The newspaper was dated some 22 years earlier, revealing when the death had likely occurred, and uncovered a woman’s troubling secret.
The Jan. 14, 1921, edition of the Grand Haven Tribune reported that the Zelzig family had lived at the farmhouse for the past 10 years, and that the baby’s remains were hidden by a family member of the previous owner.
Ottawa County Sheriff Del Fortney was made aware of the discovery. An investigation followed. The Tribune said the investigation “unearthed a story that is seldom equaled in fiction.”
At the center of the mystery was a well-respected, prominent woman who was a resident of Jamestown. Although her name was never released to the public, or media, investigators identified the woman, who, 22 years earlier, gave birth to a secret that she concealed.
Investigators located her by checking property documents that established the owners of the farmhouse in 1899.
When confronted with the discovery of the infant skeletal remains, the woman confessed.
Authorities at the Sheriff’s Office would not make public the details uncovered in the confession regarding how the child died, but did release a statement saying that there would be no charges filed.
“The investigation unearthed nothing which could possibly connect the woman with a crime punishable by law, or establish evidence on which a jury could convict,” the Tribune reported.
The circumstances behind the cause of the child’s death were never released and subsequent details about the woman were few. It was generally assumed by the public that the child was stillborn. And it was reported the woman had married some time after the incident.
At the time of the investigation the Tribune reported that the unidentified woman “is a good mother and wife,” and added that she “bears an excellent reputation in her community now.”
Rumors spread across Ottawa County as to who she might be, but her identity was never revealed.