Anna Hockwalt

As mentioned in my previous articles, the fear of being buried alive was a very real one in the latter half of the 19th century, and the newspapers quickly realised that such stories made good copy.

I have already covered the case of Miss Amelia Hincks, who was almost subjected to this awful and horrible fate in 1858.

However, in 1884, a story from Ontario was widely reported in the newspapers on both sides of the pond, and the poor victim this tim was not so fortunate.

The Dundee Evening Telegraph covered the story in its edition of Thursday the 28th of February 1884:-


A sensation has been created at Dayton, Ontario, by the discovery of the fact that Miss Hockwalt, a young woman of high social connections, who was supposed to have died suddenly Jan. 10, was buried alive.

The circumstances of Miss Hockwalt’s death were peculiar.

It occurred the morning of the marriage of her brother to Miss Emma Schwind at Immanuel’s Church.

A prson tries to get out from a coffin
The Horror Of Premature Burial


Shortly before six o’clock, the young lady was dressing for the nuptials, and had gone into the kitchen. A few moments afterwards she was found sitting on a chair with her head leaning against the wail, and apparently lifeless.

Medical aid was summoned. Dr Jewett, after examination, pronounced her dead.


Mass was being read at the time in Immanuel Church, and it was proposed to postpone the wedding, but Father Hahne thought it best to continue, and the wedding was consummated in gloom by low mass.

An examination showed that Anna was of excitable temperament, nervous, and afflicted with sympathetic palpitation of the heart. Jewett thought this the cause of death.


The following day the girl was interred in Woodland.

The friends of Miss Hockwalt were unable to forget the terrible impression, and several ladies observed that her ears bore remarkably natural colour, and could not dispel the idea that she was not dead.

They conveyed their opinion to Anna’s parents, and the thought preyed upon them so that the body was taken from the grave.


It is stated that when the coffin was opened it was discovered that the supposed inanimate body had turned upon its right side.

The hair of the head had been torn out in handfuls, and the flesh of the fingers had been bitten from the bones.


The body was reinterred and efforts were made to conceal the case, but there are those who state that they saw the body and know the truth of the facts narrated.”