Monday, October 1, 2018

Iron Coffin Lady documentary airing this week


From the NY Post:

On the afternoon of Oct. 4, 2011, a backhoe dug into an excavation pit in Elmhurst, Queens, and struck iron. Construction workers assumed they had hit a pipe. But when the claws of the backhoe emerged from the ground, it was dragging a body clothed in a white gown and knee-high socks.

Scott Warnasch, then a New York City Office of Chief Medical Examiner forensic archaeologist, initially viewed the finding as a recent homicide. “It was recorded as a crime scene,” Warnasch, 52, told The Post. “A buried body on an abandoned lot sounds pretty straightforward.”

It turned out to be anything but. The almost perfectly preserved body was actually that of a woman born decades before the Civil War. She had been buried in what was once the grounds of a church founded in 1830 by the first generation of free African-Americans. Now a new documentary, “The Woman in the Iron Coffin,” premiering Wednesday on PBS, provides the woman’s identity.

The Post can reveal that researchers believe her to be Martha Peterson, who worked for a local white man with abolitionist leanings.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

These things happen. Many cemeteries are forgotten across America. Way back in the day many of them were private and on private property. Over time things change. Good they found out who she was and hopefully gave her a new burial and that her ancestors have been notified. Should be a good PBS program. I will try to watch.

Anonymous said...

LGA is done. Move it to JFK. Queens is too crowded for LGA. Save the money of the airtrain.

Anonymous said...

An amazing story!

Anonymous said...

This is a fascinating story.
I'll be setting my DVR to record this one. There are indeed a lot of forgotten cemeteries throughout Queens, including Native American. Remember, this land was occupied for thousands of years before the 1600's.
The schools should be using our cemeteries more as a teaching resource. There's a national military cemetery on Jamaica Avenue in Cypress Hills, it has soldiers from the Mexican American War, the Civil War, the Spanish American War, WWI, WWII, etc.
...and the grounds are beautiful.

Small correction for the first post, I think you meant that they contacted/notified the woman's descendants?

Harry Haller

Tommy Efreeti said...

That is a pretty fascinating (especially as it happened in my proverbial backyard!). Thanks for sharing crapster.

georgetheatheist said...

Fascinating broadcast. Fascinating area of Queens, no? Site of the Woman in the Iron Coffin and where Judge Scalia grew up. Lord and Taylor and Clement Clark Moore.

Anonymous said...

It was a good show; my first question is what happened to all the other bodies likely buried there. I guess I know the answer-- scooped out long ago.