One of the reasons I got into genealogy research as a hobby is Aunt Anna Regina’s fault.
Anna Regina Artman, nee Wand, was born in 1823. A great-great-great-great aunt, she likely would have been forgotten in a long list of similar names except for the very odd, very unusual matter of her burial that set her apart.
In 1851, Anna Regina, emigrating from Germany with several other members of the Wand family, died while aboard the ship traveling from Europe to America. Instead of burying her at sea, her body was preserved in a barrel of salt, and she was buried when they reached land.
Was this a regular thing? Were bodies, per the deceased (or family’s) wish, often preserved for burial until land was reached? I don’t know. I haven’t found much information, although Admiral Horatio Nelson’s body was preserved in brandy when he died at sea in 1805. Was this event inspiration for similar occurrences later in time? I can see this as a possibility for wealthy or influential people, but for a young German immigrant mother, it seems unlikely.
Now, like many family legends, I can find no actual documentation of this strange fact, and so I cannot completely ascertain its verity. But if Anna Regina’s burial is only a legend, then it must be asked: how did such a rumor start? Maybe we’ll never know. But all things considered, it was that weird fact that intrigued me and made me wonder if there were more unusual happenstances within my family tree to discover.
Are there any strange death stories in your family tree? And have you ever heard of any other death-at-sea stories like this?