Thursday, August 11, 2011


Welcome to EverythingCroton, a collection of all things Croton--our history, our homes, our issues, our businesses, our schools--in short EVERYTHING CROTON.

Sisters Joyce Finnerty (the late village historian) and Elise Sasso had a deep abiding love of Croton's history. Their articles on the village have truly stood the test of time. Here’s the conclusion of Elise Sasso’s "THE MYSTERY OF THE LARKIN PLACE SKELETON”.  Read Part One here: 

The Mystery of the Larkin Place Skeleton – Part Two - CONCLUSION – ELISE SASSO

The Search for the Bones: We always heard that Ossining Historical Society has a skull so we went there to see for ourselves. We found a letter to Mrs. Laurence D. Redway, Ossining, NY from the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation dated January 8, 1940 cites the following:

Site of find: Harmon – Provenience: The former Algonquin - Iroquoian domain Specimen: Skull and greater number of the skeletal parts.
Sex: Uncertain – Age: Approximately 45-50 _ Tentative: “probably Indian,” Female Characteristics: 5 points, Male Characteristics: 5 points.

Ossining Historical Society’s skull was examined by Dr. Lesbia Jacob she determined it was not the Larkin Place skull. This was a “dead end”, no pun intended!

There isn’t a mention of the Larkin Place Skeleton that we could find, until the following newspaper clippings and report: 1987 – Citizen Register story – Indians may help identify bones believed to be 17th century chief: by, Carol A. Hanes. Tarrytown man who wants to rebury a 300-year-old skeleton, that some say is Chief Mamaroneck, has found Members of the Mahican Nation who might help him. 

Nicholas Robinson chairman of the Tarrytown Historical Society says ownership will be hard to prove in the case of Mamaroneck or “Limping Will” as the skeleton was called by Case.” We’re dealing with facts that were built up into a house of cards. Case did a lot of intelligent guesswork,” Robinson said of the argument Case made in the article in 1935. We have not even documented that the bones we have are Indian or what period they are from.  

1988 - We have a copy of a letter to the Metropolitan Forensic Anthropology Team Of Lehman College. The letter asks that the skeletal bones discovered some sixty years ago, which Dr. Case believed, were Indian bones and which were entrusted to the Tarrytown Historical Society be examined and returned to the Society upon completion of the examination.  

1989 – The Daily News April 2nd, “No bones about it. - Remains those of Indian Woman, not Chief Mamaroneck” by: Ruth Mayer. Skeletal remains long thought to be the bones of Chief Mamaroneck are actually the bones of an American Indian woman. “The proof that they are not the chief is that the bones are female, said Spencer J. Turkel, a forensic anthropologist and associate director of the Metropolitan Forensic Anthropology Team at Lehman College.” This article is only partly right.

March 26, 1989, New York Times, by: Amy Hill Hearth. “What the Forensic Team Found” While the remains appeared to be those of one person, it turned out that they were co-mingled remains of two people. Both were American Indians – one male one female – who died of “natural causes” as fully mature adults, most likely from the ages of 30 – 50. They have been dead for at least a century and probably far longer. Based on available information and materials, the Chief Mamaroneck theory was ruled out for several reasons, said Dr. James Taylor. The lesion on the shin “probably would not have caused a limp.” he said, and that that particular bone belonged to the female. The Chief was reportedly was six feet tall, while the remains are of a man considerable shorter.

The End? Not so fast, the Tarrytown Historical Society does not have the skeletal remains anymore and we have not been able to track them any further. What about the cracked skull? The photograph we have shows a complete skeleton lying in the shallow grave. Did the remains get reburied or are they still in some laboratory? I have requested the report from Metropolitan Forensic Team at Lehman College. I received an e-mail that said they are trying to get in touch with Dr. Taylor. Stay tuned.

E.A. Sasso

EDITOR’S NOTE: Elise continued to seek information right up to her death a few years ago. Unfortunately, there was nothing additional to be found.


    But another one of those unsolved Croton mysteries!

  2. Elise also did a Croton history timeline I believe. Any chance we can see that again?