Sunday, April 5, 2015

Sunday's Cemetery - Founder of the American Navy

Published in April of 1905 in the Baltimore American out of Baltimore, Maryland

Ambassador Porter’s Long Search for Remains of Famous American Admiral Successful - Hundreds of Caskets Unearthed – The Body Found Well Preserved in a Leaden Casket – Anthropologists Pronounce Body that of Founder of American Navy – Will Be Brought to This Country and Entombed With Honors.
(By Cable to The American)
     Paris, April 14 – The remarkable search which Ambassador Porter has conducted for the body of Paul Jones has been crowned with success by the discovery of the body and its identification today by the highest French medical experts as unquestionably that of the famous American admiral who founded the American Navy.
     Ambassador Porter cabled to Washington tonight announcing the successful results of his search. The body is in a good state of preservation considering that the interment took place over 100 years ago.
     The circumstances leading to the final discovery of the body are particularly interesting. General Porter has conducted the search for the last five years, and when Congress recently took no action upon the President’s recommendation for the expenses incident to the search the Ambassador continued the extensive labors at his own expense. A large force of workmen has been engaged night and day tunneling and cross-tunneling the old St. Louis cemetery. This constituted a huge operation, embracing nearly a block covered with buildings and requiring a system of subterranean mining.
The Coffin Opened
     Hundreds of wooden caskets were found, but not until Wednesday were unearthed four laden caskets which gave promise of containing the body of the admiral. Three of them bore plates designating the names of the deceased. The fourth showed superior solidity of workmanship. No plate was found on this casket and it is supposed it was removed when another coffin superimposed on it. The leaden coffin was opened in the presence of General Porter, Colonel Bailly-Blanchard, the second secretary of the American embassy, and Engineer Weis, who has been directing the excavation.
     The body was found to be well preserved owing to its being immersed in alcohol. It was wrapped in a sheet with a packing of straw and hay. Those present were immediately struck by the resemblance of the head to that on the medallion and busts of the admiral.
     As was anticipated, no uniform, decoration or sword were found, as all such materials had been accounted for after the burial.
     The coffin is shaped like a mummy coffin, which coffins were common at that period, widening from the feet to the shoulders, with a round top fitting over the heard.
The Identification
     The casket was taken to the medical school, where Drs. Capitan and Papllant, distinguished, professors of the School of Anthropology and recognized authorities on such investigations, where charged with making a thorough examination for the purpose of identification. To facilitate this the Ambassador furnished them with portraits and medallions, two busts by Houdin and authentic descriptions of the color of the Admiral’s hair and the height and measurement of his body. After the most minute examination the following facts were fully sustained; Length of the body – 5 feet 7 inches – the Admiral’s exact height.
     Size and shape of the head agree with several peculiarities identical with the head of the admiral.
     Hair – dark brown, the same as the admirals; in places slightly grey, indicating a person of his age, 45 years. The hair is long, reaching below the shoulders and combed back and gathers in a clasp at the back of the neck.
     The face is clean shaved, all corresponding exactly with the descriptions, portraits and busts of the admiral.
     The linen is in good condition. One article bears an initial either “J” or an inverted “P.”
Wrapped in Tinfoil
     The body was carefully packed. The limbs were wrapped in tinfoil. Presumable for sea transportation, as indicated in a letter of the Admiral’s nearest friend and a pallbearer of his funeral, Colonel Blackden, who said:
“His body was put in a leaden coffin, so that in case the United States, which he and so essentially served, should claim his remains, they might be more easily removed.”
     Sending that all the internal organs were singularly well preserved, the doctors made an autopsy, which showed distinct proof of the disease from which the Admiral is known to have died. The identification was pronounced complete in every particular.
     Care has been taken to keep the body in its present state of preservation. It will be placed in a handsome casket and deposited in the receiving vault of the American Church, on the Avenue de ‘Alma, until the ambassador can learn the opinion of the government concerning the most appropriate means of transporting it to the United States and giving a fitting sepulcher to the body of the illustrious sailor whose place of burial has so long remained a mystery.
Satisfaction at Washington
     Washington, April 14. – Ambassador Porter’s dispatch announcing the finding of the body of John Paul Jones reached the State Department tonight. There is genuine satisfaction among the officials at Washington that the untiring efforts of Ambassador Porter have been crowned with success. Officials here followed his reports on the subject with keen interest and think it was particularly gratifying that he was able to bring his task to a successful conclusion before retiring from his post. It is probable that a recommendation will be made to congress at its next session looking to his reimbursement. The remains of John Paul Jones are to be brought here and interred to the National Cemetery at Arlington, and it is likely that the transfer will be made the occasion of an interesting demonstrations.
     Last year, at the time the search for the body of John Paul Jones was begun, Mr. Moody, then secretary of the Navy, made the official announcement that if the body were found the government would send a battleship to France to convey it to this country. It is not doubted that Secretary Norton will fulfil the promise then made. 

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