The woman being buried is now known as the Iron Coffin Lady. Archaeologists determined she is a 30-something African-American who died in the 1850s.
Her mumified body was discovered five years ago when a construction crew accidentally dug up her steel coffin while building apartments at 90-15 Corona Ave.
The site was the original St. Mark Church and African burial ground. It was founded in 1828 by the United African Society of Long Island.
Many church members were not aware of the Elmhurst location.
"Because of her and because of the finding of her, our church has had a renewed fervor in learning more about who we are and who we were," Detherage said. "We lost some of the history throughout the years."
Researchers believe the woman was born in the 1820s and lived in a part of Newtown, which is now called Elmhurst, Queens.
Forensic archaeologist Scott Warnasch says the woman's body was so well-preserved, investigators initially thought she might have been a recent homicide victim. But he knew right away she was not because of her elaborate coffin.
Warnasch and a research team spent years investigating the woman. While they don't know exactly who she was, they know some details about her and how she died.
"She had apparently died of smallpox," Warnasch said.
Fifteen other remains were also found at the site. Detherage and the developer have been negotiatiating a deal to build a memorial there. The city says all construction has been halted there until both sides come to an agreement.
Meanwhile, after a weekend of exhibits and tributes at the church, a funeral will be held on Sunday at 4 p.m. for the Iron Coffin Lady.
Might as well hold a funeral for downtown Flushing while we are at it.
It has gone to the dogs! Unsanitary cultures breed filthy overcrowded streets.
You can take the peasants out of Fujian but you cannot take the Fujian out of the peasants.
Fascinating find. Some of my ancestors date back to nyc from before the 1850s. They were from queens too. Not too sure which part but I know my grandmother who was born in 1925 was born and raised in Jamaica and her mother was born there too and so were her mother's parents. My grandfather was born in Queens in 1905 and my great aunt lived in the same house she and my grandfather grew up in until the day she died in 1989. My father ended up selling that house and splitting the profits with his brothers and sisters. If he only would have held on to that house until now, he would have made a killing. It was a 2 family house.
A coffin made entirely out of iron? She must have came from a rich family.
Though an atheist, this is fascinating. I would love to see this, as metal coffins are rare.
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