Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Barrel Lady

Julia Jordan was 46 years old in October of 1940. She had put an add in the paper Oct. 2 seeking employment as a housekeeper. A man named Christopher Walls answered her add and hired her. With in two weeks they had fallen in love. On October 25, 1940 the two were married. Just 4 short days later Julia would be murdered and found stuffed in a barrel jackknife style on the corner of Jennings Avenue and St. Clair. She had been suffocated.

Accused of the crime was one Frank Cascio, 55, of East Liverpool. He had had a relationship with Julia for about 2 years and it didn't work out. He was very jealous of her relationship with her new husband and was heard talking about wanting to kill her. When she did end up dead, he was the first suspect. However, her case is unsolved to this day. All the evidence they had against Mr. Cascio was circumstantial. A button from a shirt, though no buttons were missing from his shirt. A flashlight under his pillow that looked like one that Julia had. The most incriminating evidence was a ring. Her wedding band was missing when she was found. In his pocket was a wedding band, but there was no inscription in it. Just the words 14 ct gold. Her daughter said it looked liked Julia's. However, the judge said there was 1000 just like it. People had heard Mr. Cascio say he wanted to kill her for getting married to some one else. But again, no one saw him do it. He died in 1961, and is buried at Spring Grove.
Below is a pic of my mom standing at the corner of Jennings and St. Clair. The hillside is overgrown, but we look down the side and wonder where exactly the barrel containing Julia's body might have been discovered.

Since I learned of her case, I have been trying to find her grave. No small task, let me tell you. Records were not always so carefully kept. She was sent to Martins Funeral Home , and in fact that is the place her autopsy was done. Back then they would embalm the body before the autopsy (the same thing was done with Mr. Floyd. I had thought it was suspicious to do that, but apparently it was common practice back then.) I called and talked to Martins and they said she was buried in St. Als Cemetery, according to their records. I also talked to the East Liverpool Health Department, and looking at the death certificate, they said yes, she was buried at St. Als. St. Als rectory says they have no record of her anywhere. According to the cemetery books at the library, Julia Costello (her maiden name) Wall is buried at Spring Grove Cemetery. If she was buried there, she has no grave stone, and since they have such poor records, I may never find her. She is all but forgotten. She was just beginning a new life and it was ripped away from her. Now she is known simply as the Barrel Lady. What a cruel fate.

My efforts to find her have included reading all the news paper articles I can find. In the forties, the Review, as we know it today, was called the East Liverpool Daily Review. Copies are found on microfilm. Reading through these can eat up a lot of time fast. From all this I learned Julia had two children- James Jordan, and Mary Catherine Jordan, who was only 16 at the time her mother was murdered. From what I can understand, James was married, but her name was not given, nor was her ex husband's, at least that I have been able to find so far. Her death certificate says her parents were Catherine and Patrick Costello. So, you would think that would be easy to follow. Nope. The only Catherine Costello I can find died in 1905. She was 55 when she died, making her born in 1850. She is in St. Als also, and at first I was hopeful that Julia might be near her, but Catherine has no headstone either. The only Patrick Costello I can find was born in 1886. He died in 1947 and is in Columbiana County Memorial. The numbers do not add up because he was only 8 when Julia was born (1894). As for her husband, Christopher Walls, he lived in Smith Ferry, in PA. He was 64 when they got married, but I have no idea when he died or where he is buried. Not anywhere around here though. I looked.
So, Julia is either in St. Als, though they have no record of her, or she is in Spring Grove, and they have no records period. Bummer. I spent two days tracking all this down. I also got some help from a lady name Sharon Hall. She is a Find-A-Grave volunteer. She is currently working on Spring Grove Cemetery. For more information on this, please check out
Julia Costello Jordan Wall is buried in one of those two grave yards. If any one knows where she is(hopefully her actual grave!) or knows a family member who can help, please email me. Her story should not be forgotten because she was worth a moment of your time.