Boots Farm Skeleton

From Kook Science

The Boots Farm Skeleton was an alleged giant skeleton that was claimed to have been excavated from a gravel pit at the farm of Franklin Boots near Center Township, Indiana in 1883, described in a newspaper report of the Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, Illinois) as having been estimated to have been some 9 feet (2.74 m.) in height on the basis of skull dimensions. The initial reporting was later discredited by a local physician, Marcellus Martin Adams, who reported that the finding was of only "a few fragments" and that the "cranium was not larger than the average of the modern Indian," suggesting a height closer to 5 ft. 8 in. (1.73 m.).

Dramatis Personae

  • George Arnold, farmhand who excavated the remains;
  • Franklin Boots, owner of the gravel pit in which the remains were found;[i]
  • R. J. Strickland, editor of the Greenfield Jeffersonian, later possessor of the remains;
  • Marcellus Martin Adams, the debunking doctor;
  • John Collett, the Indiana state geologist;

Press Coverage

  • "There Were Giants, &c.", Ottawa Free Trader (Ottawa, IL): 3, 1 Sep. 1883,, "George Arnold, a farm hand, in the employ of Franklin Boots, who lives about 15 miles west of the city, made a discovery which has excited widespread interest in the county. The object of the interest is the skeleton of what once was a man of gigantic proportions, which was uncovered in a gravel pit on Mr. Boot's farm. The skeleton was found in a sitting posture, facing east, and about six feet under the surface. Some of the bones were badly broken by a caving of the bank, but the skull and some of the larger bones were taken out intact, and from them may be easily realized the gigantic stature of the being of whom they once gave support. A measurement of the skull from front to rear, the rule passing through the eye socket to the back of the head shows it to have been about sixteen inches, while the breadth of the inferior maxillary was eight and one-half inches, showing that the brain must have weighed, four and half to five pounds. Careful measurements of the other bones establish the fact that the man, when alive was not less than nine feet in height and of large proportions. From the appearance of the teeth, which are very large, and do not show the slightest sign of decay, although they are worn almost to the bones of the jaw." 
  • "The Bones of the Giasticutis.", Indianapolis Journal (Indianapolis, IN): 8, 5 Sep. 1883,, "Dr. Collet, the State Geologist, who spent two days and several dollars trying to find the giant skeleton which it was reported had been unearthed near Shelbyville, yesterday received a letter from Dr. M. M. Adams, of Greenfield, in relation to the matter. There seems to have been some mistake in the geographical location of the alleged monstrosity, which it is now claimed is in the possession of R. J. Strickland, editor of the Greenfield Jeffersonian. Dr. Adams, at the request of Dr. Collett, investigated the matter, and in a letter received from aim yesterday he says: 'There are a few fragments of a skeleton' found in a gravel pit on Mr. Boots's farm, but not of a giant, by any means. The size of the cranium was not larger than the average of the modern Indian, nor do the fragments indicate that the person was above five feet eight inches in height. The whole thing is a giant fraud and an imposition on the credulity of the people."" 


  1. Franklin Boots is found in the 1880 U.S. Census,, as residing and prospering in that area of Indiana, where he owned a large property some miles from the town of Shelbyville, closer to and outside of Greenfield in Center Township. In an almost certainly unrelated aside: Boots's first wife, Elizabeth, would sue him for divorce in 1895; coverage of the court case linked the marital breakdown to her enthusiasm for spiritualism (and for a Spiritualist well-digger employed by Boots, one Horace Comey). "The husband claims that for some time past a party of spiritualists have been holding meetings and seances at his residence, and that his wife's mind has become unbalanced by the excitement in connection with the mysteries revealed at these seances." Refer to: ,  ,  ,