Every now and then, I come across some old newspaper story where I simply don't know what to say about it. I just post the damn thing, and move on.
This is one of those times. The (Racine, Wisconsin) "Journal-Times," February 17, 1897:
A story is related about a man who said of his married life: "The first year I thought so much of my wife I could have eaten her; the second year I wished I had."I was unable to learn if Mr. Francefort predeceased his hungry helpmate, or if such was the case, she actually went through with her desire to turn a loved one into a condiment. If she did, what came to my mind was: everything we eat eventually leaves our digestive system as...
The marital experience of Mrs. Matilda Francefort, of 8 State street, Brooklyn, has been different. For thirty years she and her husband have lived together, and during that time they have been separated only for brief intervals. Having been together in life, Mrs. Francefort does not intend to be separated from him in death, providing his demise occurs first. "I have fully resolved to have my husband cremated," says Mrs. Francefort, "and instead of burying the resulting ashes or scattering them to the winds, I shall use them as I would spice in seasoning my food."
The idea is original with Mrs. Francefort. She is a vivacious French woman, of a lively disposition, and is not at all disposed to ponder over gruesome topics. She is prepared to defend the idea of transforming her digestive apparatus into a cemetery with good logic. "I think it is a beautiful sentiment," she said, "and I believe that I set a good example to many other wives who secure divorces from their husbands. I love my husband and we have always lived together happily. Recently his health has not been good and I have been forced to think what I would do if he should die. I did not like the notion of burying him. The Idea of putting him in the ground was repugnant. Then it occurred to me to have his remains cremated, and afterward, like an inspiration, I thought that the ashes could be disposed of most suitably by using them to prepare my food. If used in small quantities they cannot possibly hurt me, and in that way we shall always be together, and we will ultimately be one in fact as well as in name."
"So you do not think that the ashes will be injurious to your health?"
"No, Why should they be? Fire purifies, and such things as microbes, which cause many of the ills of this life, could not exist in ashes produced by the tremendous heat of the crematory. I shall keep the ashes as sacred and will use only small pinches, precisely as I would pepper or spice when preparing my own food, or that of a few intimate friends. It seems to me that this is a much more satisfactory way to dispose of the remains of one I have loved during life than it would be to bury him in a grave and leave him as food for the worms."
"What does your husband think of the plan?" asked the reporter.
"He knows nothing about it," she confessed. "Anyway, when the plan is put into use he will be unable to object. I do not think he would care. anyway, and I believe he will like the idea. I certainly would be pleased at such a proof of devotion from him should I die first."
The ashes which result from the cremation of a corpse weigh from four to six pounds, depending on the size and formation of the body. Men usually furnish more ashes than women, and the spare, bony man leaves more residue than the fat one. It will thus be seen that Mrs. Francefort will secure enough ashes to fill several spice boxes, and if she uses it sparingly, as she says she will, the ashes of her husband will serve as seasoning for some months, or even years. It is the bones of the body that make the ashes. The flesh, which is composed largely of water, completely disappears, and even the clothing is consumed.
Should Mrs. Francefort survive her husband, and thus be enabled to put her plan Into operation, he will have the strangest sepulcher ever accorded to a human being in a civilized country. It will be a species of cannibalism with an up-to-date tinge that is without a parallel. Eating ashes for seasoning is not so original with Mrs. Francefort as one might think. The American Indians of Western New York, before the advent of the white man, had very little salt, and as a rule used white wood ashes on their meat in its place. Some of the early explorers tried this custom and say they liked ashes as well as salt. But human ashes are a different experiment and must first be tried.
Oh, Matilda. What a rude fate for your husband.