Mutilated by Desire

Posted: August 7, 2013 in Historic Interest
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Mrs. Lewhuston, who died at Warsaw, Indiana, on Wednesday, made a dying request that her hands, feet, and heart, should immediately after death be removed and taken to Etretal, France, to be buried in the parish churchyard. She was so persistent in this request that her daughter, Mrs. Claire Taylor, solemnly promised to carry it out immediately after death occurred Mrs, Taylor proceeded to carry out her mother’s wishes, but the physician absolutely declined to amputate the limbs or remove the heart. He further applied to the Health Department for an order restraining the mutilation of the corpse. It was clearly shown, however, that the daughter was only following out her mother’s last wishes, and the authorities found themselves unable to interfere. The amputations were finally effected by a local surgeon, and the hands, feet, and heart of the deceased lady, after being embalmed, were placed in black ebony boxes, upon each of which, in silver-headed nails, was the inscription Mother,” each box also bearing a number. Mrs. Taylor then started for New York with her ghastly burden, but her fame had preceded her. Upon her arrival the landlord of a hotel refused to admit her unless the boxes were taken to the baggage room and left there. After much persuasion the three boxes were given into the charge of the baggage master. Mrs. Taylor then retired to her room. On Saturday morning she proceeded to the office of the Inman Steamship Company, and took her passage on the City of New York, sailing on Wednesday. When she returned to the hotel she was informed that box No. 2 the one containing the feet had disappeared. There was a dreadful scene. The whole establishment was searched, telegrams were sent in every direction, but the box could not be found. Finally, at three o’clock in the afternoon, a telegram was received from Boston to the following effect: I have among my trunks a small, black box, marked, ‘Mother, No. 2.’ Did I take it with me by mistake from New York? (Signed) Alice Ellis.” Mrs. Ellis had been a guest at the same hotel and had left by the morning train for Boston, carrying off by mistake the mother’s feet. This morning they were returned by express. Mrs. Taylor, once more quite happy, and will sail for England on Wednesday, unless the steamship company make an objection to her bringing three rather gruesome ebony boxes with her. She will within the next two weeks be able to carry out her mother’s wishes and bury the hands, feet, and heart in the spot indicated. Mrs. Taylor was much unnerved at the publicity given to her mission, but avers her intention of carrying out her mother’s wishes whatever the consequences may be.

Evening Express, 11 May 1891

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