On Tuesday evening, May 2, 1916, at 8:30 p.m., Mrs. J. T. Conley and Mrs. H. Richards discovered the lifeless body of a male child in the woman’s toilet room of the Pennsylvania depot in downtown Alliance. The child was wrapped in newspaper and had been dead for some time. Its weight was about 8-10 pounds.
Death and Discovery
The two ladies immediately notified the police who in turn started investigating the death. Coroner B. J. Douds of Canton arrived to inspect the child’s body.
The skin of the baby was dark, denoting either African American or Italian parentage. The coroner was unable to determine whether the baby was born alive or not, but all indications were that no physician had handled the delivery. The newspaper account stated that “the child had apparently been bathed and there were some indications that talcum powder had been used upon it.” The official word from the coroner was “hemorrhage from neglect to tie cod, being found dead in toilet room at Penna. depot. Alliance, Stark County. — Neglect.”
Blume’s undertaking rooms
The baby remained at Blume’s underaking rooms as the investigation continued. Several hundred people visited the funeral home to view the abandoned baby boy. “Mr. Blume had the body embalmed and dressed and it [rested] in a neat little casket placed within a glass case, where it [could] be viewed by all who [cared] to see it.” Mr. Blume offered a $10 reward to the mother of the child if she would come and claim the body. Three days later, he raised the reward to $20, but no one came forward.
The mystery of the dead baby boy grew as Blume’s undertaking received a phone message from an unidentified woman on May 7. The caller requested that the body be held until Friday, May 12.
Visitors who viewed the baby asked how he would be buried. Though their donations were small, people began leaving quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, with an occasional dollar bill to help provide a proper burial for the abandoned child. Donations continued to come in “for baby” and soon totaled $21.57 to defray the expenses of burying the infant.
On Sunday, May 14, 1916, the funeral services were held at G. E. Blume & Son undertaking rooms, with Rev. J. C. Turner of the A. M. E. church and Capt. Stark of the Salvation Army officiating. The remains would be deposited in the City Cemetery receiving vault if no new developments arose.
The account of the service made the front page of The Alliance Review with the heading, “Unusual Were Funeral Rites.” More than 200 people attended the service to pay their respects to the baby. The service was touted as “unusual” because of the mystery surrounding the child, the fact that no mourners attended, and no mother was in attendance to grieve the death. The crowd contained a mix of nationalities to witness the Christian burial of the unknown baby boy.
A quartet from the A. M. E. church consisting of Charles Smith, William Johnson, Mary Moore, and Lucy Smith sang two songs and Mrs. Stark from the Salvation Army sang “Beautiful Isle of Somewhere.” The baby, robed in a garment of white, rested in a little white casket, with a donated wreath of flowers decorating the bier.
Laid to Rest
Burial took place on Monday, May 15, in the northwest corner of Section S in Alliance City Cemetery. A grave marker, about two feet by eight inches and three inches thick was donated by Bauhof and Graham monument makers. It is inscribed:
UNKNOWN BABY BOY
Found dead at Penna. R. R. Depot
May 2, 1916
Buried by the public
Each year, on the anniversary of the baby’s death, an unknown person places flowers on the grave. The mystery continues.
Story compiled from reports in The Alliance Review, May 3, 1916 — May 16, 1916