Discovery of a Man Who Dwelt Under Ground in the Woods Rather Than Enter a Work-House

Some hunters looking for rabbits in the woods in the town of Newtown, near the northern part of Jamaica about a week ago, were suddenly startled by hearing a strange noise underground, and immediately after a bare-headed man rose literally out of the earth only a few feet away. The hunters, who were greatly frightened at the strange apparition, took to flight, and did not slacken their pace until they reached Middle Village, where they informed Officer Bunting of the occurrence, and returned with him to the spot, under the impression that they had discovered a robber’s den.

On reaching the place the men discovered a square hole in the ground, about the size of an ordinary roof scuttle, descending through which they found an apartment dug in the earth, about ten by five feet in area, and five feet high. There was whom the hunters had seen, and proved to be a stout-built German, who could scarcely speak English enough to render himself intelligible. Nothing was found to indicate that the man was leading an unlawful life, and his own explanation was that he lived there rather than go to the poorhouse, and for three years had spent his Winters in this underground abode, although in the Summertime he worked for the neighboring farmers.

The only light in the place was from the entrance, and but dimly revealed the peculiarities of this singular abode.

The walls were of clay, and the roof had been formed by laying timbers across and covering them with dirt and leaves. On one side was a low bunk, covered with dirty bedclothes, and at the far end was an improvised stove of brick, in which a fire was burning and on the hearth was a pan of some kind of food. When the trap was shut not a ray of light could penetrate the aperture, and the only means of ventilation was through the stovepipe.

Subsequent investigation, made oath to and by an interpreter, proved that the man’s name was Chrisdorf Koerner, who six years ago was a German soldier.

When he first came to this country he made his Winter residence in another piece of woods in Jamaica township, but finding the place a resort for chicken thieves, and fearing implication with them, he four years ago made the excavation for his present residence, which he has occupied every Winter since, preferring it to the County Poor-house, of which, it appears, he had one Winter’s experience. He has worked in the Summer for a Mr. Backus and other farmers, and in this respect his story is confirmed by those parties.