In many of the ancient burial mounds of West Virginia, several “giants” were found in years past. Other large skeletons were found in the early days of coal mining, and more were found as people were excavating the ground for other purposes.
One of the first reports of a giant occurred in 1774 when Jack Parsons was walking along the recently flooded Cheat River. When he noticed some bones protruding from the ground, he pulled a femur from the soil, and when he compared it to his own, it was seven inches longer.
He then removed the rest of the bones and laid them out, estimating that it would have stood about eight feet tall. Other settlers also found gigantic skeletons in the area, which was soon dubbed “Giant Town.”
In 1838, when amateurs excavated the Grave Creek Mound in present-day Moundsville, West Virginia., they were said to have found giant human skeletons inside that were as long as eight feet.
In the 1850s, a root cellar was being dug in Palatine (East Fairmont), West Virginia. Here, workers uncovered two very large human skeletons, said to have been more than seven feet tall. Several people saw the skeletons, but that night, the bones were stolen, assumed to be sold on in the lucrative market of “Indian relics,” which existed at the time.
In 1857, the Western Literary Messenger reported that the skeleton of a giant had been found, stating:
“A day or two since, some workman engaged in subsoiling the grounds of Sheriff Wickham, at his vineyard in East Wheeling, came across a human skeleton. Although much decayed, there was little difficulty in identifying it by placing the bones, which could not have had belonged to other than a human body, in their original position.
The impression made from the skeleton itself was measured by the Sheriff and a brother in the craft locale, both of whom were prepared to swear that it was 10 feet, 9 inches in length. Its jaws and teeth were almost as large as those of a horse. The bones are to be seen at the Sheriff’s office.”
In 1875, when workers were constructing a bridge near Paw Paw Creek’s mouth at Rivesville, they uncovered three giant skeletons with strands of reddish hair clinging to their skulls.
A local doctor was called to examine the remains, who determined that they were human and estimated that the skeletons were approximately eight feet tall. Afterward, with exposure to the air, the bones deteriorated rapidly.
In 1882, amateur archaeologists F.M. Fetty and his wife were exploring an unusual rock formation along White Day Creek in Marion County when they found what appeared to be a shelter. On closer examination, they discovered that a false wall had been erected, and after removing several large stones, they found a huge ancient mummy sitting in a chair. The giant was surrounded by stone and flint artifacts.
In the summer of 1883, James A. Faulkner unearthed a gigantic human skeleton in the same area. Dr. Samuel Kramer of Smithtown was called in and measured this skeleton, which was found to be 7 feet 4 inches long, and deduced that it belonged to a person who was almost eight feet tall.
That same year, the Smithsonian Institution dispatched a team of archaeologists to the Criel Mound in South Charleston. Led by Colonel Lewis Morris, the team conducted extensive digs of some 50 mounds in the area and issued a detailed report.