THE PETRIFIED MAN OF LEROY JUNE 4th. 1904
The 1 of a kind original copy of this photo is in a museum in California.My dear mother found it online and I contacted the museum.They were willing to make me a copy for a price so I bought it.They were quite happy to have the following story that tells us about the image.I dont not know who the men in the photos are(yet).
..As told by Mayor Jerry Davis to Helen Schwartz in 2004.Sometime in the mid 60's, the News Gazette has an article about some ladies from Nebraska who were trying to find a petrified man who was supposed to be buried around Champaign. The reason they were looking for it was the State of Nebraska was having their centennial and it was believed the petrified man was originally made by the first Governor of Nebraska, who also was a practical joker. As there were some archeologist in Nebraska looking for dinosaurs bones, the Governor decided to have a man made from concrete and went to the extra trouble to have real skeleton bones put in the arms. He had the man buried in the area of their diggings and when they uncovered the man, they first did not think the man was real so the Governor suggested they drill into the arm to see what would be found and to their amazement, they found real bones. The story went on to say, after all the excitement and numerous showings of the petrified man, the Governor became concerned he would be found out so he sold the man to a guy who took the petrified man on a road show across the US. At some point later, as the story goes, the traveling show was in the Champaign area and the local authorities were going to arrest the show owner as he was cheating the public with a hoax and ordered the petrified man to bury the man and leave town. It is believed at this point the man gave the petrified man to someone rather than having to bury it. That's where the story ended and the women were trying to either find the burial spot or track down the petrified man's so they could take it back to Nebraska for the centennial.
Now the LeRoy part...When I worked at Webb's, we were reading the Gazette article and several of the old timers said they remembered a petrified man who had been shown at local events and it was buried in Mildred Dye's back yard. They said after being shown at several fairs, it fell off the wagon and a leg got broken off exposing a reinforcement rod so that ended the shows for the petrified man. Somehow, it ended up in Mildred's yard (I don't remember who they said owned the property) and when they filled in the old water way in the yard (somewhere around the 30's) they pushed the petrified man in the ditch and that was the last time it was seen. If you remember George Rogers, he not only remembered the petrified man, he was there when they buried it. He told us what it looked like so we called the ladies in Nebraska and told them what we found. They confirmed George Roger's description as a cement man with one arm in the air to be the one they were looking for.
The ladies then came to LeRoy and we started looking for the petrified man. I asked Mildred if we could probe for the man and she said OK so Larry Golden, who was also helping at Webb's at the time, got a couple probes from the cemetery and we started looking. George went up with us and he pointed to where he thought it was but we did not locate the man. At that point, someone suggested we call Jean Dixon (the Chicago Psychic) and ask for her assistance. We called her and believe it or not, she described the location and told us it was located north of a peach tree about 30 to 40 feet. We told her we did not see a tree were in the area so we went back up and to our amazement, there was a small peach tree growing up just outside the old garage wall. It was very much in line to were George said it was buried. I will tell you however, Jean did think it actually was a petrified man. Anyway, to our surprise, Mildred told us we could no longer probe for the man. George Rogers told us he had talked to Mildred and she thought it may be worth a lot of money and ordered us off her property. We all thought that George may have given her that idea himself. He mentioned several times how the ladies were all Doctor's wives and appeared to have lots of money. At that point, the ladies, who were running out of time, went back and a fake was made of the petrified man to use in the parade...