145-Year-Old Coffin Of Little Girl With Rose In Hand Found Under San Francisco Home

The well-preserved body of a little girl of around three years of age, lying in a lead and bronze coffin, has been found by San Francisco construction workers.

The unidentified girl has reportedly been dead for around 145 years, has long blond hair, and appears to have been from a family of means. The high end lead and bronze coffin and the undertaker’s fancy sealing job have preserved the little girl’s skin and hair, along with her burial flowers.

As reported by the SFGate, when looking at her through the two glass windows of the coffin, she looks like a little girl, not the 145-year-old remains of one. There is a pink rose in her right hand and lavender flowers are woven into her curly blond hair. Reportedly, over her heart is a cross, made of more lavender flowers and lying beside her body there are eucalyptus leaves.

The SFGate quotes Elissa Davey, founder of the Garden of Innocence charity that has, for two decades, buried the bodies of unidentified Californian children, as saying, “She’s wearing a long white dress.”

The site where the little girl was found is believed to be what was the old Odd Fellows Cemetery in San Francisco, where the bodies of 30,000 people were moved to a common burial plot in Colma in around 1920.

At that time, all the city’s graveyards were ordered closed, reportedly to make way for the living, but somehow, workers in charge of moving the bodies left this little girl behind. Because of this, Davey estimates that the little girl died around 145 years ago, as the cemetery was active from 1860 to 1890.

Nobody knows the little girl’s name or how she died, and she was lying underneath a homeowner’s concrete garage floor for decades, until workers started remodeling and discovered her lead and bronze coffin with their shovels on May 9. The home is located in the Lone Mountain neighborhood in the Richmond District of the city. As soon as the workers found the coffin, they notified the authorities.

The owner of the home, Ericka Karner, then found herself in something of a bind, as the medical examiner’s office told her the body was her responsibility, despite the fact the error that left her coffin behind was not. They told her the body is on private property and that the private property belongs to her.

Reportedly, an investigator for the medical examiner’s office did confirm its staff had been summoned to the site following the discovery of the coffin, but did not take the remains into custody.

Karner said she was quoted a price of $7,000 by one Colma undertaker, and when she called an East Bay archaeological company that handles historic artifacts, she got a much higher quote of $22,000.

Karner, who has been living in the home since 1976 said, “It didn’t seem right.”

“I understand if a tree is on your property, that’s your responsibility. But this is different. The city decided to move all these bodies 100 years ago, and they should stand behind their decision.”

Karner said she wanted to do the right thing for the little girl. She said the medical examiner’s office had broken the seal on the coffin to examine the body and that “time was beginning to be a factor.” However, a spokesman for the medical examiner’s office said only the covers over the coffin’s windows had been removed.

Unsure what to do about the situation, and with the coffin still lying in her backyard, Karner contacted the authorities at City Hall who put her in touch with Davey at the Garden of Innocence charity.

Karner told Davey, “That girl was somebody’s child.”

“You have to do the right thing.”

Davey got in touch with the Odd Fellows organization, who agreed to supply the necessary funds for the little girl’s body to be moved to a mortuary refrigerator in Fresno for storage.

“We had to pick her up,” Davey, said. “If people find out she’s lying at a construction site with no one around at night, you can bet somebody is going to steal her. People into the macabre. Into witchcraft. I wanted her out of there.”

As reported by the Mirror Online, next week Davey will travel to San Francisco for a meeting with the representatives of the Odd Fellows to arrange for a decent reburial for the little girl, who has been tentatively named Miranda by Karner’s two daughters.

“She’ll go home with the love of the community,” said Davey. “That’s all we want.”

Garden of Innocence hopes to uncover Miranda’s true identity and conduct a burial at the Greenlawn Cemetery in Colma this summer.

[Photo via Flickr by Tutincommon, cropped and resized/CC BY-NC 2.0]