"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Newspaper Clipping of the Day



That headline pretty much says it all, but here's the rest of the story, as reported in the "New York Times" for July 28, 1856:
On Saturday night last, a man who resided in Twenty-ninth-street was killed in a most singular manner. The following are the peculiar circumstances, as far as our reporter has been able to learn them--for, in consequence of the opinion entertained concerning his relatives by the deceased, who was a man of considerable wealth and respectability, they have made great effort to keep the particulars from the public ear. It appears that nearly a year ago the deceased, who was fifty-three years of age, became strongly impressed with an idea that, when he should die, the parsimonious disposition of his relatives would lead them to put him in a cheap coffin, while he had a strong desire to be buried in one of polished rosewood, lined with white satin and trimmed with silver. Soon after this strange idea got possession of his mind, he discovered an elegant coffin in one of the principal warehouses, which suited him. He purchased it for $75; had it sent to his residence at nightfall, and stowed it away in a small closet adjoining his bed-room, where it remained until the time of the accident. How it occurred is not known to a certainty, for the first intimation the family had of the lamentable occurrence was from a servant, who, on going to call him to breakfast, found the door wide open and the deceased lying upon the floor, dead, with his coffin at his side. She screamed, which soon brought the family, and on raising the body the skull was found crushed in upon the brain. He was discovered about 8 o'clock yesterday morning, when, to all appearance, he had been dead several hours. On examining the closet, a bottle containing a quantity of sherry wine was found, and as Saturday night was excessively warm, he is supposed to have gone to the closet in order to procure the wine to use with some ice-water he had on a small table by his bedside. It is thought that he must have sought for it in the dark, and by some mistake upset the coffin, which stood nearly upright. Becoming sensible that it was falling, he probably made an effort to get away, when he fell, and the outer end struck his head with sufficient force to fracture his skull and cause almost immediate death. The inquest will be held with all possible secrecy. The unfortunate impression of the deceased concerning his relatives is a sufficient reason for withholding the names of the parties.

This story, of course, leaves one question lingering in all our minds, namely, "Was he buried in his killer coffin?"  This detail is lost to history, but I assume that was the case.

I'm sure the unnamed gentleman would not have wanted it any other way.

1 comment:

  1. If the relatives were as cheap as he feared, I hope a lawyer or someone else oversaw his funeral. Otherwise, his family may have cheated him out of what he wanted, anyway. It would have been interesting to know how he rewarded their behaviour in his will.

    ReplyDelete

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