Life has its dimensions in the mysterious - Jesse Jackson
Earl Smith purchased land on Mill Creek Road in 1926, and in 1927 began working the land and tearing down an old dwelling known as the Gib Reynolds Estate. On February 3rd, Mr. Smith began dismantling the floor. He noticed an area that had been replaced before, but thought nothing of it until he made a gruesome discovery. Below the floorboards, in an area where rocks had been pushed aside, was a bundle covered in newspapers and lime. As he pulled them up, beneath was a skeleton embedded in the ground wearing woman's shoes.
Mr. Smith contacted authorities who quickly secured the scene and carefully exhumed the remains. An investigation followed and some interesting information came about. When examining the hole in the kitchen floor, detectives could see that the area had been carefully cut, and then replaced and covered. The rocks had been piled to the side, providing a hole big enough to place the said "dismembered body." Newspapers covering the bones had the date torn from them. After an expert looked at them, they were determined to be from Philadelphia, years of 1906 and 1907. The shoes were determined to be about 30 years old and belonged to a female with small feet. Coroner White of Wellsboro made a thorough examination of the bones and said he felt they were surely human. He said they belonged to an adolescent male or female, but was unable to determine the sex. Due to the finding of Lime, it was felt that a murder had taken place, and the substance was used to help hide the overpowering smell and disintegrate the body. Officials asked people to come forward with any information or known disappearances from 30-40 years before.
The discovery was a sensation in the area and there was much talk over who the skeleton could be. Fred Ellison, former Mayor of Corning who grew up in Tioga County, remembered that prior to Gib building his home there, and old hunchback named Morris Walker lived on the property. He disappeared around the time that Gib built the home, and was never seen or heard from again. John Clark, an older man living near Nelson, remembered that years ago a peddler's daughter named Jennie disappeared. For years Jennie and her father sold meat to locals, and one year she returned to take orders, saying her father had died. She was continuing the business, and stopped by the Alec Thorn farm where Mr. Clark was working. After collecting the order and money, she headed on to the next family. She mysteriously disappeared before making it to the end of the road. Jennie even left an expensive churn at the Thorne home but never returned for it. Another disappearance from around the time was Frank Knights, who disappeared shortly after leaving his parents home on Mill Creek Road. He was never heard from again, and left behind a wife and small child.
Gib Reynolds passed away in 1893. His wife died about 25 years later and then Curtis Reed (Son in law of Mr. & Mrs. Reynolds) owned the home for a short while before renting to a number of tenants. The home was later abandoned until Earl Smith purchased the property. There was no one to question as to the identity and the hope of figuring out who the mystery person was seemed grim. A strange turn of events occurred when the District Attorney said a local unnamed hunter had given the opinion that the bones were not human at all, but that they were that of a deer carcass. He was unable to explain why the shoes were found with the bones, why someone would bury them under the floor, along with any other evidence, but did say that Oscar Reynolds, son of Gib, was an animal lover. He felt that it was entirely possible the bones were from a pet deer and that Gib threw his daughters shoes in the hole to get rid of them. There was mention the bones would be given a burial at the county home cemetery.
No one believed for a second that someone would bury a deer carcass beneath the floor of a kitchen, especially because the smell which would have been horrendous. Either way the case was closed and people soon forgot.