How The Crime Was Revealed

: Myths And Legends Of Our Own Land

In 1853 a Hebrew peddler, whose pack was light and his purse was full,

asked leave to pass the night at the house of Daniel Baker, near Lebanon,

Missouri. The favor was granted, and that was the last seen of Samuel

Moritz; although, when some neighbors shook their heads and wondered how

it was that Baker was so well in funds, there were others who replied

that it was impossible to keep track of peddlers, and that if Moritz
/> wanted to start on his travels early in the morning, or to return to St.

Louis for goods, it mattered to nobody. On an evening in 1860 when there

was a mist in the gullies and a new moon hung in the west, Rev. Mr.

Cummings, a clergyman of that region, was driving home, and as he came to

a bridge near old man Baker's farm he saw a man standing on it, with a

pack on his back and a stick in his hand, who was staring intently at

something beneath the bridge. The clergyman greeted him cheerily and

asked him if he would like to ride, whereat the man looked him in the

face and pointed to the edge of the bridge. Mr. Cummings glanced down,

saw nothing, and when he looked up again the man with the pack had

disappeared. His horse at the same moment gave a snort and plunged

forward at a run, so that the clergyman's attention was fully occupied

until he had brought the animal under control again; when he glanced back

and saw that the man was still standing in the bridge and looking over

the edge of it. The minister told his neighbors of this adventure, and on

returning with two of them to the spot next morning they found the body

of old man Baker swinging by the neck from a beam of the bridge exactly

beneath where the apparition had stood--for it must have been an

apparition, inasmuch as the dust, damped though it had been with dew,

showed no trace of footprint. In taking down the body the men loosened

the earth on a shelving bank, and the gravel rolling away disclosed a

skeleton with some bits of clothing on it that were identified as

belongings of Samuel Moritz. Was it conscience, craziness, or fate that

led old man Baker to hang himself above the grave of his victim?