Joplin’s flamboyant James “Jimmy” H. Worth, who was known to periodically advertise for a wife, announced to the Joplin News-Herald that he was returning to his farm in Franklin County, Indiana, to solve a mystery. Worth, in addition to his property in Indiana, was the eccentric owner of the Worth Block which is now the site of Spiva Park at the northeast corner of Fourth and Main streets.
Worth’s one hundred and fifty acre farm was planted in cherry, apple, peach, and pear trees. Perhaps more notable was the large cave located on the farm which, according to Worth, “ticks, ticks, ticks, just like a monster clock, day after day, year after year.” Previous attempts to explore the cave beyond three hundred yards ended prematurely due to bad air which Worth said made “one’s breath come in painful gasps.” But the bad air was not enough to stop at least one brave creature from calling the cave home.
Worth claimed “a big bear that escaped from a wrecked train ten miles from my farm once took refuge in the cavern and for weeks the natives of Franklin County enjoyed daily bear hunts that netted them nothing, for the big brute was successfully concealed in the far corners of the cave, the ominous clock-like ticking, apparently, holding no horrors for his bearship.” It was later discovered and removed from the cave.
Jimmy asserted his belief that the ticking noise was not the result of dripping water as the cave was reportedly dry. Instead, he claimed that the cave was the artificial construction of “cave-dwellers centuries ago” based on broken flint projectiles, bones of animals, and what Jimmy thought was a “deformed human skull.” He declared he would find out what types of bones were in the cave and discover the source of constant ticking.
If Jimmy did find out what caused the ticking noise, the News-Herald must have found his explanation dull, as it failed to report Worth’s findings.
Source: Joplin News Herald