A Better Place: Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

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The book describes the pioneer funeral in detail as well as the factors that changed this simple funeral into the elaborate etiquette-driven Victorian funeral at the end of the century. It includes the sources of various funeral customs, including the origins of embalming that gave rise to the modern-day funeral parlour. The evolution of cemeteries is explained with the beginnings of cemeteries in specific towns given as examples. In addition, the book includes practical suggestions for finding death and burial records throughout the century.

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A Better Place (Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario)

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Social Sciences Customs & Traditions A Better Place Death and Burial in Nineteenth-Century Ontario

Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Out of stock. Get In-Stock Alert. Funeral director John Matarese discovered this, called paramedics, and avoided live embalming or premature burial. In in Peraia , Thessaloniki , in Macedonia , Greece , the police discovered that a year-old woman was buried alive and died of asphyxia after being declared clinically dead by a private hospital; she was discovered just shortly after being buried by children playing near the cemetery who heard screams from inside the earth and afterwards her family was reported as considering suing the private hospital.

In Macedonia, Greece, police investigation concluded that a year-old woman was buried alive after being declared dead due to cancer; her family reported that they could hear her scream from inside the earth at the cemetery shortly after burial and the investigation revealed that she died of heart failure inside the coffin and found out that it was the medicines given to her by her doctors for her cancer that caused her to be declared clinically dead and buried alive.

Robert Robinson died in Manchester in A movable glass pane was inserted in his coffin, and the mausoleum had a door for purposes of inspection by a watchman, who was to see if he breathed on the glass. He instructed his relatives to visit his grave periodically to check that he was actually dead.

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Safety coffins were devised to prevent premature burial, although there is no evidence that any have ever been successfully used to save an accidentally buried person. On 5 December , J. Krichbaum received U. It consisted of a movable periscope-like pipe which provided air and, when rotated or pushed by the person interred, indicated to passersby that someone was buried alive.


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The patent text refers to "that class of devices for indicating life in buried persons," suggesting that such inventions were common at the time. In , a family designed and built a burial vault at the Wildwood Cemetery in Williamsport, Pennsylvania , with an internal hatch to allow the victim of accidental premature burial to escape. The vault had an air supply and was lined in felt to protect a panic-stricken victim from self-inflicted injury before escape.

Bodies were to be removed from the casket before interment. Books and texts deemed to be subversive were burned and Confucian scholars were reportedly buried alive in BC. Tacitus , in his work Germania , records that German tribes practiced two forms of capital punishment ; the first where the victim was hanged from a tree, and another where the victim was tied to a wicker frame, pushed face down into mud, and buried.

The first was used to make an example of traitors; the second was used for punishment of dishonourable or shameful vices, such as cowardice. According to Tacitus, the Ancient Germans thought that crime should be exposed, whereas infamy should be buried out of sight. In Ancient Persia, Herodotus in his book Histories records that burying people alive was a Persian custom, which they practice in order to be blessed by gods.

In ancient Rome, a Vestal Virgin convicted of violating her vows of celibacy was "buried alive" by being sealed in a cave with a small amount of bread and water, ostensibly so that the goddess Vesta could save her were she truly innocent, [21] essentially making it into a trial by ordeal. This practice was, strictly speaking, immurement i. According to Christian tradition, a number of saints were martyred this way, including Saint Castulus [22] and Saint Vitalis of Milan. In Denmark, in the Ribe city statute, which was promulgated in , a female thief was to be buried alive, and in the law by Queen Margaret I , adulterous women were to be punished with premature burial, men with beheading.

Within the Holy Roman Empire a variety of offenses including rape, infanticide, and theft could be punished with live burial. For example, the Schwabenspiegel , a law code from the 13th century, specified that the rape of a virgin should be punished by live burial whereas the rapist of a non-virgin was to be beheaded.


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In Augsburg , for example, a year-old boy and a year-old girl were found guilty of killing their master in conspiracy with the cook. The boy was beheaded, and the girl and the cook were buried alive beneath the gallows. For example, he notes those in Hesse , Bohemia , Tyrol. As noted by Elias Pufendorf, [29] a woman buried alive would afterwards be impaled through the heart.

Select bibliography - Cemetery Research Group, The University of York

This combined punishment of live burial and impalement was practiced in Nuremberg until also for women found guilty of theft, but the city council decided in that the punishment was too cruel and opted for drowning instead. For example, in a case in Ensisheim :. The verdict commanded the executioner to place the perpetrator in the grave alive, "and place two layers of thorns, the one beneath, the other above her. In this particular case, however, some noblewomen made an appeal for mercy, and the convicted woman was drowned instead.

In the 16th-century Habsburg Netherlands , where the Catholic authorities made a prolonged effort to stamp out the Protestant churches, live burial was commonly used as the punishment of women found guilty of heresy.

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The last to be so executed was Anna Utenhoven, an Anabaptist buried alive at Vilvoorde in see drawing here. Reportedly, when her head was still above the ground she was given a last chance to recant her faith, and upon her refusal she was completely covered up and suffocated. The case aroused a great deal of protest in the rebellious north provinces , and foiled the peace feelers which King Philip III was at the time extending to the Dutch. Thereafter the Habsburg authorities avoided further such cases, punishing heresy with fines and deportations rather than death.

Into the seventeenth century in feudal Russia, live burial as execution method was known as "the pit" and used against women who were condemned for killing their husbands. In , the punishment of live burial was changed to beheading. Among some contemporary indigenous people of Brazil with no or limited contact with the outside world, children with disabilities or other undesirable traits are still customarily buried alive [38]. There have been a number of cases of people pronounced incorrectly dead and buried alive thereafter.

During the Gulf War , Iraqi soldiers were knowingly buried alive by American tanks of the First Infantry Division shoveling earth into their trenches. Estimates for the number of soldiers killed this way vary: one source puts it at "between 80 and ", while Col. Anthony Moreno suggested it may have been thousands.

There are also accounts of the Khmer Rouge using premature burials as a form of execution in the Killing Fields. During Mao Zedong 's regime, there are some accounts that premature burials were used in executions. On rare occasions, people have willingly arranged to be buried alive, reportedly as a demonstration of their controversial ability to survive such an event. In one story taking place around , Sadhu Haridas , an Indian fakir , is said to have been buried in the presence of a British military officer and under the supervision of the local maharajah , by being placed in a sealed bag in a wooden box in a vault.

The vault was then interred, earth was flattened over the site and crops were sown over the place for a very long time. The whole location was guarded day and night to prevent fraud and the site was dug up twice in a ten-month period to verify the burial, before the fakir was finally dug out and slowly revived in the presence of another officer. The fakir said that his only fear during his "wonderful sleep" was to be eaten by underground worms. However, according to current medical science, it is not possible for a human to survive for a period of ten months without food, water, and air.

The Indian government has since made the act of voluntary premature burial illegal, because of the unintended deaths of individuals attempting to recreate this feat. In a Russian man died after being buried alive to try to overcome his fear of death but he was crushed to death by the earth on top of him.