Wednesday, September 2

Her Nightmare Was True, Her Son Had Been Buried Alive

Grave digger

In the 19th century cholera was a disease that terrified parents. For decades, the almost always fatal infection swept across the United States, leaving hundreds dead in its wake.

In 1865, five year old Maxie Hoffman, contracted cholera. The doctor did his best, but there was no cure. Maxie died three days later.

His young body was placed in a pine coffin and was buried only a hundred yards from his home, in the country cemetery.

On the night after his death Mrs. Hoffman woke sweating and screaming in panic. Her husband reached to console her as she sobbed and told him of her vivid nightmare.

"It was Maxie ... in his coffin," she stammered. "But, oh, dear God, he was alive!" She collapsed against her husband. "He ,,, he was trying to get out. I saw him. His hands were under his right cheek. He was twisted. Oh! He's alive ... I know it," she wailed. "We must get to him."

Mr Hoffman thought the nightmare to be  the result of the obvious strain they had been under. He told her that Maxie wasn't alive, and digging up his body would only add to her sorrow,.

However, Mrs Hoffman's dream reappeared the next night. The details were the same as the night before.  She saw Maxie twisted in his coffin, his small hand clenched tightly under his head.

This time, her husband agreed to her pleadings. He sent his eldest child to a neighbour's house for help. Together the men exhumed Maxie's body. Mr Hoffman believed this was the only way to persuade his wife that her son was dead, as horrifying as the experience would be.

It was past one o'clock in the morning when they raised the coffin from the earth. As Mr Hoffman prised the lid off, his wife huddled, frightened behind him.

A gasp arose from her throat. Maxie's body was twisted to the right side, his hand was clenched under his right cheek - just as she had seen in her dream.

The child showed no signs of life but his father still scooped him up into his arms and rode off on his horse to the doctor, the same one who had declared him dead two days earlier.

Reluctant at first, but the doctor did what he could to revive the boy. Unbelievably he heard a very faint heartbeat ... minutes flew by and, after an hour, the doctor was sure the boy would live.

Finally the boy opened his eyes.

Within weeks Maxie was back to full health, and didn't remember anything of his 'death'. He went on to live a full life in Clinton Iowa and died at the age of 85.

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