The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

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don
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by don » Tue Mar 20, 2018 11:08 am

and of course ,as you said,no way of knowing for sure if it was ruths skull or not...no way of knowing for sure if there were bullet holes in it or not..im not sure where that leaves us.
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Wed Mar 21, 2018 12:09 pm

Don wrote:
thanks jim....heres a question...any idea from who or where the story came from that Ruth's skull was POSITIVELY identifid by Ruth's Dentist? If it came from Ely then that practically renders the rest of his(Ely's) story worthless
Hi Don,

Not necessarily…if I had to make a guess, I think the dentist story is somewhat true. I’ve never seen any affidavit, etc. from Ruth’s dentist. Something like that might exist. But that’s not why I believe the story. I’m pretty sure that the dentist story came from Erwin Ruth, to Northcut Ely, and then to Sims Ely. The reason I believe this, is Erwin used Northcut, who was in a high federal government position, to press for an inquest into the “murder” of Adolph Ruth. I know of one other time he brought up the dentist, it was in a letter to detective Dan Jones that Garry got from the family.

I think the reason the Ruth story got so much attention by LDM’ers (while other deaths in the mtns didn’t) is because most people believed Ruth had a genuine map to a Spanish and/or Mexican mine. So then it became a game of pin the tail on the donkey.

What I mean by this: People could use the Ruth story to bolster their own credibility, i.e. “I know the mine is in the western supes, and you should believe me because Ruth had a genuine map and was camped at Willow Springs.” Or: “Ruth was killed at Willow Springs and his body moved to keep people from looking there.” Or: “Ruth was actually looking for the Caverna con Casa at Angel Springs”. Or: “Ruth was killed near Iron Mountain and his body moved to keep people from looking there.” Or: “Ruth was killed on Peters Mesa and his body moved to keep people from looking there”. Just recently I saw a guy trying to imply Ruth was killed in his area of interest which happens to be north of the Salt and the Goldfield area. The game goes on and on. Personally, I’ve never seen anything from an official source (law enforcement document) that says where Ruth’s body was found.

Best regards, Jim
Jim R.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Tue Mar 27, 2018 6:47 pm

Just re-reading this and had a few observations...Don, I agree that the entire LDM legend as we know it is pretty jumbled up now, perhaps impossibly so. There may have been some "tongue in cheek" use of the LDM and Ruth legends by people in Apache Junction to "drum up business" so to speak, but I for one think the net effect has been positive, especially when we consider the museum there and all the work that has been done, and freely made available, by Greg D. and others.

Another comment I had, the "silver" plate and the identification of a .44 or .45 caliber pistol being the murder weapon came from Sims Ely...in his book, he references a conversation he had with Hrdlicka in DC.
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by ThomasG » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:03 am

RE: Hrdlicka,

I have been going over Hrdlicka’s conclusions re: Ruth with a couple of colleagues. I am becoming increasingly skeptical of Hrdlicka’s qualifications in forensic medicine or anthropology.

My reasons are:

i) The index to Hrdlicka’s papers does not indicate someone who had a great deal of either interest in forensic anthropology/pathology.

The titles of his papers indicate his interest in social and population dynamics as or different populations based on physical anthropology. e.g., skeletal remains of one group or population compared to another, such as Native Americans and Asians.

ii) Garry sent me some material that I had previously seen and most of which I have in my files. However, Garry’s presentation of the material in consecutive PDFs revealed something I had either missed or dismissed previously. I now read Hrdlicka’s reports – draft and final – with a more jaundice eye. Having the two files consecutively listed helped a great deal.

What initially struck me re-reading Hrdlicka’s draft is says he has: “examined many skulls with bullet holes found on battlefields.” But you can see where the word “many" was crossed out. In the final draft it reads “I have examined such wounds before and have examined skulls with bullet holes found on battlefields.”

I little doubt that he had seen and examined such wounds before. But, forensic anthropology was not his field. The more experience he had with bullet wounds the more weight to his conclusions re: the Ruth skull — or any other.

In science sample size is very significant. First, the more experience one has the stronger their conclusions in a given field. And experience usually correlates with experience.

As an academic it seems strange to me that he apparently felt compelled to cross out the word “many” when it would have strengthened his conclusions. That he seems to have purposely downgraded the sample size is curious. The greater the sample size/experience the more weight one would give to his conclusions. So why the downgrade?

Further, when Hrdilcka says he had examined skulls from battlefields with bullet wounds what did he examine them for? Race? Age? Forensic pathology? Cataloguing types of projectile wounds — grape shot versus a bullet? Etc.

iii) Thanks to Jim I found the info. on Hrdlicka’s time in Paris-- (National Academy of Sciences, Biographical Memoirs, Volume XXIII Twelfth Memoir, Biographical Memoir of Ales Hrdlicka 1869-1943, by Adolph H. Schultz). But it raises even more questions for me. Schultz reports:

"At his own expense he went to Paris early in 1896 and for four months he studied anthropology under Manouvrier, physiology under Bouchard and medico-legal subjects under Brouardel, besides attending clinics at various hospitals. He also travelled to Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, and England to inspect medical and anthropological institutions.”

The way I read it is that Hrdlicka studied for four months with or under three different people — Manouvier, Bouchard and Brouaedel, and he traveled to four countries from France — Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, and England, inspecting medical and anthropological institutions, while attending various clinics and various hospitals in France. I seriously doubt that he had any in-depth training with Manouvier, Bouchard or Brouaedel. Best casing it, I should think that he would have been lucky to get in a couple or three of consecutive weeks with any one person.

T

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by novice » Thu Mar 29, 2018 6:24 am

Damn those pesky details! :)

Rereading the passage; “skulls with bullet holes found on battlefields”, I suddenly realized. I have been entertaining a. bad assumption from the beginning. I had always assumed that Dr. Hrdlicka was serving in some capacity during World War I and was physically present on the battlefield. I know Thomas hinted at possible Civil War battlefields but I thought he just misspoke.

Dr. Hrdlicka amassed a collection of thousands of human skulls over his career and I now suspect he somehow obtained skulls, from possibly various battlefields, some of which exhibited head wounds.

Thomas,

Since you are digging into Hrdlicka’s background, did he ever serve in any conflict? I still may be off the tracks and I would appreciate your thoughts and sources on how he viewed or obtained skulls from battlefields. Also which battlefields. (Civil War, Spanish American, etc.)

Garry

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:30 am

novice wrote:Damn those pesky details! :)

Rereading the passage; “skulls with bullet holes found on battlefields”, I suddenly realized. I have been entertaining a. bad assumption from the beginning. I had always assumed that Dr. Hrdlicka was serving in some capacity during World War I and was physically present on the battlefield. I know Thomas hinted at possible Civil War battlefields but I thought he just misspoke.

Dr. Hrdlicka amassed a collection of thousands of human skulls over his career and I now suspect he somehow obtained skulls, from possibly various battlefields, some of which exhibited head wounds.

Thomas,

Since you are digging into Hrdlicka’s background, did he ever serve in any conflict? I still may be off the tracks and I would appreciate your thoughts and sources on how he viewed or obtained skulls from battlefields. Also which battlefields. (Civil War, Spanish American, etc.)

Garry
Guys,

Don't know where my information on Hrdlicka is squireled away, but I did research his qualifications and history some time ago. I came away from that search convinced that he was more than qualified to examine and give opinions on the skull of Adolph Ruth.

"Beginning with much of the skeletal collection of the Army Medical Museum, which had been transferred to the Smithsonian in 1898 before he was appointed there, Hrdlicka amassed a bone collection that included, among many other specimens, the Huntington collection, casts of fossil remains of man, and a large and diverse North American collection. He also gathered a large collection of human brains. Over three hundred publications resulted from his study of this material, his field work, and his study of specimens in other museums. In addition, he was involved in many other activities. For United States government agencies, he provided services ranging from examinations of human remains for law enforcement officials to providing information and opinions concerning national origins and traits that were needed to interpret laws and form foreign policy. During World War II, he also advised government officials on policies to be pursued with certain national groups following the war."

As I have stated before, you can find all of the information you seek from the Smithsonian, just as I did.

Good luck,

Joe

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Thu Mar 29, 2018 10:35 am

You will notice that there are no set parameters for the appearance of head wounds.

https://www.bing.com/images/search?q=sk ... &FORM=IGRE

Once again, Good luck,

Joe

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:14 pm

Seconding Joe, I believe there may be reason for caution in throwing out Hrdlicka's conclusions just yet. While there is always some room for questioning the qualifications of any individual, but so far everything I've read in the forensics realm gives great credit to Hrdlicka for his early efforts in the field.

For example I've read how he was involved in the first cooperation between the FBI and the National Museum's anthropology department, and he cultivated young doctors that showed interest in forensics. Off the top of my head, I think two of his protege's that he employed on his staff went on to become prominent in the field. He showed a lifelong interest and involvement in forensics, and generally hadn't been given much attention historically simply because the overwhelming amount of his published work concerned other subjects.

From what I've been able to dig up (just in the preliminary stages of investigating Hrdlicka) he did forensic consultation with law enforcement agencies for many years, and seemed to be instrumental in "standing up" this capability in the US. I think this may have been the purpose of his trip in 1896, as it appears he focused on European forensics capabilities and visited early crime labs to see how they operated and the techniques used. I have a bunch of documents on Hrdlicka that I will post to the internet (too much to email to everyone). I will try to get those docs up within the next day or two, and will email you guys with the http address so everything will be available to you. Best regards, Jim
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Thu Mar 29, 2018 12:24 pm

Garry,

Hrdlicka never served in a military capacity, but at this early stage I can see a few smoking guns in how he may have seen skulls from battlefields:

1. He was instrumental in taking charge of medical specimens (skeletal) from the Army Medical Museum and transferring them to the National Museum
2. Many of the indigenous skeletons he worked on had damage from violent conflict (war clubs, etc)
3. There were mass exhumations in Europe around the time of his trip overseas in 1896, and it's very likely many of those exhumations occurred on battlefields...not certain of that yet, but still digging. Many of those exhumations were carried out by the people he met and studied with, for the express purpose of forensics study, and the role insects play in human decomposition (among other things)...

That's just off the top of my head. I will get those documents up asap. Best regards, Jim
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by don » Fri Mar 30, 2018 6:11 am

going off topic somewhat but as for hrdlickas personality,i remember reading about his "practises" in alaska where many considered him to be vain,childlike and arrogant during the period when he rode roughshod over the descendants wishes regarding the skeletons he exhumed/collected from burial grounds....i believe he was also accused of breaking the law while indulging in his "activities". none of that however makes him any less or any more capable of coming to a conclusion regarding the skull prseumed to be ruth's. but one wonders how anyone could draw anything conclusive from Hrdlickas statement re Ruths supposed skull....the man (hrdlicka)wasnt even sure HIMSELF ! as evidenced by the number of "probabley's, "possibly's", "in all likelihoods" ,"reasonable certainty" in his report,not to mention the 3(?) different firearms that MIGHT have fired the bullet (s) ,IF indeed the holes in the skull were caused by a bullet(s) in the first place.....take his statement/report into a court of law as a means of convicting a suspected murderer and i have little doubt you would be laughed out of court. as i see it hrdlicka's report ,replete as it is with uncertainties, in HIS words not mine is of no practical use or value as regards determining whether ruths death was by natural or un natural causes. it has use and value to only 1 body of people...that body of people being those who have an axe to grind and wish to put forward the theory or fact that Ruth was killed deliberately and with malice for financial gain.
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Sun Apr 01, 2018 1:00 am

don wrote:going off topic somewhat but as for hrdlickas personality,i remember reading about his "practises" in alaska where many considered him to be vain,childlike and arrogant during the period when he rode roughshod over the descendants wishes regarding the skeletons he exhumed/collected from burial grounds....i believe he was also accused of breaking the law while indulging in his "activities". none of that however makes him any less or any more capable of coming to a conclusion regarding the skull prseumed to be ruth's. but one wonders how anyone could draw anything conclusive from Hrdlickas statement re Ruths supposed skull....the man (hrdlicka)wasnt even sure HIMSELF ! as evidenced by the number of "probabley's, "possibly's", "in all likelihoods" ,"reasonable certainty" in his report,not to mention the 3(?) different firearms that MIGHT have fired the bullet (s) ,IF indeed the holes in the skull were caused by a bullet(s) in the first place.....take his statement/report into a court of law as a means of convicting a suspected murderer and i have little doubt you would be laughed out of court. as i see it hrdlicka's report ,replete as it is with uncertainties, in HIS words not mine is of no practical use or value as regards determining whether ruths death was by natural or un natural causes. it has use and value to only 1 body of people...that body of people being those who have an axe to grind and wish to put forward the theory or fact that Ruth was killed deliberately and with malice for financial gain.
Don,

We had this discussion years ago. At that time, I wrote that NO scientist, especially in Herdlicka's field, makes definitive statements on any conclusions they have reached after seeing the available evidence on any "finds" from the field. The reason for that is simple and logical. The next turn of a spade can change every situatilon by revealing never beforer seen evidence. They all leave some wriggle room in their theories, just for those unseen and unknown pieces of hidden evidence.

Hrdlicka was excoriated by many of his contempories, which is no different than what was done to everyone who challanged the accepted "facts",
or provided new evidence, backed up by their research. After examining his historical record, it seems obvious that he was at the top of the pecking order. At this point in time, I believe Dr. Glover has reached the top of the pecking order as the "go-too" LDM historian. I seldom disagree with his conclusions, unless he is quotilng a certain bad source. In this case it all comes down to a difference of opinion.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by don » Sun Apr 01, 2018 5:27 am

Joe,
Yes id forgotten the discussion from way back. but the facts/non facts/questionable facts remain the same ,as you say "the next turn of the shovel" or "wiggle room" etc really proves the point...if hrdlicka himself couldnt be 100% sure ,then theres no way the rest of us can be. if those holes werent bullet holes,and there are plausible possible alternatives for those holes in the skull which have been discussed here and elsewhere then much of the LDM plot falls apart....because if the ruth incident hadnt occurred and hadnt attracted such attention in an admittedly small circle of "fans", then its doubtful the legend would even be talked about these days ....it would have died a death 100 years ago. Ruth by dying,unwittingly kept the story alive...aided of course by newsmen,authors ,jack the lads, and of course the proverbial purveyors of b.s (some who spread the b.s knowingly,and some unknowingly, who just repeated and accepted what other folk (who didnt know either) told them....too many sets of brackets there i think, but anyway.
kind regards
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Sun Apr 01, 2018 9:40 pm

don wrote:Joe,
Yes id forgotten the discussion from way back. but the facts/non facts/questionable facts remain the same ,as you say "the next turn of the shovel" or "wiggle room" etc really proves the point...if hrdlicka himself couldnt be 100% sure ,then theres no way the rest of us can be. if those holes werent bullet holes,and there are plausible possible alternatives for those holes in the skull which have been discussed here and elsewhere then much of the LDM plot falls apart....because if the ruth incident hadnt occurred and hadnt attracted such attention in an admittedly small circle of "fans", then its doubtful the legend would even be talked about these days ....it would have died a death 100 years ago. Ruth by dying,unwittingly kept the story alive...aided of course by newsmen,authors ,jack the lads, and of course the proverbial purveyors of b.s (some who spread the b.s knowingly,and some unknowingly, who just repeated and accepted what other folk (who didnt know either) told them....too many sets of brackets there i think, but anyway.
kind regards
Don,

All things considered, I just can't wrap my mind around Ruth making it to where his body did, without unseen hands propelling him there. Most of us don't know the entire story and probably never will.

Take care,

Joe

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Ales Hrdlicka

Post by ThomasG » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:13 pm

To all:

Since Hrdlicka's findings re: the skull of Adolph Ruth seem to have interest I thought that perhaps a tread devoted to that topic might be appropriate.

With the input from Jim and Garry I have been able to dig a little deeper into the question of Hrdlicka’s qualifications as a forensic scientist. Jim refered me to an article by Ubelaker’s on Hardlicka. It is a biography written by an author paying respect to a pioneer of “forensic science”.

It was published by the National Academy of Sciences — “A Biographical Memoir of Ales Hrdlicka, 1869-1943”. It was presented to the Academy at the autumn meeting in 1944. The article is 4,000 plus words. It cites over 100 references and sources. The point is it is a serious article about Hrdlicka and his work, his contributions to forensic science and in the integration of anthropological science with the legal system

Having finished the Ubelaker article it raises more questions for me than it answers. It also leaves me questioning Hrdlicka’s forensic abilities more than ever.

First, it seems that term forensic and medico-legal were used differently back then. It does not seem to be what we would think of today as forensic science.

On pgs 727-729 Ubelaker has a section entitled “Consultation and Testimony on Forensic Matters”. This section has in chronological order Hrdlicka’s findings/involvement in “forensic science” and contributions to the integration of physical anthropology into the legal system.

It lists in chronological sequence Hrdlicka’s contributions. To wit:

1896 Hrdlicka testifies re: epilepsy and insanity in a jury trial.
1910 He identifies skeletal material as not being from a missing man, but from an Indian of great antiquity.
1910 He is asked while in Peru he examined remains thought to be those of Pizzaro. Hrdlicka thought the remains were not likely to be Pixxaro. He then identifies remains in a criminal case as not recent but of an Indian of great antiquity. The suspected murderer is released.
1914 He testifies re” blood types/status” of Chippewa Indians.
1915 He testifies (essentially) on the status of the Chippewa.
1920 Special assistant to the Attorney General wrote a letter to the Secretary of the Smithsonian that all sides in the Chippewa matter accepted Hrdlicka’s conclusions.
1932 Hrdlicka receives Ruth skull and makes his determination(s).

Note that while Hrdlicka had had medico-legal experience prior to the Ruth affair, none of it involved anything concerning wounds — or what we today are forensic medicine. It was all medico-legal.

Hrdicka does appear to have been a pioneer in the sense of bringing scientific testimony and method to the law enforcement and the courtroom concerning skeletal remains. e.g., modern or ancient.

After 1932 the pattern is much the same:

1936 (FBI) Earliest entry in “available FBI files: re: Hrdlicka. He presented testimony on the racial status of the Japanese.
1936 (FBI) Jacksonville office (FBI?) contacted the Smithsonian, inquiry apparently handed off to Hrdlicka. Content of inquiry not known.
1937 (FBI) A memorandum sent from D. C. office to the Director of the FBI re: Hrdlicka’s biography and professional accomplishments.
1938 (FBI) Letter from J. Edgar Hoover to Hrdlicka thanking him for examining human remains fro Arkansas.
1938 (FBI) Hrdlicka identifies bone as not human, but the foot of a small bear.
1940 (FBI) Hrdlicka presented analysis of the skeleton an aged white man. He notes stature comments on muscularity, etc. and notes evidence of gunshot trauma. U=In the temples were two small holes evidently made by small caliber, but powerful bullet.
1940 (FBI) This is rather confusing in Ubelaker’s article. Likely because it seems the records he had access to were confusing. Apparently a total of three skulls were examined by Hrdlicka. Why is a good question. Only conclusion info. is one skull was of and American Indian female.
1943 (FBI) A lengthy memorandum to the Director on Hrdlicka’s help in consulting. That Hrdlicka has alway been very helpful.
1943 (FBI) Letter to the director of the Smithsonian acknowledging Hrdlick’a “splendid assistance” in the study of animal and human remains submitted to the Phoenix office concerning investigation of a crime on an Indian reservation.

Latter in 1943 Hrdlicka died.

What stands out is that Hrdlicka seems to have had next to no experience in what, we today, would call forensic science — let alone bullet wounds.

And it seems (although some of the FBI files are “unclear”) that after the Ruth affair Hrdlicka’s main contributions were of skeletal remains, e.g., whether bones were human or bear.

While Hrdlicka says he had experience with bullet wounds in skeletal material as early as 1932 questions remain. IF he did was his expertise in the ethnicity of the victim? Or whether the victim (bones) was human or otherwise.

One thing does seem clear. In Hrdlicka’s day the term forensic science in a legal context meant something different then than today.

I still do not find much that shows demonstrable expertise for Hrdlicka in wounds, including bullet wounds, especially prior to the Ruth affair.

Thomas

PS: In my first book I referenced Civil War skeletal material as examples of such for Hrdlicka. Garry asked what was my reference. I must confess that reference is lost in the mist of time. I know I consider it a sound reference at the time, but my recollection is it was given to me verbally in a discussion from a source I trusted. But it may have just been a passing comment on a possibility. Or it something I deduced. In any case in light of more research I would withdraw that comment.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Cubfan64 » Sat Apr 07, 2018 8:27 am

Thomas,

Hrdlicka has a lengthy list of professional papers and articles written over his career, but I would have expected to see at least a few related to skull damage, gun shot wound recognition, etc... but I've seen nothing like that. I'm certain he saw bullet wounds to the skull during his research, but I hardly think that would qualify him as an expert.

I don't remember the specifics - how exactly did Hrdlicka get involved in looking at Ruth's skull? Was he a friend of the family or was the Ruth family pointed in his direction for some reason?

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by don » Sat Apr 07, 2018 1:01 pm

cubfan
to the best of my belief...erwin ruth ,disatisfied with the verdict of natural causes, wanted to push for a verdict or murder.he seems to have arranged for hrdlicka to examine the skull in the hope hrdlickas report would confirm the presence of bullet holes..im guessing hrdlicka would have been paid for so doing,which to the cynics amongst us might possibly open another can of worms.
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Mon Apr 09, 2018 8:01 pm

From the Hrdlicka documents provided by Joe and Garry, and reading some of Hrdlicka’s work, it appears to me:

1. Odd Halseth mailed Ruth’s skull to Neil Judd in Wash DC, with instructions to contact both the Ruth family and Dr. Hrdlicka, for identification. Halseth and the doctors in Phoenix were unable to determine if the skull was Ruth’s.

2. Hrdlicka seems not only to have identified the skull as Ruth’s, using anthropometry, but added that he believed Ruth had been shot. It also appears, from the evidence we have, that anthropometry was the primary focus of Dr. Hrdlicka’s forensic work…not bullet wounds.

3. I agree with Don that the family was pushing for an inquest, and they believed Ruth might have been murdered. Whether Hrdlicka was paid by the Ruth family, I don’t know…whether or not Hrdlicka would have let that sway his assessment, I personally don’t think so, based on what I’ve seen. Everything I’ve seen or read by Hrdlicka seems to be forthright. But it’s possible.

4. I agree with Thomas, that Hrdlicka probably didn’t have forensic skills equivalent to what we see today. However, for his day it appears to me that he was at the least informed, if not readily familiar with forensic science. Basic as it was.

5. I believe Hrdlicka had access to skulls with gunshot wounds. Both through the Army Medical Museum and one instance I was able to find, on a battlefield between Mexican officials and Yaqui’s. Some of those Yaqui’s had been executed. Whether or not this qualifies him to state that Ruth had been shot, I don’t know. Whether or not he had additional access to other skulls with bullet wounds, I don’t know.

6. Being from that area, I’ve been told by people I have reason to believe, that Ruth most definitely was shot, there is no ambiguity here. This was long before the internet or forums had been invented. Perhaps this is coloring my assessment of Hrdlicka’s conclusions…i.e. I believe Ruth was shot, therefore I believe any scientific evidence to support this.

So there it is from my perspective. Perhaps we will learn more in the near future. Best regards, Jim
Jim R.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Joe Ribaudo » Tue Apr 10, 2018 10:38 am

Jim,

Can't find anything you have written that I disagree with. For his time, Hrdlicka was the top dog.......as far as I have been able to tell. In that respect he had plenty of detractors as well. Pretty normal for people in his field. Everyone thought they were better.

Take care,

Joe

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:24 pm

Joe, I got that feeling too, like some people actually resented Hrdlicka having such a prestigious post.

Having some personal confusion over the events taking place around the discovery of Ruth’s remains, who the people and organizations were, who did what when, etc…I put together a short timeline using Dr. Glover’s “Treasure Tales of the Superstitions” and a couple of Tom Kollenborn’s articles on Ruth. I was able to fill in some of the remaining “personal knowledge” gaps with a little research of my own. Once I made this timeline, there were a couple of things that stood out. Anyway, here it is:

1929 - City of Phoenix hired Odd S. Halseth as City Archaeologist. Also in 1929, Halseth meets Neil Judd, who he would later mail Ruth’s skull to, at the 1929 Pecos Conference. This was/is a conference for southwestern archaeologists. Neil Judd also worked with Halseth during the 1930 aerial survey of ancient Hohokam canals in Phoenix. Judd worked on several archaeological sites in Arizona over the years. He was the Curator of the National Museum’s Archaeology Dept. during the Ruth episode.

5/6 DEC 31 – Ritchie Lewis and Brownie Holmes lead riding/pack animals from Lewis’ Tempe location to First Water Ranch for week-long joint archaeological expedition in Superstitions. These animals and the hunting hounds taken on the expedition belonged to Lewis.

7 DEC 31 – Expedition departs First Water Ranch in the morning. Members are Harvey Mott, Editor, AZ Republic; Odd S. Halseth, Phoenix City Archaelogist; E.D. Newcomer, Photographer; George “Brownie” Holmes, Guide; Ritchie Lewis, Outfitter.

7 DEC 31 – By evening, expedition has reached Garden Valley and set up camp. It rained for two days. Archaeological exploration of Garden Valley not very successful due to heavy rains and mud. They stay in camp here on 8 and 9 DEC.

10 DEC 31 – Rain stopped. Expedition decides to break camp that morning and move on to Charlebois Canyon. Near the “Spanish Racetrack” skull is discovered by “Music”, one of Lewis’ hounds. E. D. Newcomer takes photos.

10 DEC 31 – Expedition camps overnight at Charlebois Spring. Skull hung in tree to protect it from predators. Expedition decides to return to Phoenix in the morning.

11 DEC 31 – Expedition departs Charlebois Spring for First Water Ranch. Later that day, Expedition reaches First Water Ranch. Mott, Halseth and Newcomer return to Phoenix.

12 DEC 31 – Dr. Orville H. Brown and Dr. James J. Lasalle examine skull and compare it to photos of Ruth. They believe it compares favorably. Dental surgeon Dr. Claude Moore examines skull and believes that the skull is from an aged white man who wore dentures.

12 DEC 31 – Arizona Republic reports skull thought to be Adolph Ruth’s is found.

13 DEC 31 - Halseth cables Science Service in Washington, DC. Science Service is a non-profit science newswire organization that was founded by the National Academy of Sciences and the National Museum (Smithsonian). While a separate entity, Science Service remains closely affiliated with the National Museum. Halseth is basically trying to sell the story to them, but also asks the Science Service to contact Ruth’s son, and Dr. Ales Hrdlicka, Curator of Physical Anthropology at the National Museum.

13 DEC 31 – Watson Davis, editor of the “Science News Letter” at the Science Service, (and later head of the Science Service), telegraphs back to Halseth. Watson basically turns down the Ruth story and explains they are only interested in any archaeological aspects of the expedition. Watson also tells Halseth that Ruth’s family has been contacted and that they would communicate with him.

14 DEC 31 – Halseth mails the skull to Neil Judd. Judd is a friend of Halseth’s, and is at this time the Curator of Archaeology at the National Museum.

16 DEC 31 – Halseth telegraphs Judd and explains that he has shipped the skull and to “deliver and notify him (Hrdlicka) immediately upon arrival.”

16 DEC 31 – Halseth writes a letter to Hrdlicka explaining what is going on and asks for haste in Hrdlicka’s opinion.

19 DEC 31 – Hrdlicka receives the skull and sends what looks like a telegram to Halseth: “Skull unquestionably that of an aged white man. Recent shot possible.”

5 JAN 32 – Jeff Adams (Ex-sheriff, part-time Deputy, Maricopa County), Ace Gardner (Deputy, Pinal County), Tex Barkley, Gabriel Robles, and Hosea Cline enter mountains in search of the rest of Ruth’s remains.

8 JAN 32 – Search party locates Ruth’s skeleton on the eastern slope of Black Top Mesa.

10 JAN 32 – AZ Republic reports Ruth’s remains found.

11 JAN 32 – Jim Bark arrives in PHX, begins looking into Ruth matter. He is communicating with both Sims Ely and Northcutt Ely. Northcutt is a prominent attorney in Wash DC, and is serving as an executive assistant to Secretary of the Interior Wilbur. Northcutt is in contact with the Ruth Family.

12 JAN 32 – Sheriff’s Dept. ships Ruth’s personal effects back home to DC.

14 JAN 32 – Sheriff James R. McFadden writes letter to Earl Ruth regarding case.

19 JAN 32 – Jim Bark writes letter to Northcutt Ely, describing how Adams and Barkley followed Ruth’s map into a tributary canyon off Peters’ Canyon.

21 JAN 32 – Senator Carl Hayden (D-AZ) writes a letter to Maricopa County Attorney Lloyd Andrews, lobbying for an inquest into the Ruth matter. Sen. Hayden says Northcutt Ely and Erwin Ruth had shown up at his office with Hrdlicka’s affidavit.

25 JAN 32 – Jeff Adams writes letter to Sen. Hayden stating he believes Ruth died of natural causes, evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

13 FEB 32 – Ruth’s remains shipped to Washington DC.

17 FEB 32 – Death certificate filed in Maricopa County for Adolph Ruth. Place of death, Superstition Mts, Maricopa Co.; Date of death, June 1931; Cause of Death, UNK; Accident, Suicide or Homicide, UNK.

The biggest thing that stands out to me now, is something people have been telling me all along…there never was any investigation. There was not time for one, at least not one of any substance. His personal effects were shipped off within 4 days of finding them (actually, only about 1 and a half working days, since the 4 days spanned a weekend), and his remains were shipped off after about 5 weeks. There may be something wrong with my days on this, as the death certificate was filed the next week. At any rate, for one reason or another, or maybe many reasons, it looks like they just washed their hands of it.

The other question I have is why was this all done in Maricopa County? Ruth’s camp, his skull, and the rest of his remains were all found in Pinal County. Strange.

Am I missing sources that show Pinal County’s participation in this? I’m aware they helped in the initial search in the summer of ’31, but from the time the skull and remains are found on, I don’t have anything on Pinal County being involved. Perhaps they were and I just don’t have the info.

Best regards, Jim
Jim R.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Sat Apr 14, 2018 8:31 pm

Also, forgot to add, I also used as references the Halseth/Hrclicka correspondence provided by Garry. Joe, I think they're originally from your research at the Smithsonian? At any rate I forgot to add that to above post, thanks to you guys for sharing that info as well as Dr. Glover and Tom Kollenborn. Best regards, Jim
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:53 pm

One other thing...it looks to me like someone typed up first drafts of Hrdlicka's letters and responses...after which, it also appears to me that he proofread them and made changes to them. The changes show that whoever made the changes, I'm assuming it was Hrdlicka, had training in proofreading and how to make changes that would be unambiguous to a clerk typist. I've had the same training and the changes look familiar to me and are consistent with how I would do it, but only after that training...The response Hrdlicka makes to Halseth on 19 DEC appears to be a draft of a telegram, which he made changes to. I quoted the words he added on to what appears to be a draft telegram:

"Recent shot possible."

After looking at this again, it looks to me like this edit was made with a "quill" pen (not a ball point or pencil). I still have pens like that today, the quill is steel or brass...that type of pen is what I'm talking about...the ink fades and leaves what looks like faint letters with an outline. At first I didn't notice it, but I think Hrdlicka had a comma between the word "recent" and "shot". So it appears to me he's saying, in the terse vernacular of "pay by the letter" telegrams: "Recent, shot possible." So he's answering the question Halseth asked (but was not answered in the wording of the draft), that the skull was recent, not ancient. Then he adds he believes Ruth was possibly shot with "shot possible".
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by ThomasG » Tue May 01, 2018 2:09 pm

Not trying to beat the “Hrdlicka horse” to death, just a few possibly relevant comments.

First, I am trying to get the weather data for the Phoenix area for the week of Ruth’s arrival in the Superstitions. Statistically June is one of the four hottest months in Central Arizona.

Second, a possible experiment – one that will not prove anything definitively: Retracing Ruth’s Route. A small team -- two or three – enters the mountains in June when the weather, especially temperature, is similar to that Ruth encountered. Camp at Willow Spring, then after a day or two one member leaves with what Ruth carried. A colleague with more water, etc accompanies him. To replicate Ruth’s mobility one could use a bandage, e.g., Ace elastic bandage, tightly around one knee. One would also use a cane – not a walking stick. And one would use foot ware comparable to what Ruth had, The route that Ruth used is known and one would follow that route. They would leave after daybreak, probably well after day break

It would be interesting to see the results. Perhaps someone can suggest a way to replicate Ruth’s age/condition. For such must be taken into account.

The object is not to go macho to prove you can do it, but to test and evaluate whether or not you think Ruth in his condition — age, a partially compromised leg, walking with a cane, not in hiking boots on one quart of water could have accomplished it — the effect it would have had on someone of Ruth’s physicality.

This is not a challenge!! It is a possible way, with proper safeguards to get a rough idea of the chances Ruth could have made the journey from his camp to where his remains were discovered.

Third, is a reiteration of Hrdlicka’s expertise as regards what we today understand forensic science to be. The point is that in Ruth’s day forensic science was not what we think of as forensic science today.

In the 19th century – the birth of modern forensic science – the issues most often or significantly addressed seem to have been the development of blood typing, fingerprints, and ballistics. It took not years, but decades, for fingerprint evidence to be finally accepted as definitive. The identification of a bullet coming from a specific type of gun or gun also took time to be accepted. As did the typing of blood and the frequency of different blood types -- let alone the genetics.

The point of this is that this is the period when modern forensic science began to mature, and the timeframe in which Hrdlicka was educated – the middle and late 19th century.

Fourth, another field in forensics which was significant and maturing during Hrdlicka’s time was the identification of remains. Some of the most sensational trials of the 19th century involved identifying partial remains. One such case involved the remains of a man who had: i) disappeared, ii) had been murdered, iii) his body had been cut up and was slowly being cremated in a building’s furnace, iv) the partial remains were discovered, v) the remains were determined to be the same body type as the deceased and then as the deceased.

It is apparently in this capacity that Hrdlicka’s expertise was utilized. He was called on to identify remains as to age, or sex, or ethnicity. In fact, the most lauded accomplishment of Hrdlicka re: Ruth’s skull was the use (perhaps the first such use) of comparisons of photographs of the Ruth to the skull.

What I do not find is that before 1931 Hrdlicka – nor many others – were using forensics to identify would types and causes, at least in depth. That science was developing and had been for some time. But it was not yet common – and there is no evidence that Hrdlicka had any expertise in this specific field before 1931. Perhaps this is why Hrdlicka suggested that the holes in Ruth’s skull may have been made by a rifle or a shotgun—quite a disparity in weaponry.

I do not think anyone is disparaging Hrdlicka’s standing or his efforts. They must simply be put in the context of his day and his particular expertise – identification and classification of skeletal remains.

Being an expert in one field does not necessarily make one proficient in another. Being a recognized and applauded brain surgeon does not make one a competent archeologist, nor an authority on the pyramids.


T


PS: One thing that does intrigue me is Hrdlicka’s statement that:

“…a headless skeleton somewhat scattered over the ground has been discovered about three-fourths of a mile from where the skull has been found, and that the skeleton has been identified as that of Adolph Ruth by the presence of his watch, papers, and other personal belongings.”

As noted the first thing a modern forensic investigator pointed out to me was that that the fragile nasal bones were intact – thus the skull had not traveled very far by natural means – such as being washed around by flood waters, or rolling down a slope, or being carried by animals. If Hrdlicka thought the skull was Ruth’s and that the skull was found about three-quarters of a mile distant from remains why did he not comment on the unusual preservation and condition the nasal bones. One would think that given Hrdlicka’s expertise he would have been curious about it, identified it and queried it.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Potbelly Jim » Wed May 02, 2018 12:09 pm

Howdy Thomas,

Hope all is well out there!

Also, I hope you didn’t take my comment to Joe, (that people seem to have resented Hrdlicka held such a prestigious post) to mean you, or Don, or anyone else…I was referring to Joe’s observations about people during Hrdlicka’s time.

The weather data from the Phoenix area in 1931 (from NOAA website):
13 JUN 31: 102/68F
14 JUN 31: 104/66F
15 JUN 31: 106/71F
16 JUN 31: 103/69F
17 JUN 31: 101/70F
18 JUN 31: 103/70F
19 JUN 31: 104/71F

Also of note, precipitation on 11 NOV 31 was 1.41”…I think this was the “torrential” rains described by Kearney. As you know, in the Supes, that amount of rainfall would be extreme to say the least. Precipitation during the Mott/Halseth expedition which bogged them down in mud in Garden Valley was between .35 and .39” on both days, which is almost an inch of rain in two days…

The question is whether or not there was so much water that the skull could have been washed up on the “flats” on the other side of the canyon…personally, I doubt it. Gravity would have taken the water, and the skull with it, either down Needle Canyon or down into Marsh Valley…not up the other side to the north where the skull was found. Also, the skull was found on relatively dry land after two days of rain, about 1/2 the amount on 11 NOV…so it seems unlikely that heavy rains could have placed it there.

Regarding the “re-creation” of Ruth’s trip, I understand what you’re getting at. Personally, I wouldn’t even try it…too hot for me that time of year…how to replicate a 77 y/o with two hernias, heart trouble, a bum leg an inch shorter than his “good” one…that’s another issue entirely. Based on his letter home on the 14th, it seems that he was in no shape to take that journey, but who knows?

Thomas wrote:
If Hrdlicka thought the skull was Ruth’s and that the skull was found about three-quarters of a mile distant from remains why did he not comment on the unusual preservation and condition the nasal bones. One would think that given Hrdlicka’s expertise he would have been curious about it, identified it and queried it.
Are you considering Erwin Ruth’s letter to Detective Jones of March 8 1936? It appears Hrdlicka talked about this very subject with Earl Ruth:

“My brother, Earl A. Ruth…(who)discussed the matter several times with Dr. Hrdlicka, states that Dr. Hrdlicka very emphatically denies the theories that the holes in the skull were produced by my father falling over a cliff, by the skull being washed against rocks, or by animals. Heavy portions of the skull were broken out. If struck against rocks, lighter and frailer portions would break. Portions of the skull which animals gnaw, Dr. Hrdlicka says, were intact. Dr. Hrdlicka has wide experience in such matters, has witnessed executions before firing squads, afterwards examining the skulls, and knows the effects of different kinds of guns and bullets etc.” (Ruth, 1936)

Now I wouldn’t bet my life on the absolute veracity of the above, one problem I have is that firing squads generally aren’t such good marksmen that they take headshots…but I do know of one instance that Hrdlicka examined the remains of Yaqui’s that had been executed by Mexican troops. Perhaps there were other instances in other places he had seen such things as well. Anyway, it’s unlikely these Yaqui were lined up and executed with all the pomp and circumstance of a firing squad…in all likelihood, they probably did get a bullet to the head.

In the end, without any scientific data to back Hrdlicka’s conclusions, it’s now his word against anyone else’s. It boils down to whether we should believe him or not. Hrdlicka was not without faults, but from looking at some of his work, he seems very detail oriented and thorough. Personally, I take him at his word that Ruth was probably shot. Not that this gets us anywhere. :lol:

Best regards,
Jim
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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by Cubfan64 » Wed May 02, 2018 3:24 pm

Thomas - I think the idea of re-creating the route Adolph Ruth took to see how tough it really would be is an interesting one and honestly I feel like it was discussed briefly on one of these forums years ago but don't think it was ever done.

To me the more damning and intriguing information has always revolved around the "fragile nasal bones" still being intact. I would be interested in having other forensic experts look at the first photos of the skull and see if they would conclude the same thing - never hurts to have more than one opinion.

I've always felt that it was just too coincidental that the Garden Valley expedition happened upon that skull and that Brownie Holmes was helping lead and pack for that group. I'm not trying to implicate Brownie Holmes in having anything to do with Ruth's death because I have absolutely no evidence, but I feel like he knew that skull was there and that the skeleton wasn't far away and would be found with further searching. Was the skull and skeleton moved from where it was originally found for some reason and "planted" there knowing it would be found? Was it somewhere else for awhile where animals couldn't get at it and later moved - again planted where it was found just to end the saga and get people to stop looking for him and make it appear as though it was natural causes?

Always lots of questions with few if any answers.

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Re: The Legend of the Superstition Mountains

Post by don » Fri May 04, 2018 1:53 pm

if foul play was involved and murder considred necessary ,wouldnt it have been a whole lot easier to have just pushed Ruth over a cliff edge or something . that way it would have been assumed no foul play was involved..the murderers ,assuming there was 1 or more,could have walked away knowing murder wouldnt even have been suspected. beheading and /or shooting ruth in the head,then seperating the skull from the skeleton and depositing it some distance away makes no sense from a murderers point of view,unless of course he wanted to run the risk of being caught,or he was a ted bundy or ed kemper type of person.Though saying that barkley was described to me as having a psychophatic personality by a journalist on a pheonix publication a good few years ago now (this is where things usually go quiet i ve found lol)..ive no idea if its a truthful description or not by the way.as for whether or not ruth could have reached the spot because of his age,condition ,temperature etc is largely irrelevant..because he obviously did,unless you subscribe to the belief that he was transported ,either dead or alive ,to the spot his murderers deemed a "good location" ,good enough for what exactly? if the supposed murderers didnt want him to be found id have thought it would have been reasonabley easy to achieve that goal.....without lugging a skeleton and skull round with them,or taking him somewhere in order to cover up the murder.....that somewhere being a place where he would be ,and was found.....
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