A Head in a Paper Bag

At one point in the investigation, an anonymous source close to Brecheisen agreed to leave a macabre piece of the looter’s collection on the latter’s property. Investigators found a paper sack against a tree in Brecheisen’s yard – inside was the head of a U.S. trooper from the Apache War era. Later, government archaeologists would learn that this soldier was a former slave named Thomas Smith. The young Kentuckian had survived slavery, the Apache, and Jim Crow racism only to die of dysentery while serving his country. Over a century later, investigators and archaeologists pulled Pvt. Smith’s head out of the paper sack that had been left on the ground.

“That’s a helluva way to treat a soldier,” observed a Reclamation archaeologist.


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