On a balmy summer day in June of 1929 a man was discovered deceased in a ditch near the intersection of 3C Highway and Borum Road in rural Sabina, Ohio. He was taken to Littleton Funeral Home where he was examined and embalmed. It was estimated the man was between 50 to 80 years old.
The mysterious man, who no one recognized, appeared to have passed away from natural causes as there were no visible signs of trauma. He had no identification on him, but there was a single sheet of tablet paper with the address 1118 Yale Ave. Cincinnati, in his pocket. Cincinnati Police were dispatched to the address and found it was a vacant lot. The closest residence to the Yale Avenue address belonged to a man named Eugene Johnson so from that point on – the John Doe was given a name – they called him ‘Eugene.’
Eugene’s body sat at the Littleton Funeral home where an employee had the idea to dress him in a suit and prop his body in a nearby outbuilding on the property with the hope someone would recognize him. There he would remain for more than thirty years, until 1964 in fact, unidentified.
Eugene became quite a tourist attraction in the small town and locals estimate he was viewed by 1.5 million people over the years. The funeral home even kept books where visitors would sign in to see Eugene. At one point his body was stolen by college pranksters and taken to a party at Ohio State University. His exploits weren’t limited to a frat party, however, according to an excerpt from a local Sabina historical website:
“Eugene was a famous figure back then, especially at Halloween. He often appeared on the front porches of homes (with a little help from his friends) and terrorized more than a few houses. Some of his fingers were missing but he was kept well dressed in his black suit and had a rather serene look of composure on his face.”
Fortunately after these ill-conceived “adventures” Eugene was returned and placed back in his little building, awaiting identification. Sadly that day never came.
Finally, on a cool October day in 1964, he was given a proper burial. It was Mr. Littleton, the owner of Littleton Funeral Home, who purchased a lot in the Sabina Cemetery and took care of all the expenses associated with his burial. He was fitted with a brand new suit and a custom headstone that bore the single name, Eugene.
After all the years and countless unknown escapades, the man they called Eugene was never identified. He did manage to make quite a name for himself, albeit posthumously. Eugene, a true legend of a little Ohio town. After all, dead men tell no tales. Or do they?
Clark, James L. The Most Famous Guy in Sabina. Weird US
Myers, David. Seen by Many, Known by None: Eugene Buried After 35 Years. Sabina News Record. Oct. 22 1964
Parks, Neal. Alternate Universes, Time Travel and the Unexplained. 2016