Think you used enough dynamite there, Caitlin?
October 4, 2017 8:59 PM   Subscribe

On the night of January 17, 1881, a would-be body snatcher by the name of Dipper was killed by a blast in a Mount Vernon, Ohio cemetery. The attempted grave-robbery was a three-man operation, according to the Stark County Democrat. The explosion broke the leg of the second thief. The third—tasked with keeping watch—was allegedly left unscathed and hoisted his wounded friend into a sleigh.

Another win for the coffin torpedo.
posted by Johnny Wallflower (21 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Time to update my will.
posted by ocschwar at 9:15 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!

(But I guess this is a step up from the earlier mania about premature burial.)
posted by Naberius at 9:32 PM on October 4 [3 favorites]


Can't prosecute a dead guy for murder, I suppose
posted by Existential Dread at 9:34 PM on October 4


Other aspects of the mortuary industry in the U.S. would have also deterred body snatching, including burial in sealed shipping crates as makeshift vaults, the use of hidden locking mechanisms on casket lids, and the use of cast iron coffins

I wish I could remember the title or author, but I remember reading a book both written and set somewhere in the late noneteenth centuries, in either Ohio or Pennsylvania.

There was one chapter where a poor woman came to a middle-class woman for advice; a traveling salesman was trying to sell her cast iron “grave covers” for the graves of her recently-deceased adult sons, partly working on her fear of having their bodies Burke-and-Hared. I've done some searching around the internet, and I haven't found any information on whatever real-life equivalents of these “grave covers” there might have been. The only detail I can recall is that they were supposed to have a little well where you could put water and fresh flowers.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:34 PM on October 4


Keeping the dead buried was a matter of grave concern in 19th-century America.

You're killing me here.
posted by Dr Dracator at 10:04 PM on October 4 [6 favorites]


Explosives? In my day we used pressure plate triggered blow darts, giant rolling boulders, and spiked pits.
posted by ckape at 10:26 PM on October 4 [11 favorites]


By the early 20th century, the controversy around resurrection men and the body trade had died down considerably...Anatomy laws gave medical schools access to bodies of the poor in most states by 1913, curbing the black market for cadavers.

"Access" - charming.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 10:28 PM on October 4 [7 favorites]


Coincidentally, The Coffin Torpedo was my wrestling moniker BITD. Fun times, fun times.
posted by mosk at 10:30 PM on October 4 [4 favorites]


“No, no, not my ashes. I want my body parts scattered.”
posted by not_the_water at 1:35 AM on October 5 [9 favorites]


Now I'm just wondering how many old graves might literally explode in the event of relocation or earthquake...
posted by kittens for breakfast at 3:53 AM on October 5


Seems to me like some of these devices would backfire. I mean, sure, you want your loved one's body protected from graverobbers, but the more-explosive ideas like grave torpedos seem like they'd risk blowing both the graverobbers and the corpse to bits. Then you've got to gather up the pieces of dear ol' Dad or whoever, while trying not to confuse his bits with the graverobber's bits....
posted by easily confused at 4:33 AM on October 5


You have to hand it to the Victorians, they weren't ones to quibble about the morality of blowing people to bits in order to defend corpses.
posted by tommasz at 5:32 AM on October 5 [7 favorites]


"grave torpedo" would be a fine name for a metal band.
posted by doctornemo at 5:47 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo
I love to sink her with my grave torpedo.

Hmm, well, it does give the song a very different slant, doesn't it?
posted by Naberius at 6:11 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


I see the grave torpedo as one that ponders the futility of war as it speeds through the sea towards its target. Self-aware weaponry rarely works out, as I dare say we'll discover in due course. Teach the bomb phenomenology, Dolittle.

It also puts me in mind of an advert I saw in Tel Aviv for "Stern Princess", which I found an unexpectedly erotic concept. The rest of the advert was in Hebrew, so I couldn't really tell what it was about; I subsequently discovered to my disappointment that it was for a gemstone cut, from a diamond dealer called Stern, rather than specialised personal services.

Boy, was that an awkward phone call.
posted by Devonian at 6:23 AM on October 5 [6 favorites]


This is fascinating.
posted by zarq at 6:40 AM on October 5


I've done some searching around the internet, and I haven't found any information on whatever real-life equivalents of these “grave covers” there might have been posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:34 AM on October 5

Ooh, was it a mortsafe? They seemed to be more of a Scottish thing though and not designed for permanent installation, just in place long enough that you're no longer interesting to med students.
posted by Trivia Newton John at 7:10 AM on October 5


My baby fits me like a flesh tuxedo
I love to sink her with my grave torpedo.

Hmm, well, it does give the song a very different slant, doesn't it?


Yeah, really not liking thinking about the starched collar.
posted by Samizdata at 7:39 AM on October 5


When I die, bury me with FRONT TOWARD ENEMY
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:26 AM on October 5 [4 favorites]


“Sleep well sweet angel, let no fears of ghouls disturb thy rest, for above thy shrouded form lies a torpedo, ready to make minced meat of anyone who attempts to convey you to the pickling vat,” read an advertisement for the Howell torpedo.

I NEED TO SEE THIS ADVERTISEMENT.
posted by redsparkler at 8:43 AM on October 5 [3 favorites]


I've solved the problem! I'm leaving my body to medical research and organ donation. After all I've finished with it and the donation/research just might help someone else live a better life.
posted by Burn_IT at 11:54 AM on October 5 [1 favorite]


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