The iron vessel allegedly discovered inside a block of coal from Wilburton (Oklahoma, USA)

The iron vessel allegedly discovered inside a block of coal from Wilburton (Oklahoma, USA)

A cup displayed at a private museum in southern Missouri was photographed by Robert Nordling, who sent a copy to the creationist Frank Lewis Marsh (1899-1992), emeritus Professor of Biology at Andrews University in Berrien Springs (Michigan, USA) on 10 January 1949. He forwarded it to Wilbert H Rusch (1913-1994) in 1966, who published an account in The Creation Research Society Quarterly 7 in 1971. Rusch was a Professor of Biology at Concordia College, Ann Arbor (Michigan, USA) and a founder of the Creation Research Society, for which he once served as President.

According to Rusch’s account, Frank J Kenwood (died 1968) of Sulphur Springs (Yell County, Arkansas, USA) made a statement on 27 November 1948 regarding the discovery of the cup in question:

“While I was working in the Municipal Electric Plant in Thomas, Oklahoma in 1912, I came upon a solid chunk of coal which was too large to use. I broke it with a sledge hammer. This iron pot fell from the centre leaving the impression mould of the pot in the piece of coal. Jim Stall (an employee of the company) witnessed the breaking of the coal, and saw the pot fall out. I traced the source of the coal, and found that it came from the Wilburton, Oklahoma, Mines.”

The usual problems of anecdotal evidence are seen here. No matter how certain Frank Kenwood might have been that the vessel was firmly embedded in the coal, might it not have been in some smaller pieces of coal that had become cemented together? Might it have been a joke perpetrated on a credulous worker by a more sceptical colleague (such as the only apparent witness, Jim Stall, of whom nothing more than a name is known)? Typically for this sort of artefact, much heralded by Creationist writers, the chain of evidence for its origin is not good.

Glen Kuban’s dissection of the iron pot