There are enough curiosities, oddities, and coincidences associated
with historic deaths and funerals to fill several books. As an example, consider the presidents that have died on the Fourth of July. Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two men who were instrumental in the creation of the Declaration of Independence, died on the 4th of July, 1826. In 1831, on the Fourth of July, James Monroe, another one of the nations founders, died.
Abraham Lincoln was the only president to die without a will or funeral plan. You can avoid leaving your family in a similar situation by contacting the funeral planning specialists at Arizona Affordable Funeral Home & Crematory.
As an historic footnote, Richard Todd Lincoln, son of President Lincoln, was involved with another presidential funeral. He served as a pall bearer for President Chester A. Arthur.
When Tennessee Williams, considered by many theater critics to be one of the greatest American playwrights, died the initial cause of death was attributed to drug and alcohol overdose. He had a reputation of abusing both in his battle with depression. However, the coroner determined that the cause of death was asphyxiation with alcohol being a contributing factor. Lodged in Williams throat was a bottle cap from his eye drops. Excessive drinking preceding the accident had subdued his gag reflex.
Here is a strange and gruesome story from the world of music. Gram Parsons was an influential musician in both country and rock genres. Some of his most noteworthy work was while playing for The Byrds, a pioneering rock group in the 1960’s. To escape the pressures of performing Parsons would make regular trips to Joshua Tree National Park in the Mojave Desert of southern California. It was there after a party that friend found him unresponsive due to an overdose of morphine.
The body of Parson was scheduled to be returned to his home state of Louisiana for internment. Friends, however, were suspicious that his father was rushing the funeral in order to inherit the estate, and in a bizarre scheme worthy of a James Bond film stole his body from the airport. They then transported to Joshua Tree National Park for a private cremation. They doused the body and casket in gasoline but the cremation was completely unsuccessful. After being discovered in the park, the charred remains of Parsons was buried in Louisiana.
Allan Pinkerton, the legendary detective and founder of the Pinkerton Detective Agency, was a popular subject in dime novels of the late 19th century. His exploits were legendary. His death was incongruous. While on a simple morning walk in Chicago, Pinkerton tripped and stumbled on crack in the pavement, and bit his tongue. Gangrene set in and within ten days, Pinkerton was dead.
And one more from the legal and law enforcement world. On June 17, 1871, attorney and politician Clement Vallandigham died in the courtroom during a trial. In an attempt to defend his client that was charged with murder, Vallandigham was demonstrating how the victim had accidentally shot himself. The gun discharged fatally wounding the attorney. Vallandigham’s client was cleared of all charges.
Join us in the next posting for part two.
Written by Jim Hinckley of Jim Hinckley’s America.