Being buried alive is an idea the terrified a lot of people. Some people have actually had to deal with bring buried alive.
“Premature Burial and How it May be Prevented” is a book that has stories of the people who have been buried alive on every page. Many of the people describe the stories as ones that are “more frightening than any horror film.”
In the 18th and 19th centuries, premature burials (people buried alive) were so common that safety coffins were created. The coffins were created with a mechanism would allow the person to signal that they were still alive.
One of the stories in the book is about Madam Bluden. She “died” in 1896 and her family buried her in the family vault at the Holy Ghost Chapel in Basingstoke, England.
The family vault was located under a boys’ boarding school. The day after Madam Bluden’s “death” the children hear strange noises and told their teacher.
Madam Bluden drew her last breath just as the coffin was opened. The students were horrified by what they saw once the coffin was open. The young boys were exposed to the fact that as she was running out of air. Madam Bluden in her agonizing attempts to get out of the coffin has torn at her face and bit the nailed off of her fingers.
In 1871, 17 year old Mary Best contracted deadly cholera and suffered tremendously. A doctor treating her declared her dead and she was quickly buried in a vault in Calcutta’s French cemetery in an effort to slow down the spread of the disease.
When Mary’s uncle died ten years later, they discovered that Mary has been buried alive. When the undertaker looked into the vault, the lid that had been nailed shut on Mary Best’s coffin was on the floor.
Mary’s skeleton was partially out of the coffin and the right side of her skull had a large, ugly fracture. Her clothes were torn and the fingers of her right hand were bent like she was clutching at something.
Doctors determined that Mary Best had gone into a coma which was actually a common symptom of cholera. The injuries she sustained were a result of Mary trying to break out of her coffin and vault.
Investigators looked into Mary Best’s actual death concluded that after forcing the lid open, she fainted from the stress and strain. When she fainted she fell out of the casket and struck her head on a stone shelf.
In 1851, the family of Virginia Macdonald was confident that she was dead. Her mother absolutely did not believe that she was dead but the family dismissed her and assumed she was just hysterical.
Virginia Macdonald was very much alive when that buried her in the Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.
After a time, her pleas were finally heard and they opened Virginia’s grave. Her body was found lying on the side with her hands baldly bitten.
There are many more stories in the book, Premature Burial and How it May be Prevented. Walter Hadwen, William Tebb and Edward Vollum wrote the book in 1905. It was recently rediscovered and enjoyed by those who read real crime books.
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