Mackay Mercury and South Kennedy Advertiser   Saturday, August 13, 1873

This article is titled: BURIED ALIVE

With all the reverence due to the dead, and with every possible regard for the feelings of the living, which in no way would we harrow up unnecessarily, we state, and believe, that not infrequently there are instances where human beings are buried alive! To be sure this is an uncommon, but by no means in impossible, circumstance, as facts have shown. Beneath the earth in the various graveyards of the land may be further evidence of this kind. In cemeteries that have been dug over, and the remains of the dead exhumed, there have been found in coffins, nailed and screwed tightly together, bodies of skeletons that were turned over on their sides and faces, sometimes with the knees drawn up, the joints distended, the hands clenched, the arms thrust against the coffin's narrow sides, the fingers twisted in the hair of the head, the eyes glaring, the teeth ground together, the head doubled under, and many indubitable proofs that the last death struggle did not take place before burial. But that after the coffin had been laid away in the shades of the tomb or lowered in the deep, solid earth, then and there a fierce, agonizing, desperate, lonely and helpless contest for life was waged unto exhaustion!


In the old public burial ground in the city of Brooklyn, when a general exhumation was made to enable the ground to be diverted to streets and building lots, the writer saw no less than eight of such instances.  One of these was evidently that of a young bride, dressed in wedding garments of the richest white satin, with a bridal veil, and ring of a costly style and quality, and all the evidence of wealth, refinement, and station of life. The remains were supposed to have been buried about twenty years previously. The coffin-plate was gone, and, in the really indecent haste of the heartless contractors and brutish laborers, who ruthlessly tore and tossed the relics up, there was not the faintest clue to identify. But upon examination it was discovered that the skeleton was twisted and displaced (as no shock of the exhumation could have caused), and the garments grasped as in a vice in the clenched finger bones, showing conclusively that a terrible struggle had taken place in the last narrow house and home of the lonely, youthful, early loved and lost bride. Even the long raven tresses, which were as glossy and perfect as ever, were bit fast in the fleshless teeth as though with the final despairing, smothered cry and gasp of death! 

Numerous instances of a similar nature have transpired in different places. A most heart rending instance of this kind has just been reported at this office.  The information appears to be truthful, and the circumstances narrated appears probable.


On Thursday of last week a colored man died (or was supposed to have died), and great lamentation was made over his body by the relatives and friends. The corpse was laid out, the limbs composed, the eyes closed, and the features were exceedingly natural. As is sometimes the custom, the so-called mourners were provided with victuals and intoxicating liquor, which they plied themselves, with until surfeited and drunk. Noisy and indecorous demonstrations, of grief, were -made until the third day (Saturday), when the brother of the supposed corpse became incensed at the disgraceful proceedings and determined to bury it at once.  The other folks remonstrated, declaring that the body was yet warm and perhaps not dead. But he insisted as he said, because he would prefer to bury it than have a continuance of the shocking demonstrations. Accordingly, the remains were deposited temporarily in a receiving vault.

Yesterday the vault was opened and the coffin brought out for permanent burial elsewhere, where, it was noticed that the strong screws which had been tightly driven in three days previous were strained, and the top of the coffin prized half open. Tremblingly, and with the most dreadful  anticipations, the box was opened, and horrible — most horrible to relate the body was found turned and twisted over, the face downwards, and hand clutching the hair of the head, and the other reaching out,  with the nails driven into the wood; the teeth clenched the eyes glazed and distended, and even the feet giving evidence of having been used in the last hopeless and frightful effort to escape suffocation! Those are the facts as narrated. the name of the victim was Andrew Dow.-New York Tribune, March 29.

Glen Innes Examiner and General Advertiser Tuesday November 15, 1881

This article is titled: BURIED ALIVE (Part 2)

A case of burial before death was made known in Santa Fe recently, or at least evidence of the probable occurrence of that shocking mistake leaked out and reached the reporter's ears. Some time ago this paper published an account of the sudden death of a man named Reed at the Grand Central Hotel, which event was supposed to have been the result of suicide.

The body of the man was found in the bed of the rooms at 12 o'clock on a Sunday night, by the clerk of the hotel, who happened to go into the apartment. It was to all appearance lifeless, but there was no sign of violence, and no evidence indicative of the manner in which the supposed dead man come to his end. He had been perfectly well, as far as could be learned, on the day before, and under the circumstances, it was concluded that he had committed suicide.

The chief of police, a physician, and two others were called in during the day and arrived at the same conclusion. Reed had no money on his person, although he had a large amount of it on the Sunday night preceding his death, and the county authorities took hold of the matter and had him buried. Four or five days afterward relatives of the deceased reached Santa Fe and prepared to disinter the remains and remove them to the east. They procured a metallic coffin, had the body taken up, and on Friday morning left for the East with the charge.

The man who was employed to take up the coffin told a number of persons that when he had done so and removed the lid, he was startled and completely unnerved by the sight which met his gaze. The body was lying on its side, with the hands drawn up as far as it was possible to set them with the lid of the coffin closed, and the forehead of deceased was bruised and cut. On the coffin, there was blood, as if the deceased had struck his head frequently against the board in a vain effort to push it off.

The man who had discovered this had himself laid the deceased out, made the coffin and placed the body in it, and he remembers distinctly that the hands of the corpse were then clasped over the chest, and when the lid was closed the deceased lay straight on his back. When the friends of the dead man discovered these facts they determined to keep the matter quiet, and left for the East without saying anything about it, and it was not until they had left that the carpenter who opened the coffin made known his shocking discovery. — The Santa Fe Mexican.

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