EVERYONE LOVES A GOOD MYSTERY STORY AND THIS ONE TAKES PLACE IN NORTH HARTLAND …
BUT IS THIS A MURDER MYSTERY? IS THIS AN ACCIDENT? OR IS THIS A MYSTERY AT ALL?
From the WINDSOR JOURNAL 1902
An unknown man, fatally injured, was found, Thursday morning of last week, under the railroad bridge across the river near the station at this place. One knee was broken; the left side of his face was crushed, and there were wounds on his body. He died a few hours after he was found beneath the bridge. The deceased was about five feet eight and a half inches high; dark hair, complexion and moustache; age somewhere between 50 and 60 years. A memorandum book on his person had the name of Joe Kelley or Riley written in it, but the writing was almost illegible from water, and an address, Essex, Mass., was on one of the leaves. A few papers also were found in one of his pockets, which lead to the belief that he was canvassing for a book, “Leaders” or some such title. On the back of his left hand, between the thumb and first finger, a star enclosed in a circle is tatooed. The great toe on the left foot is wanting. It is thought the man must have sustained his injuries many hours if not at least a day or two before he was found. How he lived so long is the surprise of all. The cause of his injuries is but conjectures, as no one has been found to explain how he came, where found. Many believe there was foul play, as it does not seem possible that any one could have been knocked from the bridge by a train without the knowledge of the engineer or fireman. Nor is it probable that a man could have lain for hours, where the unfortunate on was found, without having been seen by someone to render assistance. “
Brief research shown that the Town of Hartland paid for a doctor and an undertaker. No proof has been found, yet, that the man was ever identified. There is no record of him being buried in Hartland so does that mean someone claimed the body? Did he have a family waiting somewhere for him to come home? Did they assume that he’d run away? Was he beaten somewhere else and brought to this site, easily accessible from the Connecticut River by boat?
If the man was identified then did someone know a reason for foul play and was the crime solved? Was he walking along the tracks between Windsor and White River Junction and got caught on the trestle when a train came along? Perhaps there is no mystery at all and the information is out there waiting for someone to research this and tell us the next chapter of the story.
Contact the Hartland Historical Society if you have any information on this so-called mystery.
(See also the article entitled ‘The Body Under the Bridge’)