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Truth is stranger than fiction


A copy of an article in one of the History Center’s collections recently surfaced. The article is undated but appears to have been reprinted in The Shreveport Journal from a Bossier Banner issue of March 3rd with no year indicated.

“The Bossier Banner of Benton, in a recent issue, published the following under the caption “Strange Incident is Brought to Light.”

“A strange occurrence that happened near Plain Dealing was brought to light recently when an old newspaper clipping was found by Mrs. Luther Boggs of Plain Dealing. The clipping at length is printed below and was taken from the New Orleans Picayune of July 8, 1887.”



“Death Double Photographs Itself Within a Tomb. Of all the curious incidents related in public prints or otherwise, none, to me, seems more curious and inexplicable than the one I shall here attempt to describe exactly as it was given to me a few weeks ago by three of the parties to whom I shall refer.”

“The fact—for it is a fact beyond all question—is so novel and inconceivable that I would not dare to state it as a truth were it not fully subdstantiated.”

“In June of 1883 Dr. A. H. Herring, after a lingering illness, died at Red Land in Bossier Parish in La. He was about 40 years of age and had been in full practice there as a physician for several years. Aware of his condition, he requested that his body after death be placed in a temporary brick vault above ground, and at some proper time he be carried to Georgia and interred in the burial ground of his family. Purposing to carry out his wishes the doctor’s body was put by friends into a metallic case which was closed hermetically in the usual way, and the case placed in a box of pine plank.”

“A vault of brick work above ground having been prepared to receive it, the box containing to casket was enclosed and the whole covered outside with a plastering of lime cement.”

“The bricks on top of the vault were held in position by a rough pine plank beneath—the plank being supported on the inside by short, triangular, roof-shaped pieces of timber and thus when completed the whole exterior was brick covered with cement, the interior having immediately and directly above and over the body, first, the metallic lid of the casket, next the pine plank of box top, and above that the rough plank supporting the brick roofing.”

“So disposed of, the body remained for about two years and a half, when the family, for some reason, concluded not to remove it to Georgia, but have it buried under ground, as is the custom in that high land country, and Samuel A. Boggs, a neighbor and friend of the family, was requested to superintend the final interment in the Red Land cemetery.”

There is quite a bit more to this story, so be sure to read next week’s column or visit the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center to find out what happened next.


Ann Middleton is Director of the Bossier Parish Library Historical Center. She can be reached at (318) 746-7717 or by e-mail at amiddlet@state.lib.la.us

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Sean Green is managing editor of the Bossier Press-Tribune.