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Workers Unearth Civil War Coffin


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#1 Camille

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 03:04 AM

Not necessarily ghostly, but I thought this was a neat little article.

Construction workers in D.C. inadvertently dug up a Civil War coffin recently.

Workers stored it in a warehouse, while deciding what to do with it. Sadly, the coffin was broken into shortly after they found it.

Check it out, including the photo slide show:

http://www.nbc4.com/...555/detail.html
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#2 MoonChild

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 03:15 AM

Ever imagined such incidence unveils somethings that we see in the movies? :o
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#3 freyjasdottir

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Posted 10 April 2005 - 02:37 PM

Interesting, makes just another reason to head back that way
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#4 DukeofBoogie

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 06:19 AM

Where on the site is it?
http://www.facebook....59567008?v=wallhttp://www.cdbaby.co...eblackriverboyshttp://www.zoarcivilwar.com/In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays.....Spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! The shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into thier soles.-Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain


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#5 MoonChild

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 08:23 AM

Where on the site is it?

What do you mean? The link open ths article. :unsure:
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#6 earth_spirit

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 01:53 PM

It took a minute or two, but I finally found the link to the slideshow . . . Thanks, Camille! This reminds me of an article I read in Smithsonian magazine many years ago about a similar coffin - circa 1867- found in the southern US. The researchers at the Smithsonian were even able to track down the manufacturer of the coffin by searching through mail order catalogs of the period. I suspect the one in this article is probably from the same company.

If it looks a bit odd (kinda like a mummy case) it's because the coffin is made of lead!

Yep, the body was placed inside the coffin and soldered shut. Supposedly, the body in the one the Smithsonian found was remarkably well preserved . . .
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#7 DukeofBoogie

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Posted 11 April 2005 - 10:54 PM

This morning I just got a blank page with the stuff on top. But It works now. too tired to read it right noe though.

Very interesting. I'd like to see the body(well, skeleton) if they ever put those pics up.
http://www.facebook....59567008?v=wallhttp://www.cdbaby.co...eblackriverboyshttp://www.zoarcivilwar.com/In great deeds something abides. On great fields something stays.....Spirits linger, to consecrate ground for the vision place of souls. And reverent men and women from afar, and generations that know us not and that we know not of, heart-drawn to where and by whom great things were suffered and done for them, shall come to this deathless field, to ponder and dream; and lo! The shadow of a mighty presence shall wrap them in its bosom, and the power of the vision pass into thier soles.-Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain


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#8 earth_spirit

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Posted 13 April 2005 - 01:27 PM

I did a little online research, DukeofBoogie, but I wasn't able to find anything on the Smithsonian article I read. I'll keep trying, though, as it was really interesting.

I noticed that the online article is up and running again, so I browsed the slideshow one more time. As I was reading the article it occurred to me that the construction crew's actions were rather irresponsible (and disrespectful!) I'm curious as to why the coroner or at least the police weren't notified.

I couldn't believe it when I read in the article:

"They put it in the building at the construction site for safekeeping for the night, but it was anything but safe."

"Somebody broke in and smashed the plate that covered the coffin ... I don't know, looking for money or jewelry or something like that," construction supervisor Randy Boyd said.

The casket has since been moved to an undisclosed location.


Duh! A mortuary or funeral home might have been appropriate. I'm surprised they didn't just toss the coffin in the dumpster or sell it for scrap metal :weeee:
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#9 Guest_Ghostbuter20_*

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Posted 08 May 2005 - 10:04 PM

What could one possibly gain from breaking into a civil war-era coffin? Besides, don't you think they should've placed it in a safer area the FIRST time?

#10 earth_spirit

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Posted 04 August 2005 - 11:35 PM

The National Museum of Natural History has finally examined the body:

http://news.yahoo.co...sc/iron_coffins
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#11 freyjasdottir

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 06:39 AM

Scott,

Not sure how that fits in with the topic.

Earth Spirit,

I saw that this morning and guess where I'm going at the end of the month.
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#12 Oniix

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 10:28 AM

EWll there is always a lot of possibilties for very old personal items such as jewelry, to be in there. These kinda of things can be worth quite a bit of money to somone who is desparate.

#13 earth_spirit

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Posted 05 August 2005 - 11:14 AM

Earth Spirit, I saw that this morning and guess where I'm going at the end of the month.

Hmmm . . . would I be close if I said "the National Museum of Natural History?" :hug:

Along these same lines, I also found an article on an archaeological analysis the Smithsonian did on a similar coffin excavated in Pulaski, Tennessee in 2002 during the relocation of a family cemetery. It's pretty interesting stuff if you're a student of archeology or American funerary customs.

http://www.nmnh.si.e...2003_chang.html

I'd also like to apologize for the misinformation I initially passed on in the first part of this topic. The coffins--or "metallic burial cases, as they were called--were actually made of cast iron, not lead, and they were not soldered shut. The upper and lower portions were fastened together by screws passing through flanges that bordered the line of intersection. A cement of a putty-like consistency (composed of equal portions of ground white lead and dry red lead mixed with pure, boiled linseed oil) was deposited in a groove running around the flange. Lamp-black was sometimes added to the cement to darken the color. The upper shell was then pressed into the lower and screwed down by degrees until the screws were tight. The cement hardened within a few hours.

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The first patent for a cast iron coffin was awarded to A.D. Fisk in 1848 The first two models that Fisk manufactured were in the shape of a sarcophagus, ornamented with faux drapery, and often displayed floral designs. Other dealers, such as W.M. Raymond and Company of New York and Chicago, and Crane, Breed and Company of Cincinnati, obtained licenses to produce the Fisk Metallic Burial Case. They began doing so in the early 1850s and subsequently introduced many modifications.

Fortunately, copies of Fisk and Crane's 1858 catalog are held by the Cincinnati Historical Society, and Crane’s 1867 catalog is held by the Columbus Historical Society. Those catalogs and price lists suggest that Fisk's and Crane’s Patent Metallic Burial Cases preserved the body, protected it against water, against vermin, safeguarded against contagion, and facilitated relocation of the remains.

The Fisk Model 3 was introduced in 1854 and an improved form of it was patented in March of 1858. Because the sarcophagus-shape and gaudy ornamentation of the Models 1 and 2 were repugnant to many, this new cast iron burial case was roughly torpedo-shaped (expanding to permit an increase in width from the head to the area at which the arms folded across the body and narrowing again to the feet), and featured straight, smooth sides. It was entirely devoid of the appearance of folded drapery and lacked ornamentation. A version that became popular was covered with an imitation rosewood finish that was applied to the surface like a decal or wallpaper. The Model 3 remained in production well into the post-Civil War period. It was available in 17 sizes, from 29.5 inches long by 9.5 inches at the widest point, to 80 inches long by 21 inches wide.

Additionally, the coffins were rather pricey and could only be afforded by the wealthy. In a day and age when a pine box cost $2-$3, a Fisk coffin (depending on the style) cost anywhere from $50-$170.

Edited by earth_spirit, 05 August 2005 - 11:24 AM.

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#14 Rockhauler2k1

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Posted 07 August 2005 - 11:37 AM

Hi earth_spirit,

Ever see the Elliott Map? It shows breastworks and rifle pits, graves of Union and Confederate soldiers, "dead horses" reads and streets, relief by hachures, vegetation, drainage, houses and names of residents. I actually printed a version that had to be put together in sections and checked out how Gettysburg is today verses during the war. Its pretty interesting stuff. Does the amount of paranormal activity match the burial spots? Not really , but it does give one the idea of the amount of death and the way things were handled in the day.

The modern art of embalming was born of the Civil War and all its death and of the need to preserve bodies for interment from the inital spot of burial to the family plot .

I find the process of death and burial or disposal very interesting . It helps us to better understand the process of transition from here to where ever it is we go after we expire.

Here is the link to the Map...

Elliott Map

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Edited by Rockhauler2k1, 07 August 2005 - 11:38 AM.

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#15 earth_spirit

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Posted 09 August 2005 - 04:57 PM

Thanks for the updated picture, Voyager (and welcome to GV.) Was there a link to a news article that went with it? I'd be curious to find out the results of the archeological analysis and autopsy.

Rock, I finally got around to viewing the Elliot map (it's been crazy here at work this week) and was amazed at the detail. I'd definitely keep a copy on hand for ghost hunting at Gettysburg (one of these days!)

You're right about modern embalming techniques starting up during the Civil War. I think just every Civil War buff has seen the famous photo of Dr. Richard Burr demonstrating his new found art on one of his clients:
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Burr is credited with designing the basic structure of modern embalming practice, the concept of arterial embalming, in which the corpse's veins are filled with a chemical preservative in the place of blood.

In the Civil War, the vast majority of victims had bled to death, so this was simply the path of least resistance. Burr and others like him injected the chemicals through the armpit.

Civil War-era embalmers experimented with arsenic, creosote, mercury and even turpentine as their preservatives of choice. But the next great step in the modern mortuary sciences was the invention of formaldehyde in 1868.

During my research I discovered some interesting facts as well--things like how arsenic from Civil War era cemeteries is being absorbed into the soil at such an alarming rate that it's actually creating an environmental hazard in some areas of the country by contaminating local water supplies.

Also, getting back to the Fisk Metallic Burial Cases, I discovered that an adult size case weighed nearly 300 pounds!!! After all, they were made of cast iron. But when add the weight of a 175 pound man to it, look out! Before you know it, you've got six pall bearers with hernias . . .

Edited by earth_spirit, 09 August 2005 - 05:42 PM.

The true meaning of life is to plant trees under whose shade you do not expect to sit -- Nelson Henderson Not A Ghost Of A Chance -- The Story Of My Three Years At The Imperial Casino Hotel <-- Click Here For My Personal Website




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