When visiting any cemetery, I like to do my research. My research on Mount Hope Cemetery of Logansport, Indiana revealed an interesting bit of history. Yes, I have heard about the various methods used to protect graves from graverobbers, but I never knew graves were sometimes protected with bombs. Yes, bombs.
According to an 1939 article in Logansport’s Pharos-Tribune, gravediggers found a bomb in Mount Hope Cemetery that had been buried with Catherine Grabel Huntley in 1885. The article explains this mechanism:
It is understood that metal were placed beneath the surface the burial lots and wires, attached to the mechanism, were stretched across the grave so that when “grave ghouls” attempted to dig into the freshly made mound to procure a body, their shovel or spade would come in contact with one of the wires, causing the to explode.
During the “reign” of the “grave ghouls” many such devices were placed in cemeteries of the county by relatives of deceased persons as a protection against possible loss of the newly buried body.
The bomb found in Mount Hope was turned over to the family, then eventually handed over to police to “tap” the device so to avoid any dangerous explosions. A hole was drilled into the bomb, exposing a black powder. The powder, having lost some of its effectiveness, still would have burned. The bomb eventually ended up with Cass County Historical Society in Logansport.
“Grave Bomb is Located in Cemetery.” Logansport Pharos-Tribune, 15 Dec 1939, LINK.
Kirk, Mitchell. “Blasts from the past: Bombs once necessary to protect area’s graves.” Kokomo Tribune, 1 May 2105, LINK.
4 thoughts on “In My Commonplace Book: Grave Bombs”
One might think that wouldn’t do a whole lot for the recently departed remains…
They were constructed and planted in such a manner as to direct the blast away from the corpse and toward the grave robbers. There are some newspaper accounts from the 1800s about these going off that I’ve found, and so far the stories I have found have said the body was intact. There was one account of the grave bomb going off during the burial! Can you imagine what a stir that would have caused among those attending?
Thanks for sharing your expertise. A bomb during a funeral…geez! So distressing.