Back From The Dead: 30 Famous People Who Were Exhumed 16-30
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Jesse James was part of the James-Younger Gang that was responsible for numerous robberies after the Civil War. James was killed in 1882 and buried in Independence, Missouri until his remains were exhumed in 1995 and tested for DNA. The DNA report found that the remains were consistent with the DNA of James’s relatives so the theories that James survived his supposed “death” were put to rest.
Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the United States’ national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner” and was also a lawyer. Key died in 1843 and was buried in Baltimore, Maryland. In 1866, his remains were moved to his family plot in Frederick, Maryland.
Pierre Charles L’Enfant
Pierre Charles L’Enfant designed a city plan for what would later become the District of Columbia in 1791 but was dismissed from the project when his temperament got in the way. L’Enfant died in poverty in 1825 and was buried in Prince George’s County, Maryland. His remains were re-buried in Arlington National Cemetery in 1909 after a ceremony to honor his contributions.
Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the United States and issued his Emancipation Proclamation that resulted in the abolition of slavery. After his assassination in 1865, a train took Lincoln’s body to Illinois where he was buried in Springfield. There were several attempts to steal Lincoln’s body and hold it for ransom so his remains were exhumed and buried again in several feet of concrete in 1901.
Isaac Newton came up with the three laws of motion and is associated with his theory of universal gravitation he came up with by watching an apple fall from a tree. Newton died in 1727 and was buried in Westminster Abbey. After burial, he was exhumed so his remains could be placed in a more prominent location in Westminster Abbey. During the exhumation process, large amounts of mercury were found in Newton’s body, probably a result from his alchemical experiments.
Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested under the suspicion of killing Dallas police officer J.D. Tippit and President John F. Kennedy in 1963. He denied that he committed the murders and was shot and killed before he could be brought to trial. Oswald’s body was returned to his family in Fort Worth after an autopsy. His body was exhumed in 1981, with his widow’s permission, to prove a theory that Oswald was replaced with a body double in the Soviet Union and that the double did the killings. Oswald’s body was confirmed through dental records.
Thomas Paine is best known for his contribution of the pamphlet Common Sense during the American Revolution and died at the age of 72 in 1809. Paine was buried in New Rochelle, New York but someone wanting to return them to England disinterred his remains and his final resting place today is unknown.One theory claims that the bones were auctioned off to people around the world. A minister in England claims that he has Paine’s right hand and skull.
Eva Peron married President Juan Peron of Argentina and became a powerful voice speaking on behalf of labor rights. Eva developed cancer and was the first Argentinean to undergo chemotherapy but despite the treatment, her health rapidly declined and she died in 1952 at the age of 33. All official activities were halted to mourn Peron’s passing and within a day, all the flower shops in Buenos Aires had run out of flowers. Her body was embalmed and sat on display for two years in her former office building while waiting for a monument in her honor to be completed. When her husband was overthrown from leadership in 1955, he left and didn’t take his wife’s body. Its location was unknown for 16 years until the military finally disclosed that she had been buried in a crypt in Milan, Italy under the name “Maria Maggi.” In 1971, her body was taken to Spain and her husband kept the corpse at his house until he returned to Argentina in 1973. He died in 1974 and Isabel Peron, the new president, had Eva’s remains returned and buried in her family tomb in Buenos Aires.
Juan Peron was elected three times as the President of Argentina and died while serving term three in 1974. Peron was buried in Buenos Aires but in 1987, his gravesite was damaged. His hands and some of his personal items, like his sword, were taken. His remains were moved to his former summer residence in a Buenos Aires suburb and placed in a mausoleum.
Elvis Presley has been dead since 1977 but his legacy as the “King of Rock n’ Roll” still lives on. Even though his hip shaking that sent young girls into a tizzy wouldn’t be as controversial today, he paved the way and set the tone for the new age of rock n’ roll. He was buried in Memphis next to his mother but was moved to Graceland after an attempt to steal his body. His 13.8-acre estate has been open to the public since 1982 and it is now the second most visited private residence in the U.S., behind the White House.
Zachary Taylor served as the 12th President of the United States and was the second U.S. president never to hold any prior office (George Washington had been the first). Taylor died in 1850 reportedly of gastroenteritis, which is inflammation of the stomach and intestines. Some thought that his death might have had other causes, so in 1991 his body was exhumed to find out the truth. Theories of the cause of his death ranged from heat stroke to cholera to arsenic poisoning. His remains were tested in 1991 and the levels of arsenic found were too low to conclude poisoning. Taylor is buried in the Zachary Taylor National Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau is best known for his book Walden that is a reflection on simple living in natural surroundings. He died in 1862 from tuberculosis and was buried in his family plot until he was moved to Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts along with members of his immediate family.
Jackie Wilson was a member of the R&B group “The Dominoes” until going solo in 1957. He recorded over 50 hit singles before collapsing on stage at a benefit concert in 1975. Wilson remained in a coma for the next 8 years and he died in 1984 at the age of 49. Unfortunately, Wilson’s manager controlled his wealth and because of this Wilson was constantly broke. When he died, he was buried in an unmarked grave but some devout fans had his body exhumed in 1990 so he could have a proper burial in Wayne, Michigan.
William Wrigley Jr
William Wrigley Jr. founded a chewing gum business Wm.Wrigley Jr. Company in 1891, revamped Catalina Island in California and owned the Chicago Cubs baseball team. Wrigley Jr. was buried on Catalina Island after his death in 1932 but his remains were moved to Forest Lawn Glendale during World War II.
Tammy Wynette was one of country music’s best-known artists and biggest-selling female vocalists and came out with hits like “Stand By Your Man.” Wynette died in 1998 of pulmonary blood clot at the age of 55. Her daughters filed a wrongful death lawsuit in 1999 against Wynette’s doctor and her husband and manager, George Richey. Wynette was exhumed and the autopsy concluded that she had died of a cardiac arrhythmia. She was reburied in her mausoleum in Nashville.