Two anthropologists fly to the South Sea islands to study the natives. They go to two adjacent islands and set to work. A few months later one of them takes a canoe over to the other island to see how his colleague is doing. When he gets there, he finds the other anthropologist standing among a group of natives.
"Greetings! How is it going?" says the visiting anthropologist.
"Wonderful!" says the other, "I have discovered an important fact about the local language! Watch!"
He points at a palm tree and says, "What is that?"
The natives, in unison, say "Umbalo-gong!"
He then points at a rock and says, "and that?"
The natives again intone "Umbalo-gong!"
"You see!" says the beaming anthropologist, "They use the SAME word for 'rock' and for 'palm tree'!"
"That is truly amazing!" says the astonished visiting anthropologist, "On the other island, the same word means 'index finger'!"
To the best of my knowledge, this completely awesome joke was not used in the case against Carl Bach.
I suppose you never heard him, right? Well, until a few days ago, I hadn't either. But, boy 'o boy, he is the stuff of legend in Wood County, Ohio. ( That's just down road from Toledo.)
My travels this past week took me to Perrysburg, Ohio for a conference. These conferences involve field trips. We found ourselves at the Wood County Historical Museum.
To make a long story short, by 1881 (or so), Carl and his lovely wife Mary were not getting along. She asked for a divorce (quite the thing in the late 19th Century) but invited him to still sleep in the barn. Apparently, in a fit of rage, he murdered her and ultimately mutilated her body. The sheriff, according to legend, placed three of her severed fingers in a jar thinking they might be needed in the sure-to-come court proceedings.
Even though he confessed a short time later, mad-man Carl was not convicted until after two years had passed. On the last day of the Wood County Fair in 1883, he was sent up the ladder to bed, as they say. It was a big deal. The town even sent out invitations!
So what became of Mary's fingers? They became part of an exhibit at the Wood County Courthouse along with the murder weapon, the rope used to hang Carl, and the hood he wore to his "party". For decades, it was on public display for all to see. At some point (I'm not sure when), the County thought better of Mary's digits and thought it better to pass them along to the Museum for all to see.
And now, folks, for your viewing pleasure, Mary Bach's fingers....
Apparently, the jar at one point held some sort of fluid to preserve the flesh. Some suggest it was simply whiskey - a very strong possibility as I understand the stuff. Whatever it was, time has wicked the fluid and moisture from the jar. Modern-day morticians have examined the glassware and told the Museum to never open it. A fresh blast of 21st Century air would fragment the phalanges in no time.
What a story, huh? Follow along, now, boys and girls. Lunatic kills wife. Gets neck stretched. Travelers see fingers in a jar a century later. I can't make this stuff up! Only in Ohio.
I wonder what the South Sea Natives would say if they saw the jar?