<googlemap lat="40.525111" lon="-85.624577" zoom="18" width="300" height="300">40.524924, -85.62475, Riverside Ave Marion, IN</googlemap>
"The Dark Secret of 1930's Marion"
Lover's Lane was, for lack of better terms, the "Red Light" district of Marion.
This area, located off of modern day 38th St. and next to the Mississinewa River, was known for behavior that was frowned upon by many of the adults in Marion and the surrounding towns. In his book "A Lynching in the Heartland," Dr. James Madison stated that the area was "... notorious for 'petting parties' and 'jazz parties.' " (Madison, p. 68) It was connected to the area of town known as The Dark Secret. This legendary section of town was located near the old McBeth-Evens Glass Company. Newspaper reports dating all the way back to 1908 support the area's vulgar reputation.
"The Dark Secret Murder Mystery"
In the spring of 1924, 4 bodies were found buried in the area. The area, being notorious for taverns and bootlegging, was a main explanation for the sudden discovery of what the police deemed murders. "For in but a few cases was it ever known the fate of men who disappeared from the 'Dark Secret' " (The Marion Chronicle, May 9, 1924, p.21).
The first three skeletons were said to be "hardly decomposed" (Marion Chronicle, June 17, 1924, p.12) and gave testimony to the many happenings of the Dark Secret area during the gas boom. It was reported that there were many disappearances during those days, but no bodies had ever been previously recovered. The 4th was discovered when workers opened up a gravel pit near 33rd street. All four bodies bore no identifying marks and were brittle, showing signs of forced burial and blunt force trauma.
Lynching of 1930
On August 6th, 1930, a couple, Claude Deeter and Mary Ball, were parked at Lover's Lane, in the vicinity of the old McBeth-Evens Glass Company. According to news reports, the couple was ambushed by three black teenagers. They were held up and, in the process, Deeter was fatally shot.
Shortly after the shooting, Mary Ball enraged the community with the claim that she was raped. Her stories were doubted, due to what many called her "character issue." This issue is more likely to be truth due to the fact that she and Deeter were parked at Lover's Lane. Many people, both black and white, knew of Mary Ball and rumors circulated that she, along with Deeter and the three black youths, was part of a gang of robbers who ambushed travelers in that area. These rumors may have been a result of knowledge that they were known to frequent both the Lover's Lane and Dark Secret area.
1. Madison, James H.. A Lynching in the Heartland: Race and Memory in America. New York City: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003. Print.
2. NA. "Two Aged Veterans, After Drawing Pension Money, Take Part in Riotous Scene in Resort." Daily Chronicle, Marion IN. May 29, 1912: page 1, COl. 7.
3. NA. "The Dark Secret Again Gives Its Quota To The Law's Net." News Tribune, Marion IN. May 21, 1908: Page 1, COL. 5.
4. NA. "Started Trouble." Leader-Tribune, Marion IN. May 22, 1908: Page 3, COL. 4.
5. NA. "Skeleton in Gravel Pit back of 'Dark Secret' Starts Talk of Murder." The Marion Chronicle. May 5, 1924: page 1.
6. NA. "Two Skeletons Dug Up Add To 'Dark Secret' Murder Mystery Case." The Marion Chronicle. May 9, 1924: page 1, 21.
7. NA. " 'Dark Secret' Gives Up Bones of 4th Victim." The Marion Chronicle. June 17, 1924: page 12.
8. NA. "Fairmount Stirred By Negro Case." The Anderson Daily Bulletin. August 7, 1930: page 1, 12.
This page was created by Rett Huntington as part of the WikiMarion Lynching project for Mr. Munn, ACP U.S. History, 2nd semester project. This page is an extension of the wikimarion lynching project.