When Did Railroad Begin Transporting Human Bodies for Burial ?

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Fri May 20 22:29:30 EDT 2022

FWIW, still firmly attached to a freight door in the Rural Retreat Depot is an original memo dated 1893, instructing the agent how to sell tickets to go to Richmond for the reinterment of Jefferson Davis. Davis'remains were recovered from his grave in New Orleans, and transported by rail to Richmond. Based on reports of spectator stops along the way I believe he came through Greensboro rather than through Rural Retreat.
Frank AkersRRDF

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  On Fri, May 20, 2022 at 7:54 PM, NW Mailing List<nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org> wrote:      Need the counsel of the Wise Men !   
   I am working on the biography of a man named Henry Courtenay Hughes, 1810-1862.  Courtenay grew up at Smithboro, Md, less than 10 miles east of Hagerstown, and his family maintained a substantial residence in Hagerstown.  Courtenay's father and grandfather were in the iron business and had several iron furnaces in the iron-rich ridge east of Hagerstown.  He was named after one of his grandfathers, Henry Courtenay, who was a Captain in the Rev. War.   
   Courtenay's claim to fame is that he was one of four men involved in operating the first telegraph line in Pennsylvania, January 7, 1846.   This line ran from Lancaster, Pa, to Harrisburg, Pa.  In Lancaster the telegraph instruments were located in the depot of the Philadelphia & Columbia RR, and at Harrisburg they were located in the depot of the Harrisburg, Portsmouth, Mt Joy & Lancaster RR.  Two telegraphers were at each end of the wire, Courtenay Hughes and James D. Reid being at Lancaster.  (If anyone wants the whole story, as written by William Bender Wilson in  1902, 21 pages, I can send it to you.)   
   Now here is my question:  Courtenay died while sojourning at a hotel in Wilmore, Cambria County, Pa, which is a straight-line distance of 75 miles to his burial spot in Hagerstown, and the transportation of his body would have involved a railroad distance of over 200 miles, should it have been shipped by rail.   
   My conclusion is that Courtenay was burred where he died (Wilmore,) and later his remains were moved to Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown. for re-burial.  His family certainly had the means to arrange that.     
   Courtenay died 23 Feb 1862 in Wilmore (a newspaper article substantiates that.)  But the cemetery he is presently buried in did not even open until 1865, and their records show he was "buried" there on 11 July 1877.  The cemetery office believes this indicates a "re-burial."  This substantiates my theory that Courtenay was originally buried in Wilmore, Pa., and his remains were moved later.  (And wouldn't you know it, the Hagerstown newspapers for the entire year1866 are missing.)   
   But just to ensure that I have covered all angles in this speculative conclusion, I put this question forward:  WHEN did railroads begin transporting human remains in express cars?  My (further) guess is that it was the express companies who got into this line of business, not the railroads themselves... but WHEN?   
    -- abram burnett   Your Turnip Purchases Finance My Yacht !  ________________________________________
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