Death By Tombstone

Originally posted on The Dead Bell:

Green Hill Cemetery, Danville, VA

Anyone who’s ever spent time working with grave markers can tell you that even a small headstone can weigh in excess of 100 pounds, so it makes sense that throughout time at least a few people have been the casualties of gravestone-related accidents. Take into account the popularity of large, ornate monuments and headstones during the Victorian period and the danger of being crushed by a toppling tombstone increases to an almost frightening level.

The National Republican [Wash., DC]  20 Nov. 1879
Burlington Free Press [VT] 21 Nov. 1856
Marion Daily Mirror [OH] 30 Dec. 1909
The Washington Times 27 Sept. 1920

Two-year old John Borovicks visited his father’s grave with his mother and three siblings on a regular basis. While everyone else prayed, John passed the time by climbing on a nearby lamb-shaped tombstone (probably marking the grave of a child). Despite his mother’s…

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"That Horrid Corpse Kept Looking At The Girls"

Originally posted on Misc. Tidings of Yore:

Sometimes you really can’t improve upon the original headline, which is the case with this story from the Spokane Press (Spokane, Washington) on April 6, 1908. It seems that a group of female employees were more concerned with having a laugh at the view of a sheeted corpse at a nearby funeral parlor, until the sheet was removed. That’s when things took a turn for the hysterical.

     “A score of hysterical girls who wrung their hands, cried and mussed up their hair and pointed in terror out the back windows Saturday afternoon caused the men employees of Jodoin and Davids to rush gallantly to the girls’ workroom and there witness a sight which caused them no wonder at the mental and physical condition in which they found the young ladies.
     Lying in plain view from the store windows they could see the cold, stark remains of…

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Panic! At the Funeral

Originally posted on Misc. Tidings of Yore:

The majority of funerals that I’ve attended have been somber, solemn events that thankfully went as smoothly as could be expected without chaos and destruction. (Well, there was that one time I walked into a nest of baby ticks, but I didn’t make a big deal out of that.) In most situations, I always imagine the worst case scenario. For example, what if the casket fell over during the service? Here are some examples of send-offs gone array that are much worse than a toppled corpse (even though that would be very, very traumatic.)

Evening Public Ledger [Philadelphia] 26 Feb. 1916
In Chalfonte, Pennsylvania, the floor underneath a crowd of funeral attendees collapsed. Mrs. Abram Garges in the casket with about 100 guests fell, barely escaping a descent to the cellar. “A panic followed. Women and children cried. One woman was temporarily deranged.”
Somehow no one was hurt.
Bemidji Daily Pioneer…

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Funerals Interrupted by Lightning


There’s also plenty of deathly goodness and weird news over at Misc. Tidings of Yore, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Originally posted on Misc. Tidings of Yore:

Crittenden Record-Press [KY] 17 Aug. 1911 (1)
Crittenden Record-Press [KY] 17 Aug. 1911 (2)

The San Francisco Call, 1 Sept. 1895

Evening Star [Washington, DC] 29 July 1906
The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Sept. 1905

The Evening World [NY] 27 May 1902

Crittendon Record-Press [KY] 28 Aug. 1913
Omaha Daily Bee, 30 Aug. 1911
St. Paul Globe, 11 May 1904
St. Louis Republic, 20 July 1900

The Washington Times, 25 June 1902

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More From Danville National Cemetery

In November 2013 I wrote about Civil War prisoners who died in Danville’s prison camps or military hospitals. While I’m far from being finished with the task of photographing and researching these Union and Confederate soldiers’ backgrounds, here are a few more of their stories. The majority of the men in this post also died in Danville’s military hospitals from diseases caused by or worsened by their deplorable living conditions and medical care.

Continue reading More From Danville National Cemetery


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