Unearthing Rare Coffin

1 decade 1 year 4 months ago Thursday, May 03 2007 May 3, 2007 Thursday, May 03, 2007 6:57:55 AM CDT May 03, 2007 in News

MU's Anthropology Department took a look inside.

It's not a funeral or Halloween, but one coffin is the center of attention. Grave diggers in Lexington, Missouri unearthed a 150 year-old mystery, and now they've turned to MU to solve it.

When grave diggers start digging, they normally know what to expect dirt. But at Machpelah Cemetery, they found one empty grave wasn't empty.

"As we proceeded to dig the grave, we hit the cast iron coffin," said Don Coen with Machpelah Cemetery.

And it's not your everyday coffin either.

"In those days it would have been a very expensive item... It cost anywhere from 75 to 100 dollars," said Coen.

In the 1850's, an ordinary casket cost $2 to $3. The Stewart family owns the land, but neither they nor the cemetery have records of who is in the grave. They sent the cast iron coffin to MU where the anthropology department will lend its expertise.

"Just open it up and look and see what's in there," said Daniel Wescott with MU anthropology department.

Wescott found the cast iron coffin is incredibly rare, only produced between 1849 and 1853.

"Well this is the only one I know that's been at MU, and there's only been maybe a dozen of these actually opened up and studied," said Wescott.

And this is the farthest west in the USA cast iron coffin has been discovered. Students made preliminary analysis and cleaned the coffin to prepare for the grand opening.

It's not in the best condition, but what do you expect after 150 years underground.

Lifting the cover and getting inside the coffin was the easy part.

Now the hard part begins. Students and faculty have to dig through the remains, and figure out who this is.

Dr. Wescott leads a team of five students who analize the coffin, the skeleton, and other remains. The actual identification process requires a number of tests including DNA analysis at a cost of $1,200, and a stable isotope analysis costing $400.

The team recovered nearly the entire skeleton and put it back together. Wescott also discovered remnants of clothing, shoes, and a full head of brown hair.

"We can actually do a toxicology on the hair to look at cocaine and nicotine and stuff like that," said Wescott.

Each student does their part. It's not about the grade on this final exam. After three weeks of research, the team concluded the coffin's inhabitant is a young woman between the ages of 25 and 30 who died of natural causes.

The research will continue for months, and Wescott anticipates to make an ID by the end of the summer.

When the team completes its research, the Stewart family will return the remains to the grave site. Wescott hopes the coffin itself will be put on display.

More News

Grid
List
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Emissions near a troubled St. Louis County landfill once posed health concerns for workers and nearby... More >>
14 minutes ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 5:02:52 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
JOPLIN (AP) — Missouri Southern State University has abandoned plans for a dental school that would've operated in partnership with... More >>
25 minutes ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 4:51:59 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Some St. Louis police officers are still struggling with injuries more than a year after protesters... More >>
33 minutes ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 4:44:27 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia police said a fifth arrest has been made in connection with an alleged homicide on Sylvan Lane... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 3:50:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Police arrested a man early Friday after reportedly finding him outside an apartment complex, looking into a... More >>
1 hour ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 3:27:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
KANSAS CITY - The Missouri Western District Court of Appeals ruled Friday to allow the Clean Missouri Initiative to stay... More >>
2 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 2:53:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – MU is one of only two Southeastern Conference universities to experience double-digit growth in new freshmen, while several... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 1:12:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
SPRINGFIELD - President Donald Trump is set to campaign at the JQH Arena for U.S. Senate candidate Josh Hawley,... More >>
4 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 12:43:00 PM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The University of Missouri Board of Curators announced a resolution Friday supporting the University of Missouri-Columbia's efforts to... More >>
5 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 11:23:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - 82,000 Americans are still missing as the result of our country's biggest wars. POW/MIA Recognition Day is... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 10:59:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Columbia Planned Parenthood clinic will stop abortion services after Oct. 1 following a court ruling allowing the... More >>
6 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 10:20:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump challenged the woman accusing his Supreme Court nominee of sexual assault by name Friday,... More >>
7 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 9:31:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
FERGUSON, Mo. (AP) — The daughter of an 84-year-old woman with dementia alleges in a lawsuit that... More >>
8 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 8:45:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
VIENNA - 27 year-old Anthony Macclugage has been charged with endangering the welfare of a child, felony Domestic Assault and... More >>
10 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 6:22:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — Attorneys general from West Virginia and 10 other states are asking the U.S.... More >>
11 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 5:34:37 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
(CNN) -- From January 2016 through February 2018, puppies sold at six pet store companies led to infections in 118... More >>
12 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 4:26:41 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - Missouri's Stop Human Trafficking Coalition's 2018 conference is taking place this weekend and is a reminder that... More >>
14 hours ago Friday, September 21 2018 Sep 21, 2018 Friday, September 21, 2018 2:54:00 AM CDT September 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - MU's School of Health Professions will be crafting a new curriculum starting Friday after the MU Board of... More >>
21 hours ago Thursday, September 20 2018 Sep 20, 2018 Thursday, September 20, 2018 8:04:00 PM CDT September 20, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 68°
6pm 71°
7pm 69°
8pm 66°
9pm 65°