How They Stopped Body Snatching in Lanark County

How They Stopped Body Snatching in Lanark County

 - Several cases of body snatching are reported...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 07 Mar 1896, Sat,
  3. Page 5




Body snatching was once notorious and had many particularly atrocious offences. Especially at St. James Cemetery in Carleton Place where a woman’s body was once desecrated from the coffin and later found dumped into the cellar of the Kingston Medical college and re-embalmed. But, years later the burying ground custodians could scarcely recall an instance of the kind within their experience. At its peak grave robbing was a profitable vocation to keep a number of  people employed.

Aside from other considerations, it  later would be next to impossible to get a body out of St.James cemetery without being detected in the act. In the late 1880s the grounds were  patrolled through the night, and precaution was taken to prevent depredations of any kind.

A cemetery superintendent said: “The body snatching business ceased to be profitable when we used a pine box to enclose the casket”. Before the introduction to this outer box it was comparatively easy for the grave robber to narrow excavation at the head of grave, lift the wooden lid over the through which the face of the is seen, smash the glass, insert a hook under the chin and jerk the body out of the grave. But after the improvements the grave had to be excavated and the pine box unscrewed before the coffin was accessible. This takes some time, and so increased the chances discovery that few cared to engage in the business.

Unlike years before, the only bodies for which a high price was asked were those of persons dying in some mysterious way or some rare disease for which physicians or others interested were often willing to pay to induce the body snatcher to long chances.

Of course the body of a person of great wealth was always more or less in danger, but their ire usually made practically impenetrable. While there was little body snatching after the late 1800s work done by the body snatchers of a past generation often comes to light when, through the wishes of relatives or otherwise, it becomes necessary to transfer a corpse to another spot.

Many an empty was found from years past, and the cemetery men had to conceal from the relatives the absence of the remains their resting place. The custodian would seek to convince the friends of the long departed one that it was better that they should not look at the corpse, that it was decayed recognition, and that the sight of would be unpleasant to them. If he succeeded, as he usually persuading them to forego the of another last look, he manages enough sand and earth into the coffin to give it the proper weight and eludes suspicion.

In other cases the head of the coffin is found to have smashed in and there are marks of ghastly body hook under the chin,  the remains are intact, showing the robbers were interrupted at their work or found that they had the wrong corpse.

But, the value of a corpse depreciated as the years went by. The physicians and schools got all the bodies they wanted at the hospitals.


 - Smiths Falls News SMITHS FALLS, Nor. ; I. f...

Clipped from

  1. The Ottawa Journal,
  2. 03 Nov 1922, Fri,
  3. Page 23
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place and The Tales of Almonte


The Invasion of the Body Snatchers of Lanark County

Macabre Jobs of the Past–Resurrectionists

Stairway to Heaven in a Cemetery? Our Haunted Heritage

How Sweet is the Highway to Hell?

Did Samuel Pittard of Ashton Murder His Wife?

About lindaseccaspina

Linda Knight Seccaspina was born in Cowansville, Quebec about the same time as the wheel was invented and the first time she realized she could tell a tale was when she got caught passing her smutty stories around in Grade 7 at CHS by Mrs. Blinn. When Derek "Wheels" Wheeler from Degrassi Jr. High died in 2010, Linda wrote her own obituary. Some people said she should think about a career in writing obituaries. Before she laid her fingers to a keyboard, Linda owned the eclectic store Flash Cadilac and Savannah Devilles in Ottawa from 1976-1996. After writing for years about things that she cared about or pissed her off she finally found her calling. Is it sex drugs and rock n' roll you might ask? No, it is history. Seeing that her very first boyfriend in Grade 5 (who she won a Twist contest with in the 60s) is the head of the Brome Misissiquoi Historical Society and also specializes in local history back in Quebec, she finds that quite funny. She writes every single day and is also a columnist for Hometown News and Screamin's Mamas. She is a volunteer for the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum, an admin for the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page, and a local guest speaker. She has been now labelled an historian by the locals which in her mind is wrong. You see she will never be like the iconic local Lanark County historian Howard Morton Brown, nor like famed local writer Mary Cook. She proudly calls herself The National Enquirer Historical writer of Lanark County, and that she can live with. Linda has been called the most stubborn woman in Lanark County, and has requested her ashes to be distributed in any Casino parking lot as close to any Wheel of Fortune machine as you can get. But since she wrote her obituary, most people assume she's already dead. Linda has published six books, "Menopausal Woman From the Corn," "Cowansville High Misremembered," "Naked Yoga, Twinkies and Celebrities," "Cancer Calls Collect," "The Tilted Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place," and "Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac." All are available at Amazon in paperback and Kindle. Linda's books are for sale on Amazon or at Wisteria · 62 Bridge Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada, and at the Carleton Place and Beckwith Heritage Museum · 267 Edmund Street · Carleton Place, Ottawa, Canada--Appleton Museum-Mississippi Textile Mill and Mill Street Books and Heritage House Museum and The Artists Loft in Smith Falls.

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