Within a few hours of its unexpected delivery, a new donation to the Wayne County Historical Museum has already prompted more questions than answers.
The museum announced May 22 that it received an unusual package that was left at its back gate. No contact information was provided to identify the donor, and security camera footage didn’t yield additional clues.
Museum staff soon began calling the package “The Richmond Rat Boy,” although one local resident replied on the museum’s Facebook page that she sees more baby pig than rat in its head shape and face.
A note said the item came from the donor’s great-grandfather’s friend who worked for one of the circuses that frequented this area, most likely in the 1910s-30s.
Museum staff believe that Richmond Rat Boy looks to be made of plaster of Paris and clay over an armature. He is decorated with paint, animal claws and animal hair. His box looks to be made for his display.
They noted that because they already have some other strange things in their collection, they believe he will fit right in.
However, the photos of Richmond Rat Boy shared on the museum’s Facebook page quickly prompted a less enthusiastic welcome from those concerned the artifact might be something straight out of an “X-Files” episode.
A few of those responses include:
“Might need some liquid sage for that.”
“I’d put a motion-sensitive camera on it for a while … just in case.”
“Return to Sender.”
“Spawn of the devil?”
“This is the stuff nightmares are made of.”
“If it had a hatchet, then I would guess Alfred Hitchcock.”
“He’s almost cute, in a freaky demented way.”
“I’m gonna have to say … no. Just no.”
To the question, “When do I get to buy a Richmond Rat Boy shirt?”, local company Black Dog Printing responded with an illustrated shirt showing the creature with claws extended and “MISSING RICHMOND RAT BOY PLEASE RETURN,” and the museum’s name and address. Proceeds will benefit the museum.
On the serious side, because the box could have contained anything from abandoned kittens to a severed head, museum staff say they take precautions when receiving surprise deliveries.
A version of this article appeared in the May 31 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.