Odd Last Requests: Post-Mortem Crankism (1895)

From The Wichita Daily Eagle, Aug. 2, 1895:

Curious Wishes Made by Persons When Dying.
Requests Have Been Made to Provide Drinks, Shaves, Rides, and Music for Mourners-Eccentric to the Last.
     The world is full of cranks, as everybody knows, but the great majority of them confine their eccentricities to their life upon this sphere. Few of them make arrangements to keep themselves before the public eye after death, but the few who do so exhibit a fertility of ideas that would have been of great value to them in the advertising line during their lives.
    The latest exponent of post-mortem crankism was a queer old farmer of Kent, Saratoga county, this state, who recently departed this life, says the New York Advertiser. He left explicit directions in his will as to his burial, the most noteworthy being that he should have his favorite pair of rawhide boots as a part of his grave clothes and that he should be taken to the cemetery in the family sleigh. His wishes were carried out to the letter and he was whirled up to his last resting place to the accompaniment of jingling bells and buried with his boots on.
     A Brooklyn saloonkeeper, who was a jolly in life as he was fat, left directions with his widow as he gasped ‘Good-by’ to set aside one hundred dollars of his estate with which to provide beer for his friends on the dreary drive to the cemetery. The widow not only provided every carriage with fifty bottles of the cheering beverage, but drew on the saloon stock for two kegsful, which were emptied at the side of the coffin before it was taken from the house.
     Another saloonkeeper, a Staten Islander, whose place was a famous resort for fisherman and was himself an ardent angler, often said that he would never lie content in the cold ground. So he made arrangements to have his body cremated and imposed the dying injunction on his friends to see that his ashes were scattered about on the salt water he loved so well, from the head of the statue of Liberty. His wishes were religiously carried out and the funeral party returned to his old saloon and drank ‘his health,’ as provided as in his will.
     Still another saloonkeeper, whose place was well over on the east side of town and who was an inveterate fisherman also, had his ashes committed to the deep. He was a member of a little fishing club that went down in a tug to Romer Shoals every Sunday during the season. He found when on his deathbed that he had but fifty dollars beyond his cremation fees and decided to give the ‘boys’ a good time with it. He ordered that the money be applied to the hiring and stocking of the tug for the first trip after his death and asked that his ashes be taken along and dumped overboard at the shoals while a schooner of beer was drunk to his memory. It was done as he ordered.
     A female keeper of a tramps’ lodging house in Montreal is about the only woman on record who devised for herself a funeral on other than conventional lines. She left orders that all her lodgers be provided with a shave, a breakfast and a high hat with mourning ribbons, and that they all follow her body to the grave behind two brass bands. The bands were to play the ‘Dead March in Saul‘ on the outgoing trip, but to play, ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me‘ all the way home. The churches attempted to stop the carrying out of her remarkable injunctions, but were unsuccessful, and the old woman was serenaded as per desire.
     The most horrible of all these grewsome provisions was that made by a Virginia colonel, who died about twenty-five years ago, in Amelia county. He demanded, under penalty of cutting off from all his possessions, that his widow have him put in an open coffin in a clump of woods near the house, and leave him there for six weeks. Every morning and evening of that time she was to come to him and brush his hair and whiskers. Luckily the colonel shuffled off his mortal coil in the middle of a very cold winter, so he ‘kept.’ His widow was able to carry out his wishes, therefore, and came into all his property.
     There are quite a number of cases of religious enthusiasts who have demanded to be buried in a standing position, so as to be all ready for the judgment day, and a negro in South Carolina was buried feet up because he believed that the flat earth would be turned upside down at the first blast of Gabriel’s trumpet and he wanted to be ready right side up.
     People innumerable have had valuables or momentoes buried with them at their request, and a short time ago in France a dying woman had her pet cat killed so that it might be buried in her arms.”