Unsolved Mystery: The Skeleton of Mocanaqua

The old Mocanaqua breaker


In 1884, the bleached bones of a skeleton wearing the tattered remnants of an army uniform was found beneath the outcropping of rocks above present-day Lee Road.  The skeleton has never been identified.  Could it have been the skeleton of a deserter from the Union army?  Or perhaps a cave-dwelling hermit who had once fought in the Civil War?  Unfortunately, it seems to be a mystery that will remain unsolved until the end of time.  Here's the newspaper article about the skeleton, as it appeared in the August 8, 1884, edition of the Bloomsburg Columbian:

A man named Michael Boylan, a resident of Teasdale City, was looking for young foxes Sunday afternoon at the foot of the high rocks along the road leading from Shickshinny to Wanamie.  Under an overhanging crag, in sight of the road, he came upon the bleached skeleton of a man.  Mr. Boylan made known his discovery and quite a crowd collected.  Mr. F.D. Yaple, who was returning from Nanticoke about this time, saw the bones, secured a knife, bunch of keys and a briar pipe and brought them to town.  On Monday it became known that the skeleton had been found and many conjectures and wild stories were set afloat as to who was the owner of the abandoned bones.  In company with M.E. Walker, H.S. Clark and C.F. Stackhouse, an Echo representative, visited the spot to investigate.

The place is about two miles back upon the mountain from the Mocanaqua breaker.  When first found the bones were in their regular order with the shoes upon the feet, face upward.  The only portion of the clothing recognizable was a piece of soldier overcoat.  The large and small army buttons were confirming evidence that he wore a coat of that kind.  Several large buttons, such as are worn on drawers, and a small undershirt button were found among the decayed clothing.  The leather facings for a pair of mittens went further to confirm the belief that whoever the man may be his body was clad for winter weather at the time of his death.


Among other effects found were a razor and strop, shaving mug, satchel frame securely locked, and two bottles, one a pocket flask and the other a two-ounce vial such as laudanum is usually sold in.  The man must have been 6 feet tall, with a low, receding forehead.  His right leg had been broken at one time at the thigh.  How long the bones had lain exposed is not known.  Their bleached condition would indicate several years.  It is remarkable that they were not found before from their close proximity to the road
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