Friday, September 29, 2006

The final burial of John Paul Jones ..1905-1913 The search for the long lost admiral. (warning there is a picture of him in 1905)

John Paul Jones 1747-1792

The map of where the body of Jones was found in 1905

The dig site

Horace Porter under the ground looking for Jones

This is Jones as he looked in 1905. Not too bad for being dead 113 years.

Jones lying in state

Theodore Roosevelt speaking at the ceremony

First burial 1905

second burial 1906

His final resting place.....finally laid to rest January 26, 1913

I find that one of the most interesting parts of our history is what finally happens to the person mentioned. Most of us are buried and that is that. But there are a few in history that were buried and forgotten.....and then they forgot where they put them!...Such is the case of John Paul Jones.

Jones who is most famous for his statement to a British captain who he was fighting against...The captain asked Jones if he was ready to surrender...Jones reply was...."I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT"....As we all know he won the battle and became a major hero. But this story is not of that part of his existence....We are going to deal with the Admiral after he had passed from his mortal coil.

To get us there, a little history...Jones was all over and in many navies. Also it seems he had an strong interest in very young girls...Which finally in Russia he was charged with rape.
He finally found himself in Paris, France...A tired and sick man. Although he was only in his early 40's by the time he reached France his hair was grey and his face was weathered and his posture stooped.
He seemed like an old man long before his time. He finally died in 1792 at the age of 45. It was ironic that all around him as he died were the sounds of cannon, as the French revolution was in full swing.

He was Buried in the St. Louis Protestant cemetery in a lead coffin which was filled with alcohol. He was buried and it is not known if he had a headstone or not.
The thought of Jones was forgotten and the cemetery itself was finally buried under the expanding city of Paris...
Although Jones was a American National hero there was no thought as to where he was buried...It also seems he was also part of the naval history of Russia as well.

Now comes into the story the United States ambassador to France, Horace Porter. He was very interested in finding the hero's grave. He did some research and had some ideas, but it was not until 1899 that a large area of slums were torn down that the Cemetery was found. It was a mess and nothing but shattered and toppled tomb stones.

At his own expense Porter went to work to find the grave of Jones. Shafts were sunk into the ground and tunnels built underground to find coffins. There were many but one piece of information that came to Porter's aid was that Jones was buried in a lead coffin. After 5 years 5 lead coffins had been found. Three of them had nameplates, one contained a skeleton of a tall man, the last one contained the prize.

What was so remarkable was that Jones was amazingly preserved and as soon as it was decided that they believed it may be Jones they did an autopsy.
Now it was said when he was alive that he was suffering from Pulmonary tuberculosis, dropsy of the breast and jaundice. His body was known to be filled with fluid, swollen and discolored. The autopsy states that he suffered for years from "chronic interstitial nephritis" a kidney inflammation. The cause of death seemed to be from "bronchial pneumonia".
What was diagnosed as dropsy of the breast was revised in the autopsy to "a "decompensated heart" which was the result of high blood pressure incidental to "chronic glomerrular nephritis". This is saying that he died from cardiac arrest from Pneumonia.
The corpse was photographed and placed in a new coffin.

In July 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt ordered the body of Jones to be brought to the United States on the USS Brooklyn under escort of a squadron of seven American warships. The body was brought to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Where under great pomp and ceremony he was welcomed back to America.

It took a while but finally a crypt was made in a grand building for Jones. It took a lot of pushing by Horace Porter to get it going. Sadly, Porter who paid for everything to make this all happen was never repaid a cent for all of his work.

This is the basic story, there are websites that will have all the info on the autopsy and Jones.


Anonymous said...

And the location of his final resting place is???
How about the rest of the story?! Thanks for the interesting website.

Anonymous said...

Hey GC -- Did you read the article fully? They buried him at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis.

Lane Kimmel said...

How did they determine the body from the last two lead coffins? Was it the height factor?

Anonymous said...

I recently visited the USNA and viewed JPJ's sarcophagus. The guide there said that JPJ was only 5'3", which was a factor in ruling out the other skeletons. Also, he was so well-preserved that they could easily identify him just from the facial features and hair color!

anonymous elderly woman said...

Lane Kimmel: read an interesting article saying burial shirt had the initials JP, examination of body showed no wounds (he was never wounded in battle) and also that apparently some of the ailments he suffered from could be determined by autopsy and the body showed signs of those ailments - height matched, lack of uniform was consistent with reports that his clothing was auctioned off,

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