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vol. 4, p. 23
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 4 (1875-1878)


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< Baron de Palm`s Request (continued from page 4-22) >


Of Baron de Palm`s Cremation

Arrival of the Body at the Crematory–The Corpse not Properly Embalmed–Preparing It for the Furnace–The Desired White Heat
Special Dispatch to the Naw York Times.

Washington, Penn., Dec. 5.–The party of Incremationists having charge of the body of Baron de Palm reached here at noon to-day after an exceedingly uneventful journey, unless the fact that the Baron's corps had a companion in the baggage car may have bean mutually unexpected and welcome, and were received by Mr. John A. Wills, of Washington City, a son-in-law of Dr. Lemoyne. At the depot, Col. H. S. Olcott and Mr. Henry A. Newton, the two executors of the Baron's estate, and to whom he intrusted the duty of cremating his body, promptly dispatched the corpse in a hearse to the crematory, which is about a mile and a half from the town, in he charge of Mr. Buchhorst, the undertaker of Roosevelt Hospital, who has done all the embalming which was thought necessary. Later in the afternoon the whole party assembled at the crematory and the lids of the packing case and the rosewood coffin being removed, the upper part of the body was exposed to view. It was evident at once that the embalming process had not been so suceesful as could have been wished, though not by any means a decided failure. The agents used were finely powdered clay and carbonic acid. The body, however, presented a paintul and repulsive appearance, and Col. Olcott was evidently shocked, for he at once ordered the cofin to be reclosed. During the evening the body was privately removed from the coffin, wrapped in a winding sheet, placed in the iron framework which is to be used in putting it into the furnace, and laid out on the catafalque. The abdomen had previously bean filied with aloes, frankincense, myrrh, and other aromatics. A profusion of flowers was showered over the corpse.

The furnace was lighted up at 7 o'clock this morning, and by the evening had beon brought up by means of the blowing fan to a cherry heat. By tomorrow morning it is fully expected that the furnace will be at the desired white heat, of about two thousand degrees. The body will be placed in the furnace at 8 o'clock to-morrow morning, in the presence of a limited number of invited persons, thirty, all told, though a large crowd outside will doubtless be in attendance. The incremation will occupy nearly four hours. Thirty-six hours will elapse before the ashes can be removed. Comparatively few scientific or philosophic gentlemen have as yet put in an appearans. Among those here are Col. Olcott, Mr. Henry J. Newton, Mr. Evans, of Philadelphia; Dr. Olterson, of Brooklyn; Dr. Alletson, of Brooklyn ; Dr. Isi*in, of Boston, and Dr. King, of Pittsburg. A large delegation is expected in the morning, and there is a talk of excursion trains from Pistsburg, Wheeling and other places, They will all be disappointed, for they will not be able to see anything. In the afternoon there are to be adurerses in the Town Hall, and a cremation conference in the evening.

Burning a Baron

Preparations for the Cremation of the Late Baron De Palm

Washington, Pa., December 5.–At 6 o'clock last evening the corpse of the late Baron de Palm was taken across the Cortlandt street ferry from New York and put the Pennsylvania Railroad train for Pittsburg and Washington, Pa. The Baron's executors, Colonel Henry S. Olcott and Henry J. Newton, went on the same train, and arrived here this forenoon. Newspaper correspondents from New York, Philadelphia and Pittsburg are thick as blackberries. The scientific and official persons who were invited to view the cremation will come to-night. A crowd of people was assembled this morning at the depot in Washington, where the citizens are more or less shocked by the preparations. for the strangs roasting, These preparations are very simple. The crematory is situated a mile and a half from the heart of the town, on the farm of Dr. Le Moyne, who built it. The building comprises two apartments, one in which the remains of the Baron have been this afternoon exposed, the other occupied by the furnace which is to incinerate him. There is peep-hole in the iron door of the furnace through which the scientific gentlemen will be permitted to behold the gradual reduction of its occupant to ashes. The fire was lighted at 2 o'clock this aftermpon, and will be tended all to night, so everything is making ready for the first carefal and inodorous baking of a human being in an oven which will have been accomplished on the American continent.

Ashes to Ashes

Cremation of the Body of Baron Von Palm
Flowers, Odors, Herbs, Incense and Levity.
What Colonel Olcott Knows About Burning.

Washington, Pa., Dec. 6, 1876

The day broke beautifully clear and bright. The drive from the Valentine House to the Cemetery, at seven o'clock this morning, showed the neighboring hills wrapped in a shroud of white hard snow. The sharp wind which came whistling through the leafless branches of the bare gaunt trees, seemed to urge on the horses which dashed up Gallows Hill at their fastest pace. Already there Colonel Olcots was preparing for the great event of the day; trankincense, myrrn, accacia cinnamon and other fragrant spices were put into the breast of the late Baron and scattered profusely over the body.

There had been a great shrinkage of the body, the weight of which, estimated by several of the physicians, was nearly 100 pounds, while the Baron in his lifetime weighed abous 190 pounds. The corpse which was slid into the reto.. only weighed a little over ninety pounds. The jaw had not dropped, as in the case of a skeleton, and the cavities of the checks were still filled in by dark flesh, but there was a skeleton look about the eyes ; the globes having collapsed and the fluids transuded, only two horrid blank cavities were left, with the exception of the membranes, which upon a close inspection were found to have been preserved in a dry siate. The head was scantlly covered with dry, dusty gray hair, which also surrounded the lower jaw and neck. The fatty matter the nose, which was very large, having disappeared, left only the bones and cartilage, cevered by dried inlegument the shrunken and blackened lips were <... continues on page 4-24 >

Editor's notes

  1. Of Baron de Palm`s Cremation by unknown author, New York Times, The, New York, Wednesday, Dec.6, 1876
  2. Burning a Baron by unknown author, World, The, Wednesday, December 6, 1876
  3. Ashes to Ashes by unknown author, New York Herald, New York, Thursday, December 7, 1876