Bridges crossing the Ohio River at Steubenville, Ohio. On the right bank and the West Virginia side was the location of the stone wall and mass graves within the cave.
History of the Pan Handle, West Virginia 1879
An Ancient Sepulcher
In the summer of 1834, one Samual Cummings, an enterprising stone-mason of Stuebenville, Ohio one day crossed the river to prospect along the ledge of rocks that line the hills on the Virginia side for a suitable place to quarry stone. In looking about he discovered a massive rock, that in some previous age of the world, had fallen from the overhanging cliffs above. While making an examination, with a view of quarrying it, he discovered an ancient stone wall built against one side of it, but almost hid from view by the accumulated rubbish of ages. Curiosity led him to throw this wall down, when an opening appeared in the rock a few feet from him, that disclosed a large cavern or vault scooped out of the underside of the rock, which, upon closer inspection, he found to contain a large number of human skeletons, packed together in perfect regularity. Visitors estimated the number at 75 to 100.
At the time of this discovery the proprietor of the land - Colonel Nathaniel Wells - lived several miles distant, and did not hear of it for several days. In the meantime, in the absence of anyone with authority to protect the place, visitors thronged to it by the hundreds, each one carrying away prominent portions of the remains, till they were scattered, as it were, to the winds. Thus were the remains of the dead, of a pre-historic race, dragged from the long repose of ages and ruthlessly destroyed, to gratify the idle curiosity of the ignorant and thoughtless.
The vault is located on the Virginia of the Ohio River, nearly opposite South Street, Steubenville, about 100 rods below Mr. Wells ferry landing, and a few east of the Pittsburgh, Wheeling and Kentucky Railroad.