There is an old Irish legend that tells the story of Margorie McCall, also known as the Lady with the Ring.
The legend starts with Margorie’s death. She supposedly died of fever back in 1705 and her funeral was organized quickly out of fear that the sickness might spread among other people. That same night, a couple of thieves decided to dig her up with the intention to steal the fairly expensive ring she had on her hand, and sell her body for additional profit.
The body snatchers were in for a big surprise, though. Upon trying to cut her finger off to get the ring out, Margorie suddenly woke up with a scream. Some say that the combination of shock and fear was too strong and the thieves died on spot; others suggest that they immediately ran away and never touched a grave in their lives again. Margorie walked home, and her husband John died when he saw her, and he was later buried in the same grave she got out of.
The woman later married another man and had more children. When she died for real, her body was laid to rest in the same cemetery where she was previously buried—Shankill Cemetery, which is located in Ireland. A stonemason by the name of William Graham made a tombstone for her that reads the following: “Margorie McCall. Lived Once, Buried Twice”. He placed it on top of her grave, where it still remains.
The story about this Irish woman has been disputed, but the following ten cases of people who also woke up in their coffins were confirmed as real historic events.
10. Essie Dunbar
Essie Dunbar was 32-years-old in 1915 when her death was announced due to an epilepsy fit. Her body was placed in a coffin and the burial was scheduled for 11:00 a.m. the following day. This delay was necessary because Essie’s sister lived in the next town and she wanted to come and see her sister for one last time. She arrived just minutes after her sister’s body was lowered down into the ground, but they pulled it back so she could see her again for that last time. When they opened up the coffin, Essie sat up in the coffin and simply smiled. You can imagine the reactions of everyone who attended the funeral. All three ministers fell inside the grave, and one of them had his ribs broken because the other two literally stepped over him in the rush to escape. Everyone else, including Essie’s sister, ran away as quickly as possible. Essie did not make things easier for them to really comprehend what actually happened, because she ran after the others. Even after the years passed, some people continued to believe that Essie was a zombie.
Essie Dunbar passed either in 1955 or 1962 according to different sources. After her death, a newspaper published an article about the woman from South Carolina who had two funerals.
H/T – Source
9. Matthew Wall
There is village in Hertfordshire, UK—Braughing—that celebrates the Old Man’s Day on 2nd of October annually.
Despite its name, it is not in honor of the elderly male locals, but in remembrance of Matthew Wall, who was nearly buried alive on that date in 1571. He was soon to be a groom, but died suddenly, or at least that is what everyone thought. The funeral procession carried the casket when one of the men slipped and the coffin fell down. Wall woke up from the coma he was actually in and started to bang on the casket door, screaming to let him out. He got married after all and had two sons. 24 years after that faithful day, he died for real. Wall left a will which stated that every year on the 2nd of October the church bell has to ring for a funeral and for a wedding immediately after. He also insisted that Fleece Lane, the place where his coffin was dropped, had to be swept from all the leaves on that same day. This seems strange because they were the reason he was saved in the first place. Amazingly, the people of the village still pay their respect to Wall’s last requests on the specific day the church bell rings and the local children and the priests clean Fleece Lane of their leaves.
H/T – Source
8. Mrs. Blunden
Mrs. Blunden, who was living in Hampshire, was declared for dead and had the misfortune to wake up inside a casket not once, but twice. On the 15th of July 1674 she got very sick and fell into a heavy sleep after she drank a dose of poppy water. Her body became very cold and she wasn’t breathing. Even more trouble was that she had no pulse or detectable heartbeat. Due to these symptoms, she was declared dead and soon buried, despite the fact that her husband wanted to be present at the funeral.
However, the body of Mrs. Blunden was exhumed because a few children reported that they heard noises coming from the fresh grave. She obviously had awoken inside the coffin, because her whole body was wounded and scratched from her attempts to get out. But at the moment of the exhumation she had no signs of life whatsoever and there was nothing left to do but to bury her again. The coroner of the county wanted to inspect the body the following day and when they pulled the coffin out again, it was clear that she had woken up again because she had even more visible injuries and her clothes were torn off. The poor woman even bit her mouth to point it bled. The odd thing is that after the first exhumation they left a guard by the grave in case she wakes up again, but he did not hear a thing. It was later speculated that he simply left and there was nobody to hear her screams.
H/T – Source
7. Unnamed Girl
A young girl was considered to be dead after suffering from diphtheria during a vacation at South Carolina’ Edisto Island in the 1850s. After declaring her death, her funeral was organized very quickly in order to prevent spreading the disease. The burial took place in a local family’s mausoleum.
The mausoleum was opened again for the first time years after that when the family had to put in the body of one of their sons that lost his life in the Civil War. When they opened it, the girl’s skeleton was found just behind the door, meaning that she woke up in her casket and tried to get out, but there was no way she could accomplish that.
H/T – Source
6. Margaret ‘Maggie’ Dickson
Concealing a pregnancy was considered a crime a few centuries ago and Margaret Dickson, nicknamed “Maggie”, was sentenced to death by hanging on the 2nd of September 1721. The woman from Edinburgh and her husband were separated and she started working at an inn, where she had an affair with the owner’s son. She got pregnant from this relationship, but she told nobody out of fear that she might lose her job. When she gave birth to her child, it was too weak, and it died after a couple of days.
Since nobody knew about the pregnancy, she could not bury the baby, and she dumped the body in the nearby river. Unfortunately for her, the body was found later and it was traced back to the mother. After Maggie was hanged, her body was laid in a casket and during the transportation to the graveyard, which was six miles outside of the town, she woke up.
Her “resurrection” was considered a Godly act and everyone thought that she was given a second chance in life. She and her husband reunited and had more children.
H/T – Source
5. Unnamed French Gendarme
On the 17th of March 1889 a newspaper called the Press Democrat wrote the story of a French gendarme (the French word for police officer) who was very close to being buried alive. Despite that his name was not mentioned, it was said that the gendarme from an area near Grenoble drank too much potato brandy and fell into a state of very deep sleep. After a whole day of not waking up, his friends checked him and found that his body was very stiff.
Assuming that he died, his funeral was organized and in the moment his coffin was lowered into the ground, he woke up and started banging on the wooden door of the casket, shouting so that people would him out. The undertakers stopped what they were doing and opened the casket right away, but it was too late—the gendarme managed to hit his head so hard inside the coffin that he died instantly.
H/T – Source
4. Eleanor Markham
Eleanor Markham’s death was declared in 1894 in her village named Sprakers, located outside of New York. A couple of weeks prior to that day, she had complained about having heart problems and the local Dr. Howard visited her. Her health condition became worse and worse—and in the morning of July 8, the doctor announced her death. Her death certificate was prepared and her funeral was scheduled for two days later.
During the transportation of her coffin, Eleanor woke up and made a noise, after which the casket was opened up and the surprised woman exclaimed that they were going to bury her alive. Dr. Howard was present among the funeral attendants and calmed her down, explaining that the mistake would be corrected. Eleanor later said that she was conscious through the whole funeral preparation and heard everything that was discussed around her.
H/T – Source
3. Unnamed Three-Year-Old Boy
Mrs. J. Burney’s three-year-old boy stood up in his coffin not long before he was about to be buried in Butte, California on the 25th of April 1913. The boy stared at Mrs. L. Smith, his 81-years-old grandmother, who died instantly from the shock she understandably experienced. Moments later, the boy fell down into the coffin again; he was unconscious. A doctor declared him dead.
This story is very similar to the one about Kelvin Santos, a 2-year-old kid from Brazil who about to be buried, but then the boy stood up in the coffin prior to the burial and asked his dad if he could have some water and fell back again. Kelvin did not wake up again.
H/T – Source
2. Octavia Hatcher
Octavia and James Hatcher lost their only son Jacob in January 1891. The mother was severely depressed after that and did want to leave the bed. She became ill and fell into a coma. On the 2nd of May 1891 she was declared dead and buried shortly thereafter. However, a few days later her husband’s family members noticed that a few other local people who were in a coma recovered and woke up. One of the suggestions about the strange phenomenon was that it was cause by a bite of the tsetse fly, which could afflict a person with sleeping sickness.
James knew that his wife was probably buried alive and rushed to dig her up, but it was too late. Octavia obviously had woken inside the coffin, because the inner lining of the coffin was all torn and her hands were covered with blood. Her husband buried her again and had a monument made, picturing her holding their son.
Pikeville, Kentucky locals claim that sound of a crying woman or a little kitten could be heard from Octavia’s grave, and some even say that on the anniversary of her burial the statue faces the other way. The statue has been vandalized. The arm holding the baby was broken off and is now at the statue’s feet.
James Hatcher feared that the same thing that happened to his wife could also happen to him, so long before he died he had a special coffin made that could be opened from the inside.
H/T – Source
1. Madame Bobin
The Hereford Times published a story on the 16th of November 1901. It was about Madame Bobin – a woman who passed away from yellow fever after returning to the French city of Pauillacin from Senegal. Her body became stiff and her face color was extremely pale. She was buried, but later a nurse who saw the woman’s body prior to the burial said that she was not that cold and also that she had noticed slight movement in her lower chest. The nurse said that Madame Bobin was likely buried alive.
The woman’s father decided to exhume the body of his daughter and everyone was shocked to see that Madame Bobin gave birth to a child inside the coffin. The autopsy later concluded that she did not have the fever and was alive during her burial. She died of suffocation inside.
Her family later took the case to the court and they were rewarded with 8,000 francs.
H/T – Source