If you are reading this, I hope that you have read about the lost town of Cottonport and its missing residents.
If you haven’t, read it here. Don’t worry I’ll wait.
As you know, 195 bodies were found during construction on I-65 that historians agreed were the inhabitants of the long-forgotten town of Cottonport in Limestone County. These bodies were moved to New Hope where only 194 of them were re-interred.
What happened to the last remaining body, it turns out, is another part of the Cottonport mystery.
What Happened to 195?
All of the bodies had been reduced to skeletons as the boxes and clothes they were buried in had deteriorated over time, all except for one. The workers doing the excavations came upon a cast-iron casket (supposedly a Springfield model ’92).
Cast-iron caskets were popular from the mid-1800s through the civil war, but only the wealthiest of families were able to purchase them. They can be seen today in museums, and occasionally some will pop up for sale on eBay.
As was common with these types of caskets, the one found in Limestone County featured a glass viewing window. Once cleaned, workers could make out the remains of a skeleton, clothes, and a diamond pin in the lapel.
The casket and its contents were loaded up with the other remains and taken to Hayden cemetery in New Hope. This is where the mystery begins its new chapter.
It seems the remains and the casket were left in the transport truck overnight for burial the next day, but a burial for the man in the cast-iron casket never came.
There are varying tales of what became of the man, including its theft for the diamond.
The most plausible is that the morning of the burial, cemetery owners received word from a state agency that officials wanted to study the casket and the remains. A New Hope historian thinks the state department of forensics made the request, but no state agency has ever confirmed receiving the casket or remains.
Since the cast iron casket was lost, rumors have swirled concerning its whereabouts, with some people postulating that an X-files type of FBI group nabbed it for examination.
The one thing that we do know is the man in the cast-iron casket appears to have done a second disappearing act, only deepening the mysteries surrounding the lost Town of Cottonport.