Update – Kinston, NC, Caskets, the Smithsonian

A month and a half ago, back in July, I wrote a little article about the Smithsonian working to identify the occupants of two coffins in Kinston, North Carolina. One was thought to be a Civil War veteran, and both were thought to belong to the Caswell family.

The Kinston Free Press is reporting that only one of the bodies was identified, and that both were women, and that it wasn’t quite what family genealogists had been expecting.

Excerpt from the article by Karen McConkey:

Tossing a handful of dirt on the two cast-iron coffins, the Rev. Michael Singer intoned the timeless words uttered at graveside services throughout Christendom: “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.”

With that, two coffins containing the remains of two women were placed reverently back into the ground where they had resting for more than 150 years.

The coffins were excavated in late July by a team of anthropologists, students and historians. Taken to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, forensic and anthropologic scientists examined and tested the remains. Both of bodies are those of women. Only one has been tentatively identified.

It’s interesting to note that the woman who was identified was a member of a prominent family in Kinston, and even had a tablet erected in her memory in the St Mary’s Parish in Kinston. She had died in 1859. If anything, this has raised more questions than answers, as it leaves the Caswell family wondering what happened to the two members they thought were buried there, and how the people buried there were forgotten (although I can answer that one – records do become lost or destroyed, but still…)

It was originally reported that the History Channel was filming this project, but they were not mentioned in this story.

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