Way Down in the Hole

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You’d think 20 feet would be deep enough to bury a secret, but Cincinnati Mercantile Police officer Charles Dustin didn’t count on an archaeologist and some resourceful students from NKU putting the pieces together more than a hundred years later. Bob Genheimer, the Museum Center’s Rieveschl Curator of Archaeology, told us about some of the peculiar artifacts found in three downtown digs for Medicine, Marbles, and Mayhem: Unearthed Stories from 19th-Century Privies (at the Center through May 26).

Evidence Dump
“At 427 Chestnut St. just north of City Hall there was a whole bunch of Cincinnati police material. We had a uniform that had been tossed into the privy shed. There was a loaded gun. There was a rubber-and-metal stamp with the policeman’s name on it, medals, and a police whistle.”

Hello Officer
“He was Charles Dustin. We suspect he may have tossed this stuff knowing he was in trouble.”

Uh-oh
“On three occasions Dustin pulled his gun on other policemen. On one occasion he shot another policeman while he was guarding houses in Avondale. He ended up at Longview Asylum, where he was buried.”

Unresolved
“There was a .41 caliber loaded derringer, which only fires one shot, and .38 caliber Smith & Wesson ammunition as well. We ask the viewer to come to their own conclusions.”

Magic Remedies
“We found ‘liver invigorator,’ ‘alterative balm,’ pain meds…some of them have tincture of morphine. Some have cocaine derivatives, opium, some have ammonium in them. When you read the list of ingredients, it’s very scary.”

Now Seating
“It’s the one place where you can get away with throwing stuff away.”

Originally published in the April 2014 issue.

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