Wood County Historical Center and Museum – Bowling Green, Ohio - Atlas Obscura
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Bowling Green, Ohio

Wood County Historical Center and Museum

Evidence from a brutal 1880s murder is on display at this former infirmary house.  

On the evening of October 10, 1881, German immigrant and farmer Carl Bach murdered his wife, Mary Elizabeth Myer Bach. Newspapers in the Ohio area reported that Carl, age 50, “chopped his wife to pieces in a most brutal manner, using a common corn cutter for his fiendish purpose.”

Asleep, the 42-year-old Mary was undoubtedly surprised by the attack. Still, the mother of three—who was pregnant with a fourth child—fought back. Blood marks on the couple’s log cabin window suggest she tried to escape by breaking through the sash. Moreover, the print of a bloody, fingerless hand on a nearby shelf indicates Mary tried to hold herself up while Carl, moving from one side of the room to another, beat and dismembered her.

Over the course of the evening, Carl severed three of Mary’s fingers, split open her elbow, and scattered pieces of her skull about the bedroom. All in all, the coroner counted 41 gashes across Mary’s murdered body.

The following day, Carl Bach walked to the police office and gave himself up. Police searched the Bach barn and found Mary’s dismembered body. Her three fingers were all that was necessary for evidence in Carl’s trial and ultimate death sentence. In 1883, at the Wood County Courthouse, Carl Bach was hanged for his wife’s murder. Bach’s is the last such execution held in Wood County, Ohio.

For more than a century, Mary Bach’s fingers—along with Carl Bach’s corn cutter, tickets to his execution, and the noose on which he hanged—have been on public display at the Wood County Historical Center and Museum. But recently, the museum staff has reconsidered this macabre exhibit and the context in which they’ve presented it over the years. As a result, Mary’s fingers are no longer consistently on display, so call before you make the trip.

Know Before You Go

Other obscure items in the museum include a pheasant shot by Hollywood star Clark Gable, Victorian hair-art, a permanent wave machine from 1927, and grade school charts from 1880. The Museum hours are: Monday through Friday, 10 AM to 4 PM and Saturday through Sunday from 1 PM to 4 PM, Call ahead in winter months, as the museum may close during inclement weather.

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