Episode 20: The Mystery of Old Mike

In the summer of 1911 an unidentified man died in the town of Prescott, Arkansas. With no ID and no way to find his family, the town undertaker put the man’s body on public display for over 60 years. Who was this man? And why did it take 60 years to bury him?

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Photo: FOX 24 KFTA

On August 20, 1911 a tent revival meeting was held in the city park of the railroad town of Prescott, Arkansas. That night, an unassuming man was seen in the crowd. He was familiar to locals who recognized him as a drifter who passed through town from time to time.  Usually, his visits were short. He would move on to a new town. 

After the revival meeting ended, the man rested in the grass and leaned against a tree. This would be his last night on earth. Sometime during the night, the man died. 

The next morning a woman who worked at a local hotel in town was walking through the park when she found his body under a tree. She alerted city officials who took the body to Prescott Hardware Company, which housed the city’s morgue. The coroner examined the body and ruled the man had died of a heart attack. The answer to how he died, was simple for the folks in town. But the answer to the question of “who was he” turned in a mystery that has lingered for over 100 years.

Episode Sources
“Prescott’s Mysterious “Old Mike” Explained.” KARK Fox 24
“Mike.” Nevada County Depot and Museum. http://www.depotmuseum.org/articles.php?article=25 (accessed May 13, 2011).
Nichols, Mike. “The Mystery of Prescott’s Ol’ Mike.” The Old Time Chronicle. February–March 1996, pp.10–12, 42.
Old Mike Documentary film, produced by 2009/2010 film class at AR School for Mathematics, Sciences and Arts

Music Credits
Theme Song “Dark & Troubled” by Pantherburn. Special thanks to Phillip St Ours for permission for use.

Additional Music
Nicolai Heidlas “Letting Go”; Nicolai Heidlas “Beyond”; Kevin MacLeod “Wounded”, “Mesmerize”, and “Cryptic Sorrow”; Whitesand “Passage” Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution

Categories: Arkansas, history, mysteries

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