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> The boy in the iron coffin
Shanifaye
post Dec 18 2007, 07:55 AM
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http://www.delmarvanow.com/apps/pbcs.dll/a.../712100303/1002

QUOTE
ONLEY -- Christmas came early for Smithsonian Institution researchers and relatives of an Accomack County boy whose unmarked grave was discovered accidentally in 2005 by utility workers replacing a gas line in a Washington neighborhood.

Three members of the Smithsonian team that identified the boy traveled to Accomack last week to present their findings and conduct further research and they were happy with what they found -- including more members added to the family tree through information given by local relatives as well as the discovery in the Accomack Circuit Court Clerk's Office of additional information about the boy.


The discovery of the unusual cast-iron coffin in a Columbia Heights subdivision sparked two years of investigation by the multidisciplinary Smithsonian team in an effort to find the identity of the child inside.

After several false starts, the trail led to Accomack County and to Eastern Shore genealogists M.K. Miles and Gail Walczyk, who helped researchers piece together the boy's story from Accomack court records.

At Nandua High School, relatives of the boy, William Taylor White, sat in rapt attention as Deb Hull-Walski, Dave Hunt and Lynn Snyder of the Smithsonian's Museum of Natural History explained how White was identified using DNA analysis and historical records.

White died in January 1852 at age 15 while attending Columbian College in Washington. Accomack County court records show he was orphaned at age 6 and taken in by a wealthy Baptist woman from Pastoria, Ann Custis Taylor, who died in 1850 and left money in her will for his education.

His gravesite was apparently overlooked when the Baptist college, now part of George Washington University, moved in the 1880s.

White's family line had to be traced to find a close living relative. In that process, more than 900 members of the family were found by tracing two siblings who married and had children.

Among the 150 people who attended last week's presentation sponsored by the Eastern Shore Public Library were some 20 relatives from as far away as Delaware, although most were from Accomack County.

Relatives saw for the first time a computer reconstruction of White's face.

Another slide showed the boy's face juxtaposed with a 1940s photo of his brother's descendent, Agnes White, and a photo taken this year of Linda Dwyer -- the Lancaster, Pa., woman whose DNA matched William's, proving his identity.

The family resemblance is unmistakable -- all three have the same broad brow, the same chin, the same teeth.

In the process of tracing the line it has been found that many in the family also have the same congenital heart defect that contributed to White's death.

Hugs were plentiful at the gathering as newly discovered cousins greeted one another and the Smithsonian team. People lingered for more than an hour, telling family stories and examining genealogical charts. By the evening's end, relatives had added dozens more names to the charts, even calling others on their cell phones to verify family connections.

Thomas Elliott Burroughs of Salisbury showed Hull-Walski a wallet-sized high school senior portrait of himself taken some decades ago that is striking in its resemblance to the computer-generated image of White's face.

"It's amazing to stand here and think how many of us are cousins that had no idea," marveled Nancy Walker, who recently found out the best friend from whom she grew up across the street, Georgie Brown, is also her cousin.

Brown and her sisters, Julie Caulier and Lenora Nekunas -- Agnes' daughters, also attended the presentation, as did their aunt, 80-year-old Irene Short. Short is one of White's closest living relatives and could play a part in deciding where his body will be reinterred.

"We're still pursuing the fact of finding the closest family members," said Hunt, a forensic anthropologist. "We want to get all the family involved in the decision-making process" as to where his grave should be.

Last weekly Hunt, along with Museum of Natural History collections manager Hull-Walski and archaeologist Snyder visited the Clerk's Office in Accomac. Among historic records dating to the 1600s they found an 1852 accounting of expenses paid for White at Columbian College out of his inheritance from Taylor.

In the accounting was the cost of White's funeral, $84.13. When he died, the boy had $862.21 left of the $1,300 Taylor left for his education.



This is the press release from the Smithsonian dated 9/20/07

QUOTE
Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History Experts
Put a Name to a Face in Pre-Civil War Era Forensic Case
Sept. 20, 2007

A team of researchers led by Doug Owsley, forensic anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, have determined the identity of a pre-Civil War era individual buried in a cast iron coffin that was discovered in Washington, D.C., in 2005 by a utility crew. After a complete forensic examination in 2005 and two years of genealogical research, the boy in the iron coffin has been identified as William Taylor White, a 15-year-old from Accomack County, Va., who was buried in a Columbian College cemetery in 1852 in what is now the district's Columbia Heights neighborhood. Continued tracing of the White family has resulted in identifying that the boy's lineage leads back to Anthony West, one of the Jamestown, Va., settlers.

Columbian College was chartered in 1821 by an act of Congress and was the precursor to The George Washington University. The college relocated to Foggy Bottom in 1912. It has been concluded that the grave was inadvertently left behind when the cemetery was moved. White had been a student in the college's preparatory school and was highly esteemed by his instructors and associates.

Deborah Hull-Walski, anthropologist at the museum, led the genealogical efforts to identify the boy. She was assisted by historians, librarians, genealogists and college interns, including graduate students attending The George Washington University. After carefully reviewing census records, obituaries and other public documents, the team was led to several candidates. DNA testing of known living descendants through the maternal line enabled the researchers to make the positive identification. "The mystery of this young boy's life and a strong sense of responsibility to properly identify him kept me and the entire team focused and determined. This was not a one-person project. It took more than three dozen people nearly two years to make the ID," said Hull-Walski.

Forensic imaging experts at the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in Alexandria, Va., worked with David Hunt, anthropologist at the museum, to produce a facial reconstruction of White, based on photographs of the mummified remains and a computed tomography scan of his skull.

Pathologists and forensic anthropologists examined the well-preserved mummified remains that—although 150 years old—allowed for tissue and DNA analysis. The scientists determined the boy had congenital heart disease, a ventricular septum defect (hole) that contributed to his death. An obituary notice published in the Daily National Intelligencer newspaper (Washington, D.C.) Jan. 28, 1852, confirms White died Jan. 24, 1852, after a short illness. Clothing historians were able to determine that he was dressed in a shirt, vest and pants that are consistent with clothing styles of the early to mid-1850s. The coffin is most likely a Model 1 version made by Fisk and Raymond Co. (New York) in the early 1850s.

"Thus is cut off, in the morning of his days, one in whom many hopes were centred—and who had the fairest prospects of happiness and usefulness in life."—Excerpt from White's obituary, published Feb. 8, 1852, in the Religious Herald newspaper (Richmond, Va.).


Wouldnt you just love to see the picture of the recreated face.....so far I havent been able to dig it up (pardon the pun)
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Shanifaye
post Dec 18 2007, 08:16 AM
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picture of the coffin lid from the Smithsonian

Here Erin Saupe takes a good sniff in addition to gazing through the lid of an iron coffin from the 1850s discovered only recently in Washington, DC in 2006. It contains a 13 or 14 year-old white American boy preserved in excellent condition.
Attached File(s)
Attached File  anthro_day34.jpg ( 52.76K ) Number of downloads: 28
 
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Gerrie
post Dec 18 2007, 08:37 AM
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Oh my is this space big enough lol... Roberts, Burks, McCoy, Hatfield, Morrison, Viney, Fortner, Forbes, Pearson, Brown, Enlow, Inlow, Dardenne, Denton, Quapaw, Bresee, Alexander, James, Elswick, Hart... I will add more as I know more




http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/conte...7091902409.html
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Shanifaye
post Dec 18 2007, 08:43 AM
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lol thanks Gerrie....you were quicker than me

Y'all make sure to read the article Gerrie linked to...its more interesting than the two I posted lol
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cacshantih
post Dec 18 2007, 12:19 PM
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There is an interesting book that includes a section on cast iron coffins titled Commodifying Everything: Relationships of the Market by Susan Strasser; “Preserving Their Form and Features”: The Commodification of Coffins in American Understanding of Death by Brent W. Tharp, pages 129-137. Sections of the book can be found in Google Books.

I've attached two pictures from the book of these coffins (at least I attempted to attach them, we'll see if I did it correctly!).

Attached File  metal_coffin_1.png ( 79.61K ) Number of downloads: 15


Attached File  metal_coffin_2.png ( 78.71K ) Number of downloads: 14


The book also includes an extensive section on the production and manufacturing of mourning or hair jewelry.


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Rev. Laura
post Dec 20 2007, 12:17 PM
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I just think it is the coolest thing that they found him and could find out who he was and who his relatives are now.
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Shawn
post Dec 20 2007, 08:03 PM
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Yeah, me too. smile.gif

QUOTE(Rev. Laura @ Dec 20 2007, 11:17 AM) *
I just think it is the coolest thing that they found him and could find out who he was and who his relatives are now.

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Steph
post Dec 26 2007, 06:20 PM
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I just wonder if there were genealogists in the family who either didn't know about him. Or knew he existed and couldn't find what happened to him. Or were looking for a grave. Don't you know that was a great present for them?
Wish we could afford that type of research for those "missing" folks in our family lines. Now that family needs to go back thru all their stuff and see if perchance there is a tintype or something of him and if it resembles the reconstruction.

Steph
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Shanifaye
post Dec 26 2007, 06:33 PM
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I am hoping the center for missing children and the smithsonian lady who wrote be back get with me soon with the pictures I requested
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Shanifaye
post Dec 27 2007, 01:17 PM
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dance2.gif

The people at the National Center for Missing and Exploited children (they are the ones that worked on the facial reconstruction part of the project) got back with me and sent me a picture for me to use here!!!!!

The lady at the smithsonian is trying to get permission from some of the family members to post their pictures here as well.

This is the email she sent me back (is it bad of me to say that Joe Mullins is kind of hot? lol )

in the photo from left to right you have:

Joe Mullins (younger guy) and Glenn Miller both are Forensic Artists with the National Center for Missing and & Exploited Children
On the computer screen ( to the right of Glenn) you have: From left to right, the facial reconstruction images that Joe and Glenn created using different technology. The image Glenn created is on the left of the computer screen (color image) the image Joe created is in black and white. It’s amazing how these guys do this and they are both available if you want further details about the science and art involved in making one of these photo’s.

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Shanifaye
post Dec 27 2007, 01:42 PM
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oh gosh gosh gosh!!

They are going to set up a time for me to talk to them on the phone!!!

Ok people....what do we want to know about how they went about this project? I will talk to them after all the holidays are over, so I have some time to work on some questions when I dont have a nyquil head...so...what would we like to know?
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Steph
post Dec 27 2007, 02:51 PM
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UH...everything.

How did they come to be involved? Was there deterioration after vandals broke the glass? What condition was the body actually in? How did they get a skull to work with. Did they do a computer thingie or make a mold or what. Give me time I can come up with a million questions...You are actually going to talk with Hot Joe and the multi talented Glenn Miller (any relation to THE Glenn Miller?) ???? How lucky are you. Bet no other genealogy website has been this lucky.

Steph
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Shanifaye
post Dec 27 2007, 03:25 PM
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The lady that emailed me the picture, Barbara, told me she would set up a conference call with both of them when we can find a time that gels with all our schedules

see what happens when you're not afraid to spend hours tracking down proper email addresses and are not afraid they will just say "no" lol

I learned a long time ago....the worst that can happen if you DO ask is they say no and the worst that can happen if you DONT ask, is that you'll never know what you're missing out on

im so so so excited!!!
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Carol
post Dec 28 2007, 09:24 PM
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Congrats,

or, as they say:

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

biggrin.gif
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Shawn
post Dec 29 2007, 06:42 PM
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Cool! biggrin.gif WTG! smile.gif That guy is cute and no, I don't think it's wrong for you to say that, just cause your married. You can look, you just can't touch. tongue.gif
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