residence of Rev. William Neal. They entered the cave, and exploring it found a number of human bones in a small chamber that had heretofore been unknown to them. The cave, which is about 20 paces to the right of Columbia Road (AN: today’s US 68-80 east), on the hillside, just beyond Beaver Creek, is entered through a chasm in the earth, which has solid rock walls. At the depth of 20 feet, two avenues lead off, one to the right, the other to the left; these avenues are large, easy access, and have been often explored. In neither of them, however, have human remains been found, or anything of unusual character discovered.
“But in the right, or southern avenue, there is a small fissure in the rock that leads off in an eastern direction, just large enough to admit the body of a man. The fissure, which is about 20 feet in length, and is passed through with utmost difficulty, leads to a small, oblong chamber, 18 feet in length, and about 20 feet from floor to ceiling. Save the torturous fissure, by which access is gained to this mysterious chamber, there is no visible outlet, nor evidence of one ever having existed. The walls and ceiling are almost literally composed of rock, covered with the formations peculiar to the caves of this section of country.
“It is in this mysterious little chamber that the remains alluded to were found – those of at least ten human beings in all. These remains were found exposed above the surface, and on each there was a limestone formation produced by the dripping water from the ceiling above. Near the center of the chamber 7 skulls, with almost every bone that composes the human anatomy, were found – some protruding from the surface and others as deep down as 18 inches, some perfectly sound and others so much decayed that they would not admit removal. There was no order or regularity in the arrangement of the remains, for in one instance 3 skulls were taken but in less than a foot of each other. Nothing remains, or could be discovered, save the bones, the clothing and flesh have long since rotted away, and thus destroyed every evidence of identity.
“No clue has been or is ever likely to be obtained to unravel the mystery that surrounds this subterranean chamber of the dead, and thus far all seem to be lost in conjecture and wonderment. Beyond question however, this cave must have been used by the robbers and murderers who infested this section of the country in early days as a place of deposit for their murdered victims. Its situation, the entrance being concealed, yet within 25 paces of the Columbia road, much traveled in the early days, the security of this little eastern chamber from the invasion even should the main cave be entered, taken in connection with the fact that no human beings – not even the aborigines – would have sought a place so difficult of access for the simple burial of the dead, or deposited the remains with so little regard to order – all these considerations lead us to the belief that the bones unearthed in this dim-vaulted sepulchre are the remains of the unfortunate victims of crime.
“Within a few days past we have heard of a number of persons – mostly travelers – who many years ago disappeared while in this section of country and were never afterward heard of. One instance is remembered where a horse and buggy, belonging to a traveler from Virginia, were found loose upon the road near the cave, its owner missing and never heard from.”

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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