More Famous Dead

A few weeks ago I published on some famous dead individuals who had been exhumed for some reason or another. But those weren’t the only ones. A little more research, and some great suggestions from my readers, led to a second batch of celebrity exhumations. Admittedly, some of these aren’t research oriented or even a good reason for an exhumation!

1. Sammy Davis Jr.: We all remember the famous entertainer, whether it was as a dancer, singer, impressionist, comedian, actor or musical master of multiple instruments. In 1990, he died of complications with throat cancer, not too surprising since he smoked around 4 packs a day. He requested a closed casket so that he could be remembered as he was, and not as ravaged by cancer. When his wife found out that he was nearly bankrupt and owed thousands, she had him exhumed so she could take out the $70,000 worth of jewelry that had been buried with him. 19 years later she died and was buried next to him. (Via Examiner)

Bones of Bach from 1894 exhumation

Bones of Bach from 1894 exhumation

2. Johann Sebastian Bach: The famous composer died in 1750, and was buried at Johanneskirsche in an unmarked grave. During an expansion of the graveyard in 1894, archaeologists hoped to determine the location of his body and provide him with a more fitting memorial site. Documentary evidence gave little indication as to where he was buried, with clues like “The grave most likely was located within either the second or third section of the churchyard, but it also could have been in the first section.” A number of potential graves were selected for excavation. Based on the casket type, sex, height, age and cranial characteristics of the skeleton, they found what they believe are the remains of Johann Sebastian Bach. He was reinterred in the newly enlarged Johanneskirsche with a marked grave, but moved again to the Thomaskirsche when the first church was destroyed in WWII. (Via Bach’s Little Website)

3. Adolf Hitler: Hitler was known for being the Chancellor of Germany and a leader of the Nazi Party. When the Soviet Troops neared his hiding location he committed suicide with his wife in 1945. The body was placed in a bomb crater and set on fire, however there is debate over what happened to the skeleton. The Russians argue that they were reburied in Germany. These supposed bones were exhumed by the East German government in 1970 and properly cremated. There was doubt over whether he actually committed suicide, but a portion of his skull was found with a bullet wound in it. This piece was on display at a museum in 2000. However, further investigation of the fragment revealed that it was from a woman. (Via The Guardian)

Exhumation in 1901 of Lincoln's Tomb

Exhumation in 1901 of Lincoln’s Tomb

4. Abraham Lincoln: The 16th president was assassinated at Ford Theatre on April 14, 1865. Following this, the body began a long funeral procession from New York to Springfield, Illinois beginning on April 19, 1865. In 1876, thieves attempted to break into Lincoln’s tomb to steal his body. In order to prevent further attempts he was reburied in a cage ten feet deep and it was encased in concrete. In 1901 the tomb required repairs, and there was a debate over whether to open the coffin due to rumors that the body inside was not the president. According to the men who opened the lead coffin, the body was barely changed due to the great preservation and he was easily recognized as Lincoln. With the funeral train stops, attempted theft and final exhumation to rebuild the tomb, Lincoln’s body has been disturbed 17 times. (Via Lincoln’s Assassination)

5. Daniel Boone: Boone was famous for exploring the American West, and blazing the Wilderness Road, which went through the Cumberland Gap and into central Kentucky. He was considered a frontier hero. He died on September 26, 1820 and was buried next to his wife in Missouri in an unmarked grave. In 1830 the grave finally got a marker- although there are arguments it was the wrong one. In 1845, the bones were exhumed and moved to a cemetery in Frankfort, Kentucky. Given that the tombstone was over the wrong grave it is highly likely according to relatives that the bones moved were not the famous hero. In 1983, a plaster cast of Boone’s skull made from the Kentucky remains and it was thought they had characteristics of an African American- not Boone. Both graveyards in Kentucky and Missouri claim to have Boone’s remains. (Via Wikipedia)

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