The Chase Burial Vault: The Family That Came Closer To Death

We all weep over those who have passed to the grave. We grieve for the kings, governors and cultures we cherish. We wish they were still alive so we could meet them and shake their hands. When the dead choose to sleep in their eternal rest rather than wandering around, people lose their minds. In Barbados of West Indies, a similar event took place in 19th-century. It left witnesses puzzled, interested, and exhausted. The Chase Family Burial Vault serves as the core of all urban folklore about coffins, and everything you can do to them. Through anecdotes by Thomas H. Orderson (acting Rector of Christ Church), the story made its way into popular culture.

Anecdotes ranged from article to piece and paper to paper. From “The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction” by Reuben Percy to Nathan Lucas who swore to be present at the scene of the odd occurrence having written an unpublished personal account of the incident. Over the centuries many people have claimed to have seen the vault, or know someone who has. Let us consider the mysteries that the vault contains.

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Tale of Woe and Mystery

Colonel Thomas Chase, an affluent man, purchased a large crypt, originally built in 1724, to be used by his family for their burials. The vault was placed in the Christ Church Parish Church on Church Hill, Barbados. Misfortune struck him early and by February 1808, the earthly crib welcomed its first resident—Mary Chase—a baby. Soon, in July 1812, the Colonel’s teenage daughter, Dorcas Chase, rested with her sweet sister having starved herself to death. Colonel Chase, who was also kept in the vault, committed suicide a month later. Six men were able to test their strength with a metal coffin. The men carried it to the crypt where they retorted a strange tale. The laborers described how the coffins were moved and turned upside down. The vault was empty and the account was closed. Two more Chase children joined the Chase family in 1816. The men witnessed again the disarray caused by the metal caskets as they were being taken down. The word spread quickly and fear gripped the entire city. While visiting her relatives in their graveyard, one woman claimed to have heard monstrous voices coming from Chase Vault.

Christ Church Parish Church, Oistins (Barbados of West Indies)

The Case Of The Moving Caskets

Another death was caused by the July 1819. While the relative was brought to the grave, the tombs refused again to rest where they had been. Each one was scattered around the crypt in a manner that was pleasing to it. Lord Combermere of Barbados, the Governor, was not happy to be bothered by decaying bones. He had put sand around the coffins, and sealed the vault with his signet rings. He devised it to ensure that the criminal responsible for the fraud could be caught and punished the next time the seal is broken. The vault was finally opened in April 1820. Some believe it was earlier. However, some suspect that the men broke the seal unbroken and attempted to enter. The boulder wouldn’t move. The men finally managed to push the boulder open after hours of struggling. The coffin. The coffin. Lord Combermere, the men, were shocked to see such an anarchic display of graves instead of the well-sealed entrance. The Governor got fed up and ordered the graves to be moved from Chase Vault to different locations in Christ Church Cemetery. General James Edward Alexander published the first official account of the incidents in 1833 in his book “Transatlantic Sketches”, following which new testaments were added in 1844 and 1860.

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Is It Possible That The Dead Are Still Living?

The question remains open to debate, with debtors from renowned skeptics to professional exorcists. However, many theories have been offered for why these strange things happen. One of the most prominent causes was earthquakes. However, this claim was disproved as no other vault had ever been subject to these disturbances. Floods are sometimes cited, but the seal was not damaged when it was opened in 1820. Some blame slaves, while others give a more creative explanation. Because Colonel Chase was known for severely treating his servants and slaves with cruelty, many people claimed that they wanted to kill them.

To show the movement of the tombs as published

The movement of the tombs as published in “Death’s Deeds” Folklore-A Quarterly Review, Volume 18 of 1907

Arthur Conan Doyle was the author of Sherlock Holmes. He speculated that it might be animal magnetism. Animal magnetism, otherwise known as, mesmerism, was a theory suggested by Franz Mesmer, a German doctor, who believed all living things contain an invisible natural force—Lebensmagnetismus—akin to the soul which he thought of as having magnetic and healing properties but this vitalist theory was a radical “unscientific” claim and was soon discarded. On the other hand, skeptic Joe Nickell agrees with Andrew Lang, a Scottish folklorist who discovered that Rector Orderson’s anecdotes seem to have conflicting accounts and when investigated do not hold substantial. However, just because the skeptics think it is false, does not mean that we agree with them. Because we trust our readers, they will be able to determine if it’s true or false.

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