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Creepy Cattle on Display – Brookville

The Samuel Spitler House in Brookville has been preserved for posterity as a charming example of erstwhile architecture, showcasing magnificent staircases, original oak woodwork, elaborate fireplaces, and the first indoor bathroom in Brookville (which Mr. Spitler, a miller and plumber, installed in 1894). All of its rooms have been restored to their former glory, and the outside has been meticulously painted green and cream, the colors that originally graced the house.

What’s weird about that, you ask? Well, amidst the Victorian charm and preservationist details, a truly bizarre tale is lurking. Those seeking weirdness need only tour the Spitler House basement for a peek into sideshow history.

The Spitler House basement is home to Andy D-Day, the remains of a famous freak bull, and his companion the Two-Headed Calf—or, as touted by the Brookville Historical Society on the Darke County Genealogical Researchers website, “Rare Animals.” These stuffed bovines stand as a testament to what some people will do for money.

When the two-headed calf was born on the farm of Wilbur and Nettie Rasor in 1941, he became an immediate tourist attraction—despite dying soon after he was born. The Rasors, quick to catch on, had the two-headed wonder stuffed and charged curiosity-seekers a dime to see it. One of those passersby told the Rasors of a freak bull he owned in Arkansas, complete with four horns, four eyes, and two functional noses. The Rasors traveled to Arkansas to see the (still living) bull, and knowing a good thing, purchased him and brought him back to Brookville.

“Andy D-Day” (so-called because he was said to have been born on June 6, 1944) was put on display with the two-headed calf and the Rasors increased the price of admission to a quarter. New housing was constructed for the bull and his stuffed friend, and the Rasors sold picture post-cards of the two to visitors (savvy businesspeople to a fault, the Rasors did not allow photos!) In addition, they took the pair on a traveling circuit of sideshows in Florida and other states, until Andy D-Day died in 1956.At that time, Andy’s head was stuffed and mounted, and the Rasors kept both he and the two-headed calf until 1976.

Finally, they were dontated to the Brookville Historical Society and wound up in the basement of the Spitler House museum—sequestered a comfortable distance from the rest of the home’s genteel artifacts and furnishings.

These days, the animals are not quite the attraction they were in more innocent times, and the Brookville Historical Society does not do much to shout of their existence from the rooftops. In fact, it seems even many people in Brookville are unaware of their current basement habitat. However, the museum has recently re-created the building where they were kept on the Rasors’ farm, and the basement is just one more stop on the tour of the Spitler House. Should you visit, expect to get your dose of non-weird history along with your freak show encounter; the museum presumes that visitors want to see all that it offers. So stop by the Spitler House while in Brookville—an experience that ranges from the sublime to the ridiculous under one historic roof.

The only problem with the Spitler House is that in never seems to be open. The museum is scheduled to open to the public the first Sunday of every month...weather permitting. We’re not sure how the "weather" is a factor, since the displays are located indoors, but we've visited on bright, sunny first Sundays and the place is still locked up tight. Truth be told, Brookville is pretty much a ghost town these days, so we recommend calling first to make sure the museum is open before you head out to rustle up a few (extra) head of cattle.

Weird Ohio

 

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