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The Deadly Cave

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Bloodyhounds View Drop Down
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Joined: 25 Jul 2011
Location: Mosiman Road
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    Posted: 28 Jan 2015 at 9:07pm
I love this story! It makes me want to go exploring! lol
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LHelton View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 Mar 2017 at 4:25pm
Full articles from the Middletown Signal/Journal, June 30, July 7, & July 14, 1892 are now complete two posts above.
Larry Helton - Historical Society of Madison Twp.
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Post Options Post Options   Quote LHelton Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 26 Dec 2017 at 4:30pm
Middletown Cave Research, Mary Ann Olding, April 14, 1997

National Underground Railroad, Freedom Center, 312 Elm Street, 20th Floor, Cincinnati, Ohio, 45202, 513-768-8292, ask for Eric

Research Trip - Meet at 10:00 A.M., April 19, 1977, Weatherwax Club House - 937/425-7886, From I-75, Exit #32, St. Rt. 122 west, turn left onto Mosiman Road. See attached map. Rain or shine, no cancellations.

Description of Cave
The story is: A 67-year old man named John _____ relates two separate tragedies that he experienced in the 1840s before the Civil War. The articles are in the 1892 Middletown Journal about a cave six miles west of Middletown and east of his father's farm. In the account, two groups of people died. The first incident in 1845(7) involved Naturalists and Geologists who by orders of the Dept. of Washington City, D.C. had come to examine the cave. The second account in 1849 involves the death of 21 escaping slaves on the Underground Railroad.

In the first story, John and his father went to the Cincinnati to meet the men. They arranged to take them to explore the cave:

"We all went to work tearing down the stone walls and banks of earth concealing the mouth of the cave. This done we went to work placing the ropes, ladders, shovels, picks, axes, lamps, canoe, provisions, etc. inside the mouth of the cave. All being ready, the four men bade us goodbye, and entered the cave. The next morning we made our first visit and got there as requested, at sunrise...when father cried out, "John, stop! The air we breathe, even here, is impregnated with poisonous gas! Out, out of this death trap.""

The second tragedy occurred in 1849, when a doctor from Hamilton was transporting 21 slaves north on the Underground Railroad. They had to change their route since " since they could not reach West Elkton in safety," so he hid them in the cave. John's father warned the doctor that the cave had poisonous gas. The next day when the doctor arrived at the cave entrance, he went in and said, "the four are dead, yes, dead! I saw them, counted them, but just beyond them, I saw the bones of many men, how many I could not count."

John, who may have been a Quaker because his mother used the pronouns "thee" and "thy" described the cave in the newspaper account:

"As near as I can remember, it was in 1823 when my father pointed out to me the entrance leading to the mouth of the cave, not more than six miles from Middletown. This entrance was pointed out to my father, ......, and made promise that he would not divulge the secret to anyone, except to one of his own sons. As I withholding only the location of the entrance to the cave...I determined to make attempt at least to enter the cave to satisfy my curiosity. I made the attempt in the fall of 1842. The peculiar and careful construction of the entrance leading to the mouth of the cave, shut off all light and soon found myself I absolute darkness. I ventured into the opening unmindful of danger, and the first thing I know I fell headlong into a lake of ice cold water. I retreated as well as I could, got out and back to the entrance, and then was entirely satisfied and not at all disposed to attempt it again."

Phone Conversations and Interviews

Middletown People
- Don Alstaetter, retired principal of Monroe High School in Butler Co., now lives on a boat on the Ohio River.
- Choppy Saunders (James), Chair of Middletown City Commission, 78 years old.
- John Kurzynowski, golf pro, Weatherwax Golf Course.
- Tom Strieff, Sr., was at golf course during construction.
- Joy Jones, historian, wrote for Middletown newspaper.
- Doris Page, Trenton historian.

Archaeologists
- Al Tonetti, ASC Group, worked in Dayton Area for 18 years.
- Dr. Robert Riordan, Director, Archeology Dept., Wright State University.
- Tony De Regnacourt, Arcanum, home.
- Robert Genheimer, Museum of Natural History, former OHPO SW Ohio regional office.
- Kevin Pape, Gray & Pape.
- Rebecca Bennett, UC Archaeology Dept.
- WAPORA, Laura, archaeology firm.
- Mike Watson, Germantown surveyor and archaeologist.
- Martha Potter Otto, Head, Ohio Historical Society, Columbus.

Historians
- Glenn Harper, SW Ohio Regional Director, Ohio Historic Preservation Office.
- Steve Gordon, OHPO, National Register Manager, Columbus, former SW Ohio regional office and graduate of Miami University at Oxford.
- David Simmons, Timeline Magazine, Ohio Historical Society, former resident of Darke County and graduate of Miami University at Oxford.
- Claudia Watson, Asst. Director, Montgomery Co. Historical Society.

Cave Experts
- Wittenburg University.
- Jackie Bellwether, Museum of Natural History.

Books, atlases, maps, etc. (this is not an exact library reference, please forgive)
- Atlas surveyoy maps, 1836.
- Atlas of Butler County, 1875.
- County of Butler Atlas and History, 1895.
- Butler County Atlas, 1914.
- Quadrangle 7" Middletown, topographical map, 1959, revised 1981.
- History of Ohio, Henry Howe, 1846, 1887.
- Mysteries of Ohio's Underground Railroad, 1951, Siebertm Wilkbur H.

- Middletown Journal, June 30, July 7, July 14, 1892.
Larry Helton - Historical Society of Madison Twp.
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