2008-10-02 / Local & State

Pa. Skeletons Likely Odd Fellows Relics

COCHRANTON, Pa. (AP) - Decades-old skeletal remains found in the abandoned stairwell of a home in northwestern Pennsylvania likely belonged to a fraternal lodge that once occupied the property, a coroner said.

Crawford County Coroner Pat McHenry has been investigating the remains found Sept. 16 by a man renovating a bathroom in his grandparents' home in Wayne Township.

McHenry discussed the remains with other coroners at a recent state conference who told him of similar finds in buildings formerly used by the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Leland Dorchester of Cochranton told the Meadville Tribune that the home where the skeletons were found housed an Odd Fellows lodge until the late 1960s.

The international group was established in North America in Baltimore in 1819, according to its Web site. Calls to its headquarters in Winston-Salem, N.C., were not immediately returned Saturday.

Don Stallard told the newspaper that his former lodge in Conneaut Lake used the skeletons as symbols of lifetime membership.

The Odd Fellows used to buy skeletons from medical schools or other legal outlets, but now use plastic replicas, McHenry said.

McHenry said he continues to study the remains to confirm there was no trauma or foul play. If McHenry rules that out and can't identify the remains, he'll seek a court order to donate them for use by forensic science students at Mercyhurst College in Erie.

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