Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

Saturday, a young couple entered the museum carrying a box like one that held French-fried potatoes. In it was a small obviously charred, black object, maybe 3 inches long and two inches wide. Justin, a museum supporter from early on carried in the box and said, “We didn’t know what to do with this, but felt like someone should know.” Museums often see strange and unusual items brought in for identification. This was something different. It was a dead Eastern Box Turtle, commonly called a Terrapin, burned atop a grill in our Riverfront Park. Its badly charred head was present, but the legs were burnt away. So difficult seeing a baby animal, so horribly treated. Realizing it could be animal abuse, I called the Brandenburg Police. Officer Mitchem, (if I spelled his name correctly) patrolling the area, responded in minutes.

I told him I felt it should be reported, knowing there are laws protecting animals including Fish and Wildlife. Officer Mitchem photographed the dead animal and took photos of several adult examples in our Natural History exhibit. He said the Police take animal abuse seriously, especially by children, because this behavior, can escalate later, to include human beings as children grow into adulthood. As a historian, I can validate that.

There is a Civil War example of child cruelty, intensifying to include adults as the child aged. William Clarke Quantrill, a C.S.A. Captain of the Confederacy, later became a Confederate guerrilla in Kentucky. Born June 31st, 1837, in Canal Dover, Ohio, as a child he caught live snakes and nailed their heads to trees. He watched interestedly as they died. On a cold winter Sunday, when he was about 12, he locked a 5-year-old girl, in a church belfry not telling anyone. He watched delightedly and silently, as the searchers sought her rescue. She was finally found after dark, suffering from the cold. Later, as a teen, he went to a farm when the owners were away and painted their milk cow red. The farmer returned later but before he could get the paint removed, the animal died. It was after this he was asked to leave home. He traveled to Illinois where he shot a man to death in a lumber yard. There were no other witnesses so he was released. He then joined some rustlers that included renegade Indians from Kansas. During the Civil War, that saw cruelty on both sides, Quantrill and his Raiders were noted for killing unnamed soldiers.

If this “is,” animal cruelty, I hope the Brandenburg Police catch those responsible in time for professional help.

Gerry Fischer

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