Talk: Indiana Mystery-Caleb Blood Smith Wiki

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John Walker/Cynthia Long

Copyright 2009

 Link to Caleb Blood Smith on (scroll down to "Search for body". I wrote that section, and also contributed to the external links section).The first link is the one with "Search for body" for Smith.

☀Patton, Lauren

Hi Cynthia,

I took on your request for records with information about Caleb Blood Smith’s body. I regret to inform you that I have no new information for you. I read all of the completed research at my disposal (most of which I believe was yours!). I searched for papers of Elizabeth B. Watton Smith and all other relevant family members, Crown Hill Cemetery records and the volume we had of Greenlawn Cemetery records, Fayette County cemeteries and other Connersville histories, and Kate Heron’s papers. Kate Heron’s papers appeared to be unrelated research and a few pieces of correspondence regarding Caleb B. Smith written while she was ill, presumably at the end of her life, and again echoed completed research rather than providing new information. I was unable to find any manuscripts from Anna Nichols in the library. I’m sorry this couldn’t be more exciting of an e-mail! I can assure you that myself and others were quite taken by the mystery and would look forward to any new information on his final resting place.

Let me know if you have any further questions!

Thank you,

Lauren Patton

Rare Books & Manuscripts Librarian

Indiana State Library

315 West Ohio St.

Indianapolis, IN 46202

(317) 234-8627

*During the excavation to locate Caleb Blood Smith's body, the body uncovered was William Watton, there is a picture of me in a blue winter coat holding the silver name plate that was on William Wattons' casket. William Watton was the brother-in-law of Caleb Blood Smith, and sister of Elizabeth who was Smith's wife. I am trying to locate that picture and it will be posted on here as soon as it's is found. 

On Sunday, July 26, 1977, the Indianapolis Star of Indianapolis, Indiana treated its readers to a delightful story about the city of the dead. (1)  An in-depth story about beautiful Crown Hill Cemetery and short sketches about many of its permanent inhabitants.  From James’s. Riley, the Hoosier poet, whose poems have delighted the  young in heard around the glove for over seventy-five years, whose remains rest in the most treasured spot of all— -the crown of the hill. To the infamous bank robber who terrorized Indiana and the entire Mid-West with his bank hold ups and his ingenious jail escapes, John Dillinger, whose bullet riddle body was deposited in1934 on the opposite end of the cemetery.

Between those two extremes the4 great and the near great wee called forth. It seems that the guide who directed the writer of the article, Philip J. Troustine, (2) was more than well acquainted with the permanent residents of Crown Hill Cemetery.

There was Benjamin Harrison, twenty- third president of the United States, who had come by the way of Ohio to find his final resting place on Hoosier soil. Then a vice president steps forward who served with Teddy Roosevelt-Charles Warren Fairbanks and other vice presidents and Vice Presidents   Thomas Andrew Hendricks, who served with Grover Cleveland, and Thomas Riley Marshall, vice president in Woodrow Wilson’s Administration. Both of these men were also Governors of Indiana. Next was called the most famous of them all, the Civil War Governor, Oliver Perry Morton, who takes his long sleep among the young men he sent other President Lincoln preserve the Union.

The names of the distinguished pointed out to the author of the story of The City of the Dead seems almost endless. There were famous medical doctors, preachers, publishers, civic leaders of every dimension, bankers, the Lilly’s of pharmaceutical fame, inventors, writers, diplomats, politicians, congressional representatives, senators, and members of Presidents Cabinets.

However, there is one story that was overlook—whether intentionally because it might prove embarrassing to Crown Hill or because details are not now known and may never be, we are not told.

In 1926, the trustees of Crown Hill Cemetery (a non-profit organization) employed, Miss Anna Nichols (3) to write the story of Crown Hill (4) She wrote beautifully of the early days of Crown Hill in 1864, and then she calls the roll of the honored dead much as Mr. Troustine did in 1977 with this one exception. She describes a mausoleum on the brow of a small knoll (just such a spot as a Past Grand Master of (Free) Masons who would have chosen as a place for his long home).

Moreover, if the passerby was asked who was buried there the answer would be, if they know anything of Indiana history, “Caleb Blood Smith, Indian’s first cabinet member—a member of President Lincoln’s cabinet.” Miss Nichols then describes Caleb B. Smith’s career and his death and burial. Then she implies that there is a strange chapter connected with this story. She says that the Crown Hill authorities say the remains of Caleb Smith is not in the tomb and probably never was.

Then she calls “a weird mystery.” The mystery of the disappearance of the remains of Caleb B. Smith from the mausoleum bearing his name first came to light according to the late Miss Katherine Heron, (5) local historian, and though not on the staff, a  frequent contributor to a local newspaper. (6) At the State Library, she learned that in 1917 or1918, Mr. Landees, who was Superintendent of Crown Hill, investigated, and found the body was removed to Connersville, Indiana. (7) There is a contradiction here between the accounts given by Miss Anna Nichols and that of Miss Kate Heron. From Miss Nichols’ version, “The knowledge of the Crown  Hill Superintendent and other attaches  is summed up thus: A son of Superintendent Chislett, (8) Superintendent of the cemetery, then a young boy, remembers, “a stormy time” over the removal of the  body to Connersville, Indiana and thought Mrs. Smith did not want it known where it was buried.”  

In this same article written by Miss Heron “about nine years ago (1921) I received a letter from a representative of the Government at Washington asking “can you tell me where Caleb B. Smith is buried”? I read the letter to Mother, she instantly replied, “In a mausoleum in the old cemetery at Indianapolis, your father attended the funeral.” Miss Heron says shortly after receiving the Government letter, she received a letter from are representative of Crown Hill, Indianapolis, also a letter from the late Miss Anna Nichols who was then at the request of the trustees of Crown Hill, compiling a history of Crown Hill, each letter asked the same question.

The Smith mausoleum in the old cemetery was opened and found vacant and no one knows at this writing where this great man of local, state, and national honor is buried.

“After mother told me all she remembered of Mr. Smith and his burial, “ continues Miss Heron, “I began investigating for information on the subject I found on a gray sandstone mausoleum that would not attract attention, was the name Caleb B. Smith and the date 1864.” ) (Miss Heron refers to the old cemetery, but instead of being old Greenlawn on Kentucky Avenue, she must have visited the older part of Crown Hill as the remains of those buried at Greenlawn had been removed to Crown Hill and elsewhere over fifty-years before her investigation.) Miss Heron’s mother did not attend the funeral of Caleb Smith and her reference to a mausoleum must have been the vault in which his remains were placed.

Miss Anna Nichols had a theory, but it contains too many weak points to even be considered. One was that a tomb was built partly in a hillside and that Mrs. Caleb B. Smith had her husband’s vault brought there and place in the tomb, but when the management found out about this, the tomb had to be abandoned, as the claim was that it was insanitary (sic), she was forced to take the body back to Greenlawn for a temporary reburial. Greenlawn was being moved at this time and it was not closely guarded. If the gravesite was not marked because of the soon removal back to Crown Hill when the Smith mausoleum was completed, or if it was marked, boys racing back and forth across the cemetery could have easily knocked the marker away. So when the time came to take the body back to Crown Hill, the location could not be positively determined. This became a tragic secret with the Smith family.

The  first objection to this theory is that the lot Mrs. Smith bought  in Crown  Hill is on the crest of a small knoll and there was no place to dig part  of a tomb in a hillside (note photo of mausoleum in my book) and she certainly would not have bought another lot for a temporary burial either at Crown Hill or at Greenlawn. The date 1864 would most likely allude to the building  of the mausoleum as there is no date showing his birthdate. If the remains of Caleb Smith was movedfromGreenlawn toCrown hill, it was done after the now existing mausoleum was completed—(or before it was begun)* It does not seem logical that a protest was made about a body being taken from Greenlawn.,as Miss Heron suggests about the caretaker’s son of Greenlawn because at that time Greenlawn was being abandoned, and the caretaker probably would not have cared how many bodies were removed. There were many unmarked Confederate graves as well as some Union soldiers whose identity had been lost.

When the news of the death of Caleb Smith was telegraphed to President Lincoln Jan 7, 1864, he at once ordered the flags flown at half-mast on all Federal buildings in Washington D.C. and in Caleb Smith’s hometown. The following is an article from the Indianapolis daily journal.

Funeral of Judge Caleb B. Smith

Daily Journal, Wednesday morning,

Jan 13, 1864-page 3, col. 2

The funeral of Judge Smith took place from his residence yesterday at two o’clock. It was largely attended by many friends of the family, together with the Masonic fraternity, of which the judge was an honored member, many members of the bar, the Governor and staff, and the State officers, civil and military.

The funeral discourse was preached by Rev. R.C. Holliday, of the M.E. Church, from words of Scripture found in the second book of Samuel, fourth chapter and fourteenth verse. ** The sermon presented very clearly the relations of life and death. He said of the deceased that he was intellectually a Christian, an amiable, high-minded, warm-hearted man, one who loved truth and right; ever in the discharge of duty, ever ready to assist and sympathize with those needing aid. He belonged to us all, and while the responsibilities of office and the great interests of the country were crowding around him as one whose clear intellect and ripe experience and attainments were well calculated to administer and protect, his loss was one deeply felt. Many facts in relation to more brilliant career. His history is the history of the times.

The funeral processions were an imposing one, and evidence the high regard in which the deceased was held. First was the  Masonic fraternity, preceded by the National Guards Band; then the carriages, with ministers, next the hearse, drawn by four black horses, accompanied by eight pall bearers, next the family carriages, and then members of the bar, the Governor and his  staff, and State  officers, followed by a large number of other carriages, with friends and neighbors.  The procession moved east on New York street to Illinois, south to Washington, and thence on  Kentucky avenue to the City Cemetery where the Masonic Service was performed by Grand Master Hacker of Shelbyville. The remains were deposited in a vault. A prayer was offered by Rev. J.V.R. Miller, and the benediction pronounced by Rev. Mr. Holliday.

So Caleb Blood Smith’s remains were placed in a vault in the city cemetery (Greenlawn). On June 1, 1864, Crown Hill Cemetery was dedicated. At the first auction of grave lots in Crown Hill Cemetery, June 8, 1864, Mrs. Caleb Smith paid $500 for a burial plot and had a mausoleum built of grey sandstone with what Miss Nichols describes as a “quaint structure with an Egyptian suggestiveness.” It does not seem a fitting  structure for the final resting place  for a sign of Past Grand Master of Masons who had gone to his long home *** with no sign of a Masonic Jewel on or about it.

Masonry and Caleb B. Smith

The Grand Lodge of Indiana met at Indianapolis December 11, 1837 in Mason’s Hall, James L. Hogin, Grand Master. On December 13, Caleb B. Smith (of Connersville) was elected Grand Master and on December 14, 1837 “Brother Caleb B. Smith was duly installed  the Most  Worshipful Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana, for the ensuing twelve months.” --- Proceedings  of the Grand Lodge … of Indiana, 1817-1845 p. 315. Caleb B. Smith signs the proceedings for that date. The proceedings for 1838 show, however, that Warren Lodge #15 (also known as, (aka) Elmhurst, and the former Caleb Smith home) was represented by Philip Mason, and that he’s acted as “G Master, pro tem.” Caleb B. Smith’s  name  appears in the proceedings 1833, 1834, 1835, 1836,1837,1839,1840,1841,1845.At the 1835 meeting, “On motion, Brothers Smith, Kelso, Whitman, and Walker were  appointed a committee with instructions to inquire into the  expediency of this Grand Lodge surrendering it’s Charter. And if such surrender should be deemed advisable, to report such resolutions as may dispose of the property of the Grand Lodge and that of the subordinate Lodges, as may seem just and expedient.” Two days  later “Brother Smith, from the committee appointed to inquire into the expediency  of this Grand Lodge surrendering it’s Charter, made a  report, which was read unanimously concurred in. (Brother Smith’s report was sent out to  be  printed and handed to  Brother Mason) McDonald, in his “A history of  Freemasonry in Indiana from 1806 to 1898,” p. 349 says, “Brother Smith was made a Mason in Warren Lodge at Connersville by Philip Mason, Past Grand Master being initiated April 18, passed April 24 and raised April 29, 1829. He was elected and  installed as Master of the Lodge  September 8,1832, and finally reached the Grand Master’s chair in 1837. In 1852, he removed to Cincinnati, demitting from his lodge to join a lodge in that city. (This was the end of his Masonic career.”) Sic

On page 29 of the Proceedings of 1864, the Annual Address of Most Worshipful Grand Master William Hacker contained the following reference to Mr. Smith.

“Death of a Past Grand Master Caleb B. Smith:  (9)

It becomes my painful duty to announce the death of Past Grand Master Caleb B. Smith, which occurred, very suddenly, on the7th day of January last, while engages in holding court in this city, as Judge of the District Court of the United States.

Brother Smith was elected and served as the sixteenth Grand Master of this Grand lodge, during the darkest hour perhaps the Craft in this State ever witnessed.

His name first appears among our records at the session of the Grand Lodge in 1834, at which time he served as the Grand Junior warden, and was, before the close of the Grand Lodge, elected and installed Deputy Grand Master. In 1835, he was in his place as Deputy Grand Master.  In 1836, he represented Warren Lodge, #15, and served during the session as Treasurer of the Grand Lodge. In 1837, he again represented his Lodge, and was elected Grand Master.  From this until the session in 1845, he was uniformly present, and shared a large portion of the labors of the Grand Lodge.

I have said that this was perhaps the darkest hour the Craft in Indiana has ever witnesses. In 1834, when he first entered the Grand Lodge, although our Subordinate Lodges at that time numbered 36, we find but four chartered Lodges and one under dispensation represented. So fearfully had the Anti-Masonic persecution prevailed, that men of the stoutest hearts quailed, and but few were found bold enough to come forward and resolutely contend for the truth. Among that honored few, none came forward more promptly, or combated more fearlessly with the error that then running  rampant over our fair land, withering and blighting all within reach of its fearful ravages, then did our honored and much lamented Brother Smith.

But happily for us as an institution, in those dark days, under the providential care of God (As I can attribute to nothings less). There were found upon the floor of our Grand Lodge, such men as Stout, Tipton, Pepper, Parker, Martin, Hogan, Smith, and Morris, who have now passed away, and Sheets, Mason, Carter, Mendenhall, Schmidlapp, Fisher, and a few others who are still active among us--- men of fixed purposes and stern integrity, who like the little Spartan bank when the fearful assault came, throw themselves into the breach, resolving to conquer or die. And now, we their sons and successors, should delight to honor those faithful few, even for the truths’ sake.

Some who now hear  me will remember how, at the session of the Grand  Lodge in 1845,when the Grand Lodge, with a good degree of courage for that day, in order to show to community that. If Masonry in Indiana was dead, it had not yet been buried out of sight, proposed to have a public installation of the Grand Officers, and the orator who had been provided for the occasion not coming up on time our now lamented Brother Smith, with but a few moments ’ notice, came promptly to the rescue, saved the honor of the Grand Lodge, and before an unusual concourse of citizens and Craftsmen, delivered one of the most able, unanswerable, and thrilling defenses of Masonry that perhaps has ever fallen from the lips of man. I have sometimes thoughts that his effort on that occasion was something like the angel’s trump, calling the dead to arise. It most certainly had that effect upon the dormant energies of Masonry in this State; for, upon the examination of our records and proceedings, we find that from this very time our Lodges, which had lain dormant for so long a time, begun to manifest signs of life, revived and went to work again. New Lodges were formed, the car of the Masonry commenced to move forward once more, until it has now reached such accelerated velocity in it’s on ward movements that many among us are becoming alarmed, fearing that at the rate  at  which we  are now  advancing, we shall soon be dashed to pieces at the other extremity.

Although our deceased Brother, for many of the past years, was largely engages in public business, in the halls of our Legislature, in congress, in the cabinet, and on the bench, he always found time to give to Masonry a good share of his time and labors.

I have already said in a former part of my address, that on the 24th  of June last, I  gave him my proxy to lay the corner-stone of the new temple built by our Brethren at Muncie, Delaware county, and our honorable the Grand Master was represented on that occasion.

Although Brother Smith was at that time holding his court, yet he claimed that June 24 was his Masonic Sabbath, and he could hold no court on that day, but must give it to the interests of Masonry. He accordingly adjourned this court, performed the duties of Masonry required of him, making as I am informed, another of his most brilliant decencies of our time-honored institution and its ceremonies.

Nevertheless, he has not left us, suddenly cut down in the midst of his usefulness, and we are left to mourn his sudden departure. None may ever hope to attain a higher degree of honor, or be more useful to this day and generation than Caleb B. Smith.

I have not the data at my command to give a more particular sketch of his Masonic life and character. I hope, however, that this will be done, and his virtues places upon record, an example to others worthy of imitation. ****


The most readable story about the mystery of the burial place of Caleb B. Smith was written by Bayard Baker of Carthage, Indiana. It is the only story found that addresses itself totally to the mystery itself. All the other stories written are part of a larger story as the Anna Nichols story of Crown Hill. Or it is sometimes referred to in a footnote, as  in Louis Baileys articles in Indiana History Magazine. (11)

Mr. Baker likens the mystery to that of Moses who was buried by God in an unknown grave on Mt. Nebos lonely height. He called his story, Saga of a Lost Grand Master. He talks about a midnight burial—padded footfalls, ghouls, and secret pledges. However, he said there was no documentary proof. It was said that the removal of the body by Mrs. Smith to Connersville, Indiana was due to a “useless phobia.”

There is a story that has made it’s rounds in Connersville, for nearly 100 years, written by an unknown hand calledTHE CURSE OF ELMHURST, which was used in the Saga of the Lost Grand Master, in this story Samuel Parker acting as a judge refused a negro a bible to be  sworn upon—offering him a law book instead with the comment that it was as good book to be  sworn in on as any bible. Whereas the Negro angrily pronounced a curse on all who were present in the courtroom that day.

Bad luck did seem to haunt all who were in court that day. Samuel Parker died suddenly. His wife went insane. James Johnston, another lawyer saw two of his sons commit suicide. Caleb Smith too was in court that day. Mr. Baker says, “It is pure fancy to think of Caleb Smith being a victim of what could well be an absurd myth. Nevertheless, that it does make a striking bedtime story to Connersville residents.   

The eulogy delivered at Caleb Smith’s funeral and the address given before the Grand Lodge of Masons in1864 by Grand Master Hacker announcing the death of Past Grand Master, Caleb B. Smith, dispels any doubts about this great man’s character. One of the most beautiful eulogies given at the death of Henry Clay was delivered by Samuel Parker, Whig of Connersville, Indiana, on the floor of the House of Representatives on June 30, 1852 one day following the death of Henry Clay. The following is but one paragraph from that memorable speech. (12)

“Yesterday morning, at eleven o’clock, the spirit of Henry Clay—so long the pride and glory of his own country and the admiration of the entire world was yet with us, through struggling to be free. Ere’ high noon’ came, it had passed over ‘the dark river,’ through the gate into the celestial city, inhabited by the entire just made perfect.”

The facts concerning the faith of these two men should lie to sleep forever the absurd myth of “The Curse of Elmhurst.” The quest to determine if the remains of Caleb B. Smith were secretly buried in the Connersville, City Cemetery beside the grave of his 18-month son in an unmarked grave at a midnight hour has proven to be almost an obsession to the few who have worked on the project.

In a conversation in the early winter of 1976 with Fayette County’s 33rd degree Mason, Porter Gorton, I raised the subject of the mystery of the burial site of Caleb Smith. I was aware that Mr. Gorton was closely associated with the Scottish Rite at Indianapolis. (13)  I asked him if he would contact Wayne Guthrie, who is the editor of the Scottish rite publication and an officer in the Indiana Grand Lodge of Masons, and a retired editor of the Indianapolis News, to see if he had any knowledge of the burial place of Caleb Smith. Mr. Gorton attended a meeting with Mr. Guthrie (14) the following week and returned with the information, “Caleb Smith definitely was not buried in Indianapolis.”

The subject of the mystery of Caleb Smith’s final resting place had been discussed with Leonard Urban, owner of the Thomas Brown-Urban Funeral Home, who displayed a great interest in the project of trying to solve the mystery. We decided to probe the site in the old city cemetery stated that this famous man was believed to be buried in an unmarked grave beside his 18-month old son.

In the meantime, Porter Gorton was shown the signed statement by the late Charles Reiman. (15)

April 2, 1936

When I became custodian of the city cemetery, Connersville, Indiana 1930, it was my understanding that Caleb B. Smith was buried there in the Watton and Smith lot. He had been buried originally in Green lawn cemetery, Indianapolis, and Mrs. Smith had bought a lot and built a mausoleum in Crown Hill Cemetery apparently intending to move the body there, or possibly, wishing to make it appear that she was doing so, instead she brought the body  to Connersville and had it  interred, by night, in the city cemetery.

I am inclined to think that the grave lies directly north of that of “Albert Downes, son of Caleb and Elizabeth B. Smith, “ There is however other ground on the lot which might contain this grave.

In the years since, there have  twice been members of the Watton family here to visit the family lot in the cemetery, and they have told me that the above was their understanding also, and that Mrs. Smith had wished for some reason the location of the grave kept a secret. (Mrs. Smith’s father William Watton is buried on this lot)

I cannot state as an absolute fact that Caleb B. Smiths body is interred here, but such has always been my impression. Excavation on this lot might prove the fact definitely.

I consider it unlikely that the burial was in the Samuel Parker family plot at Elmhurst; a theory held by the late Miss Kate Heron. 

Charlie Rieman

This statement in turn was shown to the Grand Master of Mason, Rollin K. Smith, who was also very interested. Mr. Gorton promised to inform him (Rollin Smith) of the findings of the probe when this writer got the probe completed. (The Grand lodge has installed suitable historic markers at the gravesites of all Past Grand Masters)

The Probe

At 9:00 am Saturday morning May 7, 1977, a small group of men met at Urban’s funeral home prior to going to the old City cemetery. Frank Gilbert, retired Superintendent of Dale Cemetery, who had been asked by Mr. Porter Gorton to do the probing --- Porter Gorton, Leonard Urban, and the compiler of this article, Johnny Walker (my grandfather). At the cemetery we were met by Dale Strong, City Councilman (representing the city), who had been called early in the morning and informed of this even that was to take place as he too had shown much interest in this project and had visited the gravesite with the writer some months earlier.

This could be an important event relating to the Lincoln administration. Had the war dissenters (The Sons of Liberty). Who had hounded and threatened Governor Morton, the loyal supporter of the Union cause in the civil war and President Lincoln prompted her to steal his body from the Indianapolis Cemetery and have it secretly buried at night beside his son. Many historians of Connersville, including the late Lowell Smith, author of The History of Elmhurst believed that Mrs. Caleb Smith feared “The Sons of Liberty” and feared they would destroy the body of her husband  if it could be found. He also stated in his story of Elmhurst that the vault indeed of Caleb Smiths bother in law, Honorable Samuel Parker, twice a member of Congress and President of the White Water Canal, who is buried on a hill behind Elmhurst was broken into in the search by “The Sons of Liberty” for the body of Caleb Smith. Perhaps these events cannot be documented, but it does show the deep feeling that ran both ways in Fayette County, Indiana during and shortly after the Civil War. Mr. Lowell Smith, who always proved to be an accurate historian, said he believed that President Lincoln sent Caleb Smith back to Indianapolis for the express purpose of riding heard on “The Sons of Liberty”, who was giving the Union so much trouble in Indiana.

We would soon shout, “Eureka, we have found it, “or would this be another “dead end”?

Frank Gilbert, P.M, of Warren Lodge # 15, Connersville, Indiana began to probe. At first he hit a few gravels and rocks, then suddenly when his 6-foot prober reached the depth of the about 4-feet he struck something solid with a hollow sound. Then he began other probes to determine if it was an adult vault---after probes 6’x 3’ and striking the same obstruction as the same depth, Frank Gilbert exclaimed, “Boys, this is  it:”

Frank then proceed to probe other graves of about the same age but the probe without and obstruction would easily sing to its full length, indicating that all the other deceased of that period had been buried in wooden caskets which had long since deteriorated.

It was then decided that Porter Gorton would call the Grand Master and report the findings. Dale Strong would stop at Urban’s  and pick up a book that contained the law concerning the  removing of the earth to inspect the vault for a name plate, Masonic Emblem or other identification on  the outside of the vault.

Nevertheless, if Mrs. Smith had the body removed from Indianapolis and buried in Connersville secretly at night without a headstone because of fear of War dissenters, wouldn’t she have had any signs of his presence removed from the vault?  Document below- (not complete document)

When the compiler of this article, my grandfather, John Walker arrived, a tent had been sat up over the gravesite—the sod had been carefully removed in sections and the earth had been removed to a depth of four feet by pick and shovel. When the writer asked about the vault, the writer was shown some flat rocks of various sizes that had been unearthed. These rocks proved to be the  vault we had struck when probing the site months earlier--- Leonard Urban who had his employees doing the work told them to keep digging to a  depth of six feet as he wanted to settle this question once and for all. (The many flat rocks found added to the evidence that the Old City Cemetery was at some day ages ago a river bottom)

By this time the visitors had arrived and most of them took refuge from the 25 degree temperature inside the temperature where Porter Gorton had set up a space heater.

The feeling of Gloom and disappointment added to the embarrassment felt by having these distinguished visitors who had come afar only to peer into an ever-deepening empty hole in the ground prevailed. However, one onlooker displayed a different view altogether. This is her story—she consented to have the unmarked grave examined because she said as a young  child she recalled her mother telling her  to disregard the stories about Caleb B. Smith being buried in the city cemetery because she knew definitely that he  was not. She went on to say she thought her mother had told her where Caleb Smith was buried, but being only a child she thought it  of little importance. Norvilla Thomas Copes said she was under the impression that he had been buried at Elmhurst.

Kate Heron, the local historian who died around 1936, also leaned toward this view. P.G. M., Charles Brown was overheard to say, “Although his (Caleb B. Smith’s) remains were not found, you have cleared a question mark that has been in several minds for many years as to just who was buried in the grave just excavated. “

Since the statement by Mr. Rieman contained the fact that there was other locations on the Watton lot where the missing grave could be, Mr. Urban ordered further probing to be done. In a very short time on another unmarked grave what appeared to be the top of a vault was found. This one was probed more extensively—about every 12 inches at the depth of 4 feet something solid was struck down both sides—both ends and down the middle—everyone agreed it must be a grave—but the hour was growing late and that was a lot of dirt to be moved by hand. Leonard Urban and Porter Gorton decided to have the earth removed down to the top of the vault. The backhoe arrived in a short time and the expert operator carefully scooped out the dirt down to the top of the vault. Then Leonard Urban himself carefully removed the remaining loose dirt with a shovel. The top of the vault had a crack across the middle indicating that it might have been made in sections. Leonard Urban asked the operator of the backhoe to place his scoop under the west end of the slab, lift it up on its end and hold it there until he could block it so it would not fall. This done, Leonard Urban lowered himself into the grave. This was an old oak casket and proved to be in a very good state of preservation---shortly Leonard asked, “Did Caleb Smith have a beard?” He was told that all pictures of Caleb Smith showed him to be clean-shaven. “This man was a “Brother Mason”, Leonard exclaimed, a name plate was found on the old casket – greatly corroded but readable. “Wm. Watton, Jr” A brother in law of Caleb B. Smith. One of the older Past Grand Masters who had been peering intently into the opened grave was overheard to exclaim softly, “The remains of our Past Grand Master Caleb B. Smith cannot be found within the confines of this cemetery. This chapter is closed.” Perhaps Norvilla Copes had the last word, “Wouldn’t Mama be happy today!”

Porter Gorton says that the other probes and excavations might be made at the old Parker cemetery on a hill behind Elmhurst Mansion (Where it is related in the History of Elmhurst.  That was his choice for his final resting place.” However, the ravages of time had vandals who have roamed these woods will make a difficult under taking. Porter Gorton also relates that on a visit with Nancy Hurley, she told him the story about playing at Elmhurst as a child and she was admonished never to go into a certain room in the cavernous basement as a man had been buried there. This Porter hopes to investigate.

Following is a letter from Senator Harry S. New. Of Indiana:

Harry S. New

 Edgemoor Lane

Bethesda, Maryland

May 11, 1936

Dr. Christopher B. Coleman, Sec,

Indiana Historical Society

Indianapolis, Indiana

I have this day received your letter of May 9 with enclosure from Charles A.Reiman with reference to the probable burial place of Caleb B. Smith. When I was in active search of information on this subject, I wrote to Mr. Reiman, but never received so much as an acknowledgement of receipt of my inquiry.

I think that the probability is that Mr. Smith’s remains are buried in the Watton lot, but I would not personally dislike having them disinterred without the approval of the surviving relatives, if any. I certainly do not want to lead any such enterprise. As to my contributing towards having the project completed, I do not want to be regarded as stingy or to have my motives misconstrued, but it seems to me that if the work is to be undertaken at all it should be either by relatives or someone having a direct personal interest in the whereabouts of the body.

I have written an article concerning this mystery, which will some day and in some yet undetermined form be published. It very closely follows the general lines of Mr. L.J. Bailey’s article but goes considerably further.

I have written a number of stories bearing upon Indiana’s men of prominence and incidents political and otherwise but I do not know to this day, what I shall finally do with them. Some day, when I am at home. I may call on you to reference to them.  

Very Sincerely Yours,

(Signed) Harry S. New

Senator New had written Charles Reiman and seemed quite disturbed because he did not receive an answer. This was in 1936. But Mr. Reiman gave his statement to the local library, which was sent to the State library, and finally on to Senator New.

Senator Harry New seemed concerned about the loss of the burial site of Caleb Smith. He wrote several letters to the state library showing great concern. When it was suggested that he pay for the excavation of the grave, he quickly backed away and corresponded no more. (16) At that time the cost would have been minimal, only about 20 dollars. Nevertheless, perhaps he was concerned about possible legal entanglements because without signed statements from the living descendants of the deceased giving their permission for excavating the site, a very serious charge could be made.

It was not until Charlie Reiman was questioned about this matter that Connersville remembered her famous citizen of long ago. As has been stated, there are now signs that Caleb Smiths likeness painted on them on the East and West sides of the old city cemetery in Connersville.

Two Reiman daughters, who still live in the same house across the street from the city cemetery, say the signs were placed there after their father became custodian, but they cannot remember the exact date. They are both still very active in business, Reimans Flower Shop, across the sreet from the cemetery. One of the sisters is a trustee of Indiana University. These signs are wooden and of course they have been replaced several times.

Barrows History of Fayette County, written by Dr. Ernest V. Shockley of the History faculty of Indiana University he states the following excerpt on page 585:

Caleb B. Smith, a resident of Connersville, from 1827 to 1851, a member of  congress for three terms and secretary of the Interior under Lincoln, was one of the most distinguished men Indiana has ever produced. He served his state in the Legislature and the nation in Congress and as a member of President Lincolns Civil War Cabinet. At the opening of the Civil War an enumeration of a dozen of the nation’s greatest men would have found the name of Caleb B. Smith one of the number.

The minutes of Warren Lodge #15 F & A.M. make no mention of Caleb Smith after he left Connersville for Cincinnati in 1852, though he was Master of Warren Lodge in 1829 and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Indiana in 1837. No mention was made of him being neither in Abraham Lincolns Cabinet nor of his death and burial. It seems strange since the man who made him a Mason, a Past Master, or Warren Lodge, and who served several times as a Grand Master of Indiana.

Dr.Philip Mason, a close friend of Caleb Smiths. Several of Dr, Mason’s speeches is reported in full, but there is never a mention about their former member who had become famous.

In a copy of Elm Twigs, the school yearly published by the Elmhurst school for young women (17) since it had occupied the former home of Caleb Smith contains the following item contributed by the first national bank of Connersville.

Elmhurst School

            Occupies a historical building. The main part dates from1831. Oliver H. Smith built this part. Samuel W. Parker, also, in Congress lived here. James N. Huston, U.S. Treasurer added the wings. President and Mrs. Benjamin Harrison frequently visited the mansion. It became Elmhurst school in 1909.

Again no mention of Caleb Smith. The story of Crown Hill, Anna Nichols states that some people thought Caleb Smith was buried in Connersville, but no one in Connersville seemed to think so.

After reading all the stories connected with this so called “Weird Mystery” it is this writers belief that Caleb Smith is buried near his wife Elizabeth Watton Smith. This is only a theory and cannot be proved or disproved. Mrs. Smith made all the plans for the final resting place of her husband. Caleb Smith was buried in a vault in old Greenlawn Cemetery Jan 7, 1864. The New Crown Hill Cemetery was dedicated July 1, 1864 and one week later Mrs. Smith paid $500 for the plot of her choice and lots and had the mausoleum constructed C.B.Smith Carved above the entrance on the floor between two Egyptian Like columns is also carved C.B. Smith 1864. As this was one of the first mausoleums built in this new cemetery and it as the time was located “away out in the country” and if she feared easily with or without permission had her husband safely buried and the mausoleum built over top of the grave.

This writer joins all the others who have been obsessed with this mystery—hoping that someone will produce a document or some knowledge that will solve this “weird mystery”.

Johnny Walker

Rural Route 2 (now RR.6) 

Now 2857 West Substation

Connersville,Indiana 47331

My grandfather John Walker

Transcribed by Granddaughter, Cynthia Long-Clarke

Copyright 2009

Footnotes and Asterisk

1.      Up to date story of crown hill cemetery

2.      Feature writer for the Indianapolis star.

3.      Editorial Staff of Indianapolis Journal 1881-1904,

Editorial writer Indianapolis Star 1904-1926.

An Idyl of the Wabash (short stories) 1898.

The making of Thomas Barton (short Stories).

A History of Crown Hill 1926

Anna Nichols died January 29, 1929

4.      Privately Printed by Crown Hill

5.      Connersville Historian 1920s and 1930s

6.      Connersville News Examiner

7.      Since the remains of Caleb Smith were not found in the Mausoleum bearing his name, he assumed the story was true that his body had been returned to the city where he had lived for 25-years and laid to read beside his infant son.

8.      Miss Anna Nichols Version.

9.      From the Caleb B. Smith file, Connersville Public library.

10.  Indiana History magazine, Vol. 29 by Louis Bailey

11.  Is no 11 mis marked?

12.  Like of Henry Clay—book finished by Horace Greely (not marked 11, but 12)

13.  A Masonic affiliated body, consisting of 32 degrees and an Honorary 33 degree.

14.  Mr. Guthrie passed away Nov 5, 1977

15.  Caretaker of the City Cemetery in the 1930’s Mr. Baker of Carthage, In also used Mr. Reiman’s statement in his Saga of a Lost Grand Master in Indiana Freemason magazine 1955.

16.  Librarian of Connersville, In writing about response of Senator New May 13, 1936.

17.  Elmhurst School for girls 1909-1929—Elm Twigs school paper.


Theroy about burial elsewhere in article


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Ecclesiastes Chapter 12, Verse 5


Grand Masonic Records of Indiana

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