Unearthing Rare Coffin

1 decade 2 years 2 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
JEFFERSON CITY -- Businesses affected by April's severe storms, tornadoes, and flooding will have the opportunity to apply for loans.... More >>
1 hour ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 6:27:00 PM CDT July 17, 2019 in Continuous News
COLUMBIA - Temperatures are expected to remain dangerously high after a severe weather alert was issued by The National Weather... More >>
2 hours ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 6:03:00 PM CDT July 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Boone County deputies arrested a Columbia man who pleaded guilty to trespassing at two area schools. Kelvin... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 3:53:35 PM CDT July 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA – Day two of the MU-Beagle Freedom Project continued today in Boone County Circuit Court. Money is at... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 3:40:00 PM CDT July 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - MFA Inc. is shutting the doors to five of its Agri Service centers, including locations in Columbia and... More >>
6 hours ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 1:25:00 PM CDT July 17, 2019 in News
BOONE COUNTY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol identified the driver in a deadly crash Wednesday as 32-year-old Antoinette Knight... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 8:51:00 AM CDT July 17, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Mizzou football player Tre Williams will serve two years unsupervised probation after he pleaded guilty to peace disturbance.... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, July 17 2019 Jul 17, 2019 Wednesday, July 17, 2019 8:25:00 AM CDT July 17, 2019 in News
ST. JAMES — Local businesses have come together to support the St. James youth football team after someone broke into... More >>
21 hours ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:25:00 PM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — The Missouri State Emergency Management Agency requested Tuesday that the Federal Emergency Management Agency expand the federal disaster... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 7:18:00 PM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — A stolen vehicle case turned into a chase across multiple counties for Callaway County deputies. In a... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 6:29:00 PM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The summer months are a busy time for air conditioning companies, but especially this week with excessive heat... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 5:27:00 PM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — Missouri State volleyball coach Melissa Stokes has been placed on paid administrative leave while the university... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 2:31:00 PM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Police say a semitrailer's computer data says it was going above the speed limit when it slammed... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:48:00 AM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — Columbia police officers are working with the city’s park rangers to increase patrols in city parks after several... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 10:08:00 AM CDT July 16, 2019 in Top Stories
STURGEON- The annual Boone County Fair kicks off Tuesday, and will host a variety of events from Tuesday to Saturday,... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 9:56:00 AM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The National Weather Service is predicting the heat index to get up to 109 degrees Wednesday. Columbia... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 9:46:00 AM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Former Missouri swimming coach Greg Rhodenbaugh is no longer working for the university and a Title... More >>
1 day ago Tuesday, July 16 2019 Jul 16, 2019 Tuesday, July 16, 2019 9:13:00 AM CDT July 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA — A drug bust by Moniteau County deputies ended with one suspect in the hospital on suspicion of a... More >>
1 day ago Monday, July 15 2019 Jul 15, 2019 Monday, July 15, 2019 9:32:00 PM CDT July 15, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 73°
9pm 83°
10pm 81°
11pm 80°
12am 80°