Child Found Perfectly Preserved From the 1800s Gets a True Burial With a Headstone and Proper Name
Edith Howard Cook has been laid to rest one last time.
Cook first died in 1876, yet she was not given a proper funeral until her full name was discovered earlier this month. The 2-year-old’s body was first found underneath a San Francisco house in nearly perfect condition.
Homeowner Ericka Karner was doing some home renovations when she stumbled upon a tiny coffin with glass windows. The seal on the coffin was air-tight, leaving the body in pristine condition.
“It was a little bit of shock and now what do we do? There’s no handbook on what you can do,” Karner told KPIX-TV.
Once the coffin was discovered, Karner immediately called the county coroner’s office to report the body. She also called the Garden of Innocence, a nonprofit organization that buries the bodies of abandoned children.
While the identity of the child was unknown at the time, the organization still gave her a proper funeral. The 2-year-old was buried under the name Miranda in 2016.
“I actually asked my girls ‘if you were to name a beautiful little girl, what would it be’ and Katie, without even questioning, said Miranda,” Karner said to San Francisco television station KPIX.
After the little girl was officially put to rest, many volunteers worked together to figure out her true identity.
During their research, the volunteers were able to put together some pieces. The girl was named Edith Howard Cook and had been buried in the Oddfellow Cemetery. The cemetery was relocated to Colma, yet her body was left behind during the relocation.
The volunteers were even able to find a living relative thanks to DNA testing.
“I found a relative that I didn’t even know existed,” Edith’s great nephew, Peter Cook, told KPIX. “The sadness in this is the little girl didn’t live to be 3 years old.”
Along with a living relative, researchers were able to find information about Cook’s past. Her parents were well-known around San Francisco and traveled in important social circles. They also discovered that Cook died from harsh malnourishment.
This past month, Cook was finally laid to rest one last time. The little girl was given a proper headstone, complete with her name and picture.
“Very rarely are your results etched in stone,” Ed Green, a biomolecular engineering professor, told KPIX. “But here we are with the results finally done and etched in stone.