January 01, 2011

Atherton's Russians



In 1887, at the age of 29, Gertrude Atherton became a widow. Her 35-year-old husband, George Atherton, died of liver failure at sea, en route to Chile.

George’s body was delivered unceremoniously to her home in San Francisco – in a barrel of rum. Not expecting the cask to contain anything but liquor, Atherton’s butler opened the barrel and found George’s body… with his heart cut out.

Rather than burying George at sea, the ship’s captain had opted to embalm him in rum. Atherton’s heart, legal proof of his death, was “placed in a jar filled with alcohol” and deposited in a safe at the Banco Edwards in Valparaiso, Chile.


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