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Histories:  Trempealeau Co. Historical Accounts:

"Trempealeau County" by Clarence J. Gamroth: 

Volume 1A:

Miscellaneous:  "Dead, But Still Alive" - A Horror Story

by Frances Saether, 1947

This story may seem fantastic to you, but to those who witnessed it, it is true as real life.

In the year 1860, my grandfather, Lewis A Winsnad, as a boy lived in Thelster County, Iowa, where this incident happened.

A friend of his father was the husband of the victim.  The victim, a beautiful woman of thirty-five, with wavy brown hair died very suddenly.  In those times when there were no undertakers, it was said that some of the people who were buried weren't actually dead.  They called it "skin dead", which meant people could not feel life in a seemingly dead person, but they were really still alive.

The husband believing this is what happened to his wife, kept her body in their home for four days.  The mayor of the city in which he lived came to his home and told him he had to bury her regardless of what he believed.  The funeral took place the following day.  That night when he fell asleep, he dreamed she came to life and was calling for him.  He sat straight up in bed and screamed.  This startled him so that he just sat in a daze until the crack of dawn.

Suddenly he realized he had to find out or go insane.  Leaving the house in a hurry, he found his way to the grave yard.  The smell of fresh earth was in the early morning air as he dug with a furious determination.  Finally he struck something solid.  Clearing it off, he slowly opened the coffin.  Her lovely body was shattered beyond recognition.  Glass and long strands of her once beautiful hair were clutched in her hand and scattered around her.

It is believed that the minute her grave had been covered and there wasn't any means of breathing, she came back to life.  The coffins at that time were partly lined with glass.  In her frantic attempt to escape this fatal ending, she struggled only to be killed by the falling glass and lack of air.

This seems just as unreal to me as it probably does to you.  Things like this do not happen now and happened very frequently then.  Maybe this is why we find it so hard to believe.

This story was told to me by my grandfather, who later moved to Borst Valley in Trempealeau County.  Grandfather had passed to another world, but the story still lives with the family he left behind.


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