Workmen engaged in making some excavations in Little Rock, Ark., made a discovery of much interest. What was apparently at one time a huge, rough oak box was unearthed, which instantly crumbled under the blows of the picks, and which to their utter astonishment revealed a considerable portion of a once gigantic skeleton. Some of the smaller bones had entirely decayed, but upon examination, traces of their former existence were plainly visible upon the sides and the bottom of the rude coffin. To attach still greater interest to the discovery, the grinning skull was encased in a heavy warrior’s helmet, while in the fleshless fingers of the right hand was clutched a long rust-eaten sword. From head to foot, the skeleton measured 7 feet 4 inches, which establishes the theory that its possessor must have been of remarkable size and strength, although no possible clue can be ascertained whereby an ultimate solution of the mystery surrounding it could be hoped for. Besides the helmet and sword, neither of which can serve toward revealing the identity of the strange personage who lay buried there, nothing else except the bones remained.
The removal of the bones from the ground was achieved with the greatest difficulty. Even when it had been accomplished with some degree of success, it was at once evident that they were too much decomposed for preservation. They crumbled as if they were ashes, and with the slightest pressure of the fingers were easily reduced to the substance of the finest dust. A portion of the skull was successfully removed and was given in charge of a local physician. The helmet and sword had also reached an advanced stage of decay. These were retained by the person upon whose premises the discovery was made, a Mr. Rixle, who has since disposed of them to a gentleman interested in scientific and historical research.
While absolutely no information has been obtained giving the remotest clue to the identity of this huge skeleton, the prior existence of this strange personage certainly antedates the period of definite historical record, which leads to the generally accepted belief that he was one of the number of early discoverers of the Mississippi and probably was buried in this spot described by his straggling band of companions, of which De Soto was possibly himself a distinguished member. There is no inscription on the helmet or sword that would aid in the discovery of the find.
The remains of a Spaniard who had marched with De Soto were huge in life.
- The World (New York, New York), January 4, 1898, Pulaski County