Driftwood: Murder of an Unknown Child 1859

Murder Victim

Unknown Child
Cause of Death: Drowning
Motive: Infanticide

Murder Scene and Date

Bennett’s Ford
Flood Creek
Rudd Township
Floyd County, Iowa
August 20, 1859


By Nancy Bowers
Written September 2014

location of Rudd, Iowa

location of Rudd, Iowa

In the late 1850s, from their vantage point at Bennett’s Ford on Flood Creek in Rudd Township, the family that gave the crossing spot its name could observe western-bound emigrants passing through Floyd County, Iowa.

On Saturday, August 20, 1859, Mrs. Bennett went as she regularly did to haul water from the creek. That day, she heard noises which she thought were made by a cat or kitten.

She eventually went to check out the source of the sounds. What she found was a small, drowned child hidden in drift-wood at the water’s edge. Its clothes were stuffed into a hollow log nearby.

Mrs. Bennett took the child to her home and informed neighbors, who followed the trail of a wagon which had recently passed through; they arrested the occupants for murder.

The suspects claimed that the child fell out of the wagon into Flood Creek and drowned. They said they stashed the body in the debris because they could not afford a proper burial.

Because the evidence was all circumstantial, the travelers were acquitted in court, released from custody, and allowed to continue their westward journey.


Please note: Use of information from this article should credit Nancy Bowers as the author and Iowa Unsolved Murders: Historic Cases as the source.



  • ☛ “Criminal,” History of Floyd County, Iowa. Chicago: Inter-State Publishing, 1882, p. 983.

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