Jacob Funk, Fred Eckhardt, or Frank Hawkins?

Here’s an episode from CSI: Dale Township, 1908, as reported in the Fairfax Forum and reprinted in the Skidmore New Era (Skidmore, Missouri), February 6, 1908, page 1:

Is Probably Identified.

Under the above head the Fairfax Forum has the following to say of the skeleton found hanging to a bush on a creek bank about six miles west of this place:

“Information reached this office this week that virtually establishes the fact that the skeleton found in Dale township twelve years ago and partially identified as the body of Jacob A. Funk was really that of Fred Eckhardt, a butcher and sausage maker who had lived at Glenwood, Iowa.

In an article published in the Forum two weeks ago when the return of Funk established the fact that the remains were not his a review of the entire case was given. In this it was stated that a valise was found with the remains in which were the tattered remains of two letters. One was postmarked Glenwood, Iowa, and begun with “Dear Fred” and spoke of $5 being enclosed and stated that he could have his old job at the same wages. This was signed by what was taken to be “J. D. Chesney or Cheney.” The date of the postmark was February 1905. This evidence caused many to think that the body was not that of Funk, but as it was so identified the matter was allowed to drop.

Among those who read the recent article was R. S. Cheyney of Glenwood, and in a letter received this week he gives facts that seems to fully clear up the mystery. He says that prior to 1895 Fred Eckhardt, a butcher and sausage maker, worked for him but quit and went to Maryville. From there he wrote Mr. Cheyney agreeing to come back if he could get the same wages as before and he would send him money to pay his way.

Mr. Cheyney thinks that it was in March or April 1895 that he wrote him to come, sending him $5. This letter, except the little discrepancy in date, tallies exactly with the one in the valise of the dead man. He describes Eckhardt as being 45 years old, 5 feet 8 inches high, with dark hair and very high cheek bones. He was a skillful workman but at times a hard drinker and was subject to fits of despondency.

The high cheek bones of the skeleton was one of the features claimed in identifying the skull as that of Funk. The statement that Eckhardt owned a cheap black valise and reference to his melancholy disposition taken in connection with other facts seems convincing proof that the body was his and that he committed suicide. He was hanged with a chalk line doubled two or three times and in such a manner as to indicate that he had deliberately strangled himself. Only the skull was attached to the cord when found the other bones having dropped to the ground.

The fact was also mentioned in the article of two weeks ago that Frank Hawkins, a student had started on foot from Maryville in February 1895, and had not been heard of and some supposed the body to be his. A letter was received this week from Art Ledbetter, a hardware man of Kensington, Kan., saying that Frank Hawkins was a cousin of his and had not been heard of since he left Maryville. He was 22 years old with light curly hair, was a good dresser and was very moral. It is positive, however, that this was not the skeleton of Hawkins and it seems equally positive that it was of Eckhardt and that he committed suicide.

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