Friday, January 23

The Bizarre Body Snatchers Coincidence

US Presidents William Harrison & Benjamin Harrison
US Presidents" William Henry Harrison (9th) & Benjamin Harrison (23rd)
John Scott Harrison holds a unique status. He was both a son and a father of US presidents: William Henry Harrison (1773-1841) was his father and Benjamin Harrison was his son (1833-1908).

John Scott Harrison died on May 26, 1878 and unintentionally became the centre if a bizarre happening. He was buried in an Ohio cemetery with little fuss or pomp - other than for his coffin that is. It was made of heavy metal to defend his body from the body snatchers. These were the robbers who operated at that time and made money by supplying 'fresh' corpses to medical schools. It was a profitable business.

Harrison's family were particularly worried about this because the body of a young cousin, August Devins who had died the previous week, had been stolen by these robbers.

To make sure this couldn't happen to John Scott Harrison, As well as being laid to rest in an extra strong metal coffin, his grave was dug much deeper than usual and was walled in brick. When the grave was half filled a heavy stone slab was lowered onto the packed earth and this was then covered with cement.

Once his father was safely, and securely buried his son set out to find the body of August Devins. He, along with a friend and a policeman, started their search at the Ohio Medical College. Nothing was found and the trio were ready to move on and continue looking elsewhere.

As they were leaving they noticed a small door halfway up one of the walls. They opened this and found it to be, what the medical students called, a 'dead shaft'.

When they looked down the shaft they saw a man's naked body hanging far below on a rope.

They thought they had found what they were searching for: the body of Devins. They retrieved the body by pulling it back up the shaft. But the face they saw was not that of Devlin's - it was the face of John Scott Garrison, who had been buried just three days earlier!

By an weird coincidence, almost to the very hour that he was discovered in the 'dead shaft', visitors to the cemetery also found that Harrison's grave had be broken into. The body snatchers had carried out their trade.

John Scott Harrison was reburied in his extra deep grave. This time he remained in peace.

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  1. I never learned this in American History class! Pretty strange situation.

    1. I imagined you would have heard of this.

  2. How very odd. Their precautions didn't help then.

    1. No the precautions didn't help - where there's a will, there's a way!

  3. American history overlooked this! Very bizarre story.

    1. I suppose it's not the sort of thing that would have been in normal history teachings.