‘Petrified Man’ still baffles today
By Karen Dye
R.L. Hottel and Levi and Marion Smith are quite sanguine that they knew the petrified man in life. They say that he very much resembles a man named Adam Klux, who lived over in Lawrence County before and up to the commencement of the late war. Klux never joined the Army, but in 1862 he went off to Neosho with a company of soldiers, and while there he became detached from the company. He went off with and was taken prisoner by the Southern soldiers and it was afterward reported that he was killed. He has not been heard from since the war and it has always been supposed that he was killed by the soldiers there. Klux was a tall, powerful built man and had the reputation of being a “bully,” as he was always getting into a fight with someone, and in one fight one ear was bitten off by his antagonist. The petrified man had a portion of one ear off, and this with other circumstances should make the identification of these gentlemen at least plausible. Levi Smith claims that the man, Klux, had a Roman nose also; this the petrified man has very clearly.—-Sarcoxie Tribune
On March 9, 1895 the St. Louis Globe reported that the petrified man replevin case returned a verdict for the defendants. This meant that the jury did not believe that the petrifaction was the body of Adam Kluck/Cluck, a Union soldier who was killed at Neosho, Mo. in 1862 when Col. Coffee raided the town. Apparently, Mrs. Sarah E. Stillions/Stillings did not appeal the case.
The defense established that in 1842 a man named West, of Kentucky, died near Neosho, and was buried about where the petrified man was found. The jury in the petrified man case returned a verdict in 10 minutes after the case had been submitted yesterday for the defense and thus very frankly admit that they don’t know who the petrified man is, but they do know that he is not Adam Cluck, who was killed either at Neosho or Fayetteville, Ark. in the line of battle or as a union prisoner in 1862. Mrs. Sarah E. Stillians, who had the injunction served and who tried to prove that the stone is the remains of her father Adam Cluck, is still of that opinion, but it is not known what further legal steps she will take.
The testimony offered in the rock man case does not exactly identify him, but the most likely theory is that it is the remains of one West, who with a party in a wagon, started west from Kentucky in 1842 and near Neosho he died and was buried on the roadside. The grave was in a spot that very much resembled the place where the petrified man was found. A witness who helped lay out the mover, West, testified that he is of the opinion that the petrified man is West. The West family is yet to be heard from —-The Springfield Democrat
In June of 1896 the body left for Rocky Comfort, Texas. At that time, he was owned by J.M Culp of Newtonia and the Montgomery Brothers of Rocky Comfort. Tom Hill of Rocky Comfort accompanied the body and Joe McCracken would assist in looking after him while in Texas.
In 1898 Mr. Rose purchased the body and had it shipped to Newkirk for a sideshow.
The rest of the journey leading up to the purchase by Mr. W.M. Rose of Newkirk is unknown, nor is it known what did, indeed, happen to the body of the petrified man.
Extensive research has been completed on what has happened to him. The Kay County Sheriff’s office does not have records dating back to 1942. The Medical Examiner’s Office did not exist in 1942. A check with the Sam Noble Museum, aka the Stovall Museum in Norman does not have him. Neither does the anthropology department at the University of Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Historical Society does not have him. A check of the Newkirk Cemetery records does reveal an “unknown” burial at this time period. Miller-Stahl Funeral Services has many early day records but nothing on the petrified man in any of those records. Sheriff Harsh’s daughter remembers going to the jail and seeing the body but as she was only a child, she does not know what happened to the body.
If anyone knows a member of the E.E. Bode family that might have any idea what happened to the body, would you please contact the Newkirk Herald Journal. There were rumors that at one time the body was stored under the stage at the high school, as Mr. Bode was the custodian.