Regarding General Grant’s Death, From 1885 Harper’s Weekly

Several pages scanned from our original copy of the August 8, 1885 issue of Harper’s Weekly, recounting the death of Civil War general and former U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, who died on July 23 of that same year.

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Mourning Letter [Blog Exclusive ]

May 1869 letter from Sarah “Gussie” Bridgens to her friend Jennie Tubbs, informing her of Sarah’s sister, Anna’s, death. Anna was born in 1839 and just celebrated her 30th birthday in April. She died of consumption.

North Oyster Bay
May 31st, 1869

My Dear Friend Jennie,

I sit down to write you a letter, a very sad one for me to write and I think a sad one for you to read. My dear sister Anna after a lingering and very painful sickness of fourteen months has been taken by God’s will to himself. He saw fit that she should at last have rest from all her agony and trouble.

She died on the 18th day of May, at a quarter past six in the morning. No one knew what she suffered but herself. she was laid out most beautifully. Miss Susie Youngs brought beautiful white flowers of all kinds. She look  just like May (?). She died very easy, her breath grew weaker and weaker, and at last her spirit left its frail body and resigned itself to God who gave it.

She passed away from this sinful earth amid the tears and sobs of father, mother, sisters and brother, and all her kind friends. We accompanied her body to “Greenwood”, that blessed city of the dead. We left her amidst the beautiful birds and flowers.  Mother says all we can do now is to prepare to meet her in Heaven.

Dear Jennie I need not tell you how I feel, there is a vacancy which it will take time to fill. I can hardly realize it at present. 

Believe Me,
Your Bereaved Friend,
Gussie Bridgens

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“To Paint with Face of Corpse” [Blog Exclusive ]

Rare and interesting druggist’s receipt, dated November 22, 1894, for a sale of borate of soda to Fairplay, Colorado coroner William B. Fowler, to be used “To paint with face of corpse”.

Nineteenth Century morticians like Mr. Fowler would often coat the faces of the deceased with this mixture in order to help prevent discoloration and the formation of bacteria / mold. Families of the deceased, who very commonly held wakes at the family home, would use a similar technique, covering their dead loved one’s face with a cloth that had been soaked in a mixture of baking soda and water; the cloth would remain in place whenever the body was not being viewed.

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Win This Post Mortem Daguerreotype

Want to own this original 1850s post mortem daguerreotype (1/6 plate)?

We are giving it away, worldwide shipping included, to one person who subscribes to the Thanatos Archive (or renews, or extends your current, active subscription) between the time of this post and 11:59 PM on Monday, September 16th. Anybody subscribing during that time will be automatically entered for a chance to win the image.

Click here to subscribe now.

Winner will be announced on our Facebook page on Tuesday, September 17. Good luck!

Johnstown, PA Flood (1889) Child Survivors

Harry, Frank, Myrtle, and John, siblings who survived the devastating Johnstown flood that occurred in May, 1889, killing more than 2200 people. Note that a couple of the boys have injuries.

The Hill family had 8 children at the time of the flood, and at least one of them, Ivy (Myrtle’s twin), died in event, as well as the family’s housekeeper, Jenny Jack.

We have several Johnstown Flood related images in our collection, including post mortem image(s). If you’re a member, just use the search feature on our site. Not an Archive member? Review our membership info here.