March 18th, 2011
Article transcribed from the Stars and Stripes, Saturday, April 21, 1945, page 4, and printed in the Bulletin of the California Central Coast Genealogical Society 6 (February 1973): 30.
“Kept Mother’s Body 33 Years.”
Washington (ANS)—Police inspecting the deserted home of Mrs. Mary Eva Woodward, 77, who died Sunday, discovered in a back room and propped on 2 boxes, a sealed, glass-topped coffin containing the body of Mrs. Woodward’s mother, who died 33 years ago.
The body of the older woman was clad in a high-necked gray dress with tight sleeves. It was in a remarkable state of preservation, Coroner A. Magruder McDonald said, apparently some unusual embalming method having been used.
Police assume from the identical names of the two women that they had married men of the same name. But detectives were unable to say where or when the elder Mrs. Woodward had died. Statistical records both in Wilkinsburg, Pa., and in St. Louis showed that a woman named Mary E. Woodward died in 1912.
Mrs. Hattie Hay Quinter, a neighbor of the younger, Mrs. Woodward, said she had told her that the mother’s body had been sent to Egypt to be preserved permanently by a “mummifier,” and that it was returned and buried near Boston about 24 years ago.
The daughter then began worrying about her mother’s last wish “that they never be separated,” Mrs. Quinter related, so the body was exhumed, shipped here and enshrined in a room beside the rocker that had been the elder woman’s favorite chair.
“Every afternoon,” Mrs. Quinter said, “the daughter would sit in the rocker and commune with her mother’s spirit.”
The daughter, a graduate of Wellesley, wrote books on genealogy and ceramics. She was also prominent in the Washington branch of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Linda Woodward Geiger