Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Harvey Leach, the Gnome Fly or Monkey Man

Occasionally a character emerges in the archives which one has to follow through ... one such is Harvey Leach, an irascible dwarf comedian of the early Victorian period, best remembered as the 'Gnome Fly:


A curious performance was attempted last night at this theatre. Mr. Yates, in his constant search after novelty, has availed himself of the services of a Milanese dwarf, and as the little man's personal merits are not much ibn his favour, he has presented him successively in the shape of a baboon and a bluebottle fly. Signor HERVIO NANO acquits himself to admiration in both characters, and it is a question whether his mischievous tricks ni the form of the ape, or his agile flight in the personification of the fly, are most amusing. The audience were equally delighted with both, and every chattering of the brute and flutter of the insect brought down thunders of applause. For the purpose of making the doctrine of the transmigration of souls on which the piece turns well understood by the gallery, Signor HERVIO first appears in his proper shape as Alnain, the King of the Gnomes. He then for the purposes of serving his friend, the son of the Grand Mogul, shoots his soul into the body of the King's baboon, and in that disguise performs every trick that a baboon can be guilty of, with a fidelity to nature that shows how closely man and the monkey are allied. Though he looks and acts becomingly in the character he is compelled to abandon it, because the Queen of the Peris counteracts his plans, and causes the Princess, whom he wishes to disenchant, to be locked up in a dreadful tower. He transfuses his spirit into the body of a fly, and buzzes about in the best bluebottle fashion. He flies on invisible wires from the stage to the lofty turret where the Princess is encased, delivers her from the enchantment, and then to prove that he is no impostor, runs up the side pillars of the stage, crosses the ceiling feet up, and descends at the other side. The Queen of the Peris cannot withstand such devotion - the lovers are united and the fly reassumes human shape. The performances are, in fact, very extraordinary. MAZURIER himself could not play the ape with more agility, and as to the fly, the personifcation was so perfect that if it were summer the flies themselves might mistake him for one of their companions.

The Morning Post, Thursday, February 01, 1838


Last night the theatre was in a state of considerable excitement, in consequence of Hervio Nano (better known as Harvey Leach), the dwarf, not appearing to sustain the character he was announced for in the bills of the day, in a new piece called the Demon Dwarf. Mr. Simpson, the stage manager, explained to the audiecne the cuase of Mr. Leech's refusal to perform, stating that he claimed unjustly 10l. which had been deducted from the receipts of the previous Saturday, as Mr. Yates' share of extra supernumeraries, &c, Leach being engaged by Yates to perform. Mr. Hooper (of the Theatre Royal, Drury-lane, who is also engaged by Mr. Yates) stepped forward, corroborated the stage-manager's explanation, and censured Mr. Leach for his conduct. The Demon Dwarf, however, declared that he would not stir until he got the 10l. and used sundry "demoniacal" expressions, such as liar, &c., jumped on the edge of the lower box circle and addressed the gallery with much emphasis. This procured him considerable applause, which was followed out by the gods, upwards of 1000 in number, tearing up the benches and hurling them into the pit (first having given notice to the pittites who scrambled into the boxes). The work of devastation then began in real earnest. Chandeliers, forms, &c. were a complete wreck; fortunately no person was injured. After some resistance the little man was taken into custody, and now remains in durance vile till responsible bail is given for his liberation.

The Standard, Thursday, October 04, 1838


Harvey Leach, the 'Gnome Fly' , was brought up on a warrant by Herdsfield, charged with having assaulted a young man, named John Williams, residing in Water-lane. The complainant stated that as he was ridign a valuable pony down Ludgate-hill, on the 15th of November, he overtook the defendant who was driving a lady in a chaise, nad seeing an opportunity to pass, he attempted to do so. This gave offence to Mr. Leach who swerved from the [illegible] to throw him down on the pavement, and did so. The pony's hock was cut. He went up to the chaise, to ask why he had served him so, and immediately received a cut from the defendant's whip, which laid his cheek open. He approached him again, and received a cut over the hand which drew blood; and, on going to stop the defendant's horse, till he got his address, the defendant cut him round the neck, and pulled him off the pony. Two gentlemen had given him their cards, but neither of them was able to attend that morning.
    The defendant denide the charge and said he would draw a refutation from the complainant himself in five minutes. His questions were for the purpose of showing that the young man had followed him from Cheapside to Ludge-hill; had holden up his hand to draw attention to the defendant; that the whip was intended to be applied to defendant's horse to extricate him from the complainant's hold; and that complainant gave defendant's horse a thump in the face. The complainant, however, answered none of the questions to Mr. Harvey Leach's satisfaction, and Mr. Alderman Gibbs ordered the defendant to find bail for his appearance at the London Sessions on Saturday next. 

[found guilty at Sessions and paid fine of £20; he had the option of payinmg 10l. to the prosecutor instead, but preferred to pay the full fine]

The Morning Chronicle, Thursday, January 3, 1839


This was an action of trespass by the celebrated Hervio Nano, otherwise the Gnome Fly, otherwise the Dwarf, otherwise the Demon, and really Harvey Leach, in which he sought to recover compensation from the manager of the Birmingham theatre and a police-officer named Roch, for arresting and handcuffing him, and causing him to be taken to the watch-hous, &c.  

The Era, Sunday, June 16, 1839

Harvey Leach, Bedford-street, Strand, Comedian - declared insolvent.

'It appeared that the insolvent had travelled about with a company of eight persons visiting France and other parts of the continent. He had likewise gone to America. He said his company consisted of about eight persons, except when he had "stars."

The Morning Chronicle, Saturday, December 31, 1842

His debts were 266l. arising out of law proceedings in an action he had brought for false imprisonment against Mr. Simpson, the manager of the Birmingham Theatre, and a constable named Rook.

The Standard, Thursday, January 19, 1843

Harvey Leach, the legless dwarf, who you must remember at the Adelphi, is exhibiting here in a melodrammatic vaudeville called Un Conte de Fée assisted by three wonderful juvenile American acrobats.  ... The drama possesses some merit, but is written as a medium for the exhibition of this peculiar style of performance.

The Morning Post, Saturday, December 28, 1844


The sight-seers of the metropolis have recently been gratified by the exhibition of a being called "The Wild Man of the Prairies" who has held his levees at the Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly. The advertisements relative to this singular specimen of nature led the public to believe that he was a most mysterious creature, half animal, half human, "the long sought link between man and the ourang-ourang, which naturalists have for years decided does exist, but which has hitherto been undiscovered." Thus began the advertisement which had the effect of attracting several visitors to the exhibition, but unfortunately for its complete success one too many. A correspondent of the Times, who charactistically signs himself "Open-eye, paid his shilling and was shown into the sanctum of the monster. He at once discovered the "Wild Man of the Prairies" to be no othjer than exceedingly tame dwarf Hervio Nano, otherwise Harvey Leach, who about ten years since performed the part of a blue-bottle at the Adelphi, Surrey, and other minor theatres.

The Manchester Times and Gazette, Saturday, September 5, 1846


In our obituary  has been already recorded the death of Mr. Potter, of the University College Hospital, in consequence of having pricked his finger while dissecting. The subject was, it appears, the late Harvey Leach, the well-known Gnome Fly and Man Monkey, who bequeathed his body over to his most intimate friend and companion, Mr. Potter, for dissection and he, whilst engaged in his labour, pricked his finger with a lancet. 

Daily News Tuesday, May 25, 1847

See also this biographical entry

Sunday, 12 May 2013

The Testimony of Reuben Room

Reuben Room examined: I was in the employ of Mr. F. Green, as gravedigger in 1837 and continued in his employed for about six years. Our mode of working the ground was not commencing at one end and working to the other, but digging wherever it was ordered, totally regardless whether the ground was full or not; for instance, to dig a grave seven feet deep at a particular spot, I have often disturbed and mutilated seven or eight bodies; that is, I have severed head, arms, legs, or whatever came in my way, with a crowbar, pickaxe, chopper and saw. Of the bodies, some were quite fresh and some decomposed. I have had as much as 1.5cwt. of human flesh on what we term the ‘beef board’ at the foot of the grave at one time. I have often put a rope round the neck of the corpse to drag it out of the coffin, fastening one end of the rope to a tombstone so as to keep the corpse upright to get at the coffin from underneath to make room for the flesh of other bodies. The coffins were taken away and burnt with pieces of decomposed flesh adhering thereto. I have taken up half a ton of wood out of one grave, because I had to take out two tiers of coffins, some of which were quite fresh and we used to cut them up for struts, used for shoring up the graves. We had as many as 50 or 60 sides of coffins always in use to keep the ground from falling in when digging. We have buried as many as 45 bodies in one day, besides still-borns. I and Tom Smith kept an account one year; we buried 2,017 bodies besides still-borns, which are generally enclosed in deal coffins. We have taken them up when they have been in the ground only two days, and used them to light fires with. I have been up to my knees in human flesh by jumping on the bodies so as to cram them into the least possible space at the bottom of the graves in which fresh bodies were afterwards placed. We covered over the flesh at the bottom by a small layer of mould. I have ruptured myself in dragging a heavy corpse out of the coffin. It was a very heavy one. It slipped from my hold lifting it by the shoulders. The corpse was quite fresh. These occurrences took place every day.

The Times, 5 March 1845

Spa Fields Burial Ground

Mr COMBE: You deny what has been stated; now as the report in The Times contains a true version of what occurred, I will read the statements seriatim and say how they are incorrect. The report says that about 1,500 bodies are annually interred there. Is that the fact? It is Mr. Watts who says it.

Mr. Bird: Not more, I think, than 1,350, but the report further states that the burial ground is not capable of containing more than 3,000 bodies, whereas it can hold 25,000.

Mr. COMBE: Why, how many do you put in one grave. The ground is not quite two acres in superficial extent.

Mr. Bird: We put eight bodies in one grave. (Sensation)

Mr. COMBE: Eight bodies in one grave! How deep are they?

Mr. Bird: Oh, about eight feet deep, your Worship.

Mr. COMBE: And do you mean to tell me you put eight coffins into a grave eight feet deep?

Mr. Bird: Yes, I do. We put in two coffins of adults lengthwise, and then put three children's coffins at each end.

Mr. COMBE: How often do you remove the dead to make room for more?

Mr. Bird: We do not remove the bodies of adults.

Mr. COMBE: That seems to imply that you do remove those of children?

Mr. Bird: Not until they are decayed - when our rod goes through them. (Great sensation).

Mr. Vinall then observed that his brother had been a lesseefor only the last three years - he was lessee under a lunatic gentleman, who held the ground from the Marquis of Northampton.

Mr. COMBE: has the ground been consecrated?

Mr. Vinall: I don't think it has.

Several voices - It has not.

Mr. COMBE: How long has it been a burial place?

Mr. Bird: For the last 50 years. In answer to further questions he said that the average number of bodies interred there was 28 a week, but admitted that sometimes 26 were interred there in a single day.

Mr. Wakeling: - Why, 29 were buried there last Sunday.

Mr. Bird being asked if he had the burial registration book said he did keep such a book, but did not bring it with him. He positively denied that human bodes had been burnt there.

Mr. COMBE then read from the newspaper Inspector Penny's statement on Tuesday, which set forth that he had often visited the place and repeated seen sound and fresh coffins burning in the 'bone-house' of every size, and that the smell was intolerable.

Inspector Penny: And I will now depose to it.

Mr. Bird: Why, you have not been there for a long time.

The Inspector smile; upon which

Mr. Macey said, that at his request, the inspector had often gone there in every variety of disguise.

Mr. COMBE then read the statement of Walters, the engine-keeper, which declared that he had gone to the bone-house on two occasions on alarms of fire, and had with great difficulty obtained admission, the last time was the 2d of last month. In the bone-house were as many coffins as three men could carry; great lumps of pitch adhered to the chimney, which one of the men said was from burning pitched coffins; the smell was horrible and seemed as if of burnt flesh or bones.

Mr. Bird: We admit that coffins are burnt, but deny that bones or flesh are.

Mr. COMBE: What class of persons is buried in this place?

Mr. Bird: The middling and lower classes.

Here ther lady who it will be recollected made a statement on Tuesday last, came forward and said that she lived in a house near the graveyard, but had been obliged to leave it, as well as many others persons in the neighbourhood, in consequence of the intolerable and unearthly stench proceeding from the bone-house. One frosty night the smell was still worse than usual. She and her son ascended the top of the wash-house, which commands a view of the ground, thick volumes of smoke and sparks were issuing from the chimney of the bone-house; she saw two men carrying something in a basket which appeared very soft and to shake; took it to be human flesh. Her tenants who lived near the place were constantly complaining of illness from the smell. The weather became hot and two of the children died from putrid fever. (Great laughter).

Mr. Bird: Will you swear to what you statae.

The Lady: Certainly.

Mr. Wakeling: There are several witnesses who can swear to occurrences of the same kind.

Mr. COMBE then read over the statement of Catherine Murphy who lived by the graveyard - her statement was that she had seen the grave-diggers throw up parts of a human body, and then chop it up with their shovels; saw one of them seize a corpse by the hair, and on that occasion she cried out, and the men threw in the flesh and covered it withclay. She now added that since her last examination she had seen Smith, one of the grave-diggers, carrying the bottom and lid of a coffin towards the bone-house. It was at 6 o'clock on Wednesday morning. She had seen the grave-diggers throw up dark heavy lumps. She could not at first tell what it was, but afterwards knew it to be human flesh. The man in the grave tossed it up on the clay. He would then come up and pick the hair up. She saw very long hair at one time in the clay; had not seen a corpse seized by the head.

Mr. Watt: I have in my possession two coffin-plates of persons buried in 1840.

Mr. Wakeling: The statement mad by Mrs. Murphy I can corroborate by the testimony of Messrs. Dawes and Syms, respectable tradesmen.

Mr. Dawes (greatly excited): Yes; I can speak about it. I lived by the graveyard; the smell was horrible. My children became ill, and three died. I left the place in consequence for two years, during which time my family were in excellent health. I unfortunately came back and two more died. The sickness came from the graveyard.

Other matters were stated of a like nature.

Mr. Vinall said that he should be ready to confute these statements in a court of justice. He believed much of the bad smell arose from a sewer in the neighbourhood. He was willing to have the graves opened free of expense to any one who might wish it, and he felt satisfied that what had been said regarding the burning of human bodies &c was untrue.

Mr. Bird said the woman Murphy had admitted that she had not seen anyone seize a corpse by the hair, but only saw the hair itself.

Mr. Wakeling then annonced it to be his intention to interdict Messrs. Bird, Green and Smith at the next sessions; he had no doubt that the parish would pay the cost, if not he would pay for it out of his own pocket.

The parties then retired.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

No objection to burying persons in fancy dresses

A comic response to George Frederick Carden's attempt to raise money for a large suburban cemetery, which would ultimately be realised in 1832 with the creation of Kensal Green. The piece mocks the idea that burial grounds might be made more pleasant, and compares the scheme with a pleasure garden, replete with hotel and bar.


IT is with great sorrow we find the following notice in all the papers; but we feel it right immediately to submit it, lest the Society to which we belong should incur the imputation of borrowing their plan from another Company.—

"Capital, 300,000l.  Shares, 50l. each.
"The immediate object of this institution is to render less frequent inhumations within this metropolis, computed at 30,000 annually. The first spot is intended to be laid out as nearly similar to the celebrated Cemetery of "Pere la Chaise," near Paris, as situation, &c. will admit; this measure is equally applicable to persons of every persuasion. The very crowded state of most Burial Grounds in London, is self-evident. No fee is payable on the removal of a corpse, but every non-parishioner has to pay either half as much more, or as much again for extra-parochial Burial. This must be submitted to, or the whole parish is taxed upon the purchase of a new ground.
"A detailed Prospectus, shewing how the interests of all parties are intended to be respected, may be had at my Office, where also, and at the Bankers, Messrs. Sir W. Stirling, Bart. Stirling and Hodsoll, 345, Strand, applications for shares may be addressed. By order of the Board,
"35, Abchurch-lane, Lombard-street. JAS. CARDEN. jun."

Our readers having perused this serious appeal to the public, might, as we have before observed, be induced to consider any other Institution of a similar nature an imitation of the Association to which it refers. We beg to state, that. the following prospectus is considerably older, and that the Company which it announces was established on the first of March, whereas it is notorious, that the General Burial Grounds Association was not concluded upon until the first of April. Our readers shall judge for themselves

The immediate object of this Institution is to rob death of its terrors, and, by following the example of our Parisian friends, blend the graceful with the grave, and mingle the picturesque with the pathetic:—in short, the Directors feel confident, that when their scheme is fully developed, the whole system of inhumation will be changed, and the feelings and associations connected with interments, in general, assume so novel a character, that it will be rather pleasant than otherwise to follow our friends and relations to the grave.
    It is proposed to purchase an extensive domain in the neighbourhood of Primrose hill and Caen Wood, where the diversified undulations of ground, and the soothing conmixture of trees and water afford the most flattering promise of success iu the undertaking. No difficulty is anticipated in the purchase of the property, since the will of the late noble owner distinctly points out that it shall remain "grass land" to all eternity, and "since all flesh is grash" no reasonable objection can be raised to its appropriation as a public cemetery.
    The public cemetery, like the DAILY ADVERTISTER,  will be open to all parties—dead or alive—of all religions, or indeed, of none—and it does not need the practical knowledge attainable by a visit to the French metropolis, to convince the world that by laying out the ground in a park-like manner. with umbratreous walks, alcove bowers, and fish-ponds, a link will be created between the past and present generation, and the horrid idea of having deposited a parent, a husband, or a sister, in a cold damp grave, or a gloomy vault, refined into the agreeable recollection that they repose in a picturesque garden or a shady grove, at an easy distance from the most fashionable part of the town.
    The directors intend opening a convenient hotel and tavern on the spot, at which persons visiting the cemetery, either as mourners or in search of quiet retreats for themselves, may procure every sort of refreshment —a table d'hote will be constantly prepared at five shillings a-head, for cold meat and Vin de Grave will be furnished : and on Tuesdays, Thursdays. and Saturdays, during the summer, after burying hours, COLINET's band will be regularly engaged for quadrilles, and the grounds illuminated with variegated lamps.
    A committee of taste will be appointed to regulate the designs of tombs and the directors think it may save trouble to state in the outset, that no allusions to death, nor any representations of skulls. cross-bones, skeletons, or other disagreeable objects, will be permitted. The Royal Society of Literature will he solicited to revise the inscriptions, epitaphs, and elegies, and twelve ladies belonging to the different corps de ballet of the King's Theatre, and the Theatres Royal Covent Garden and Drury Lane, are engaged to enliven the ground as mourners at newly-erected tombs.
    These young ladies may he engaged by the day of hour, at a moderate price. and find their own garlands. MR. SAMUEL. ROGERS is appointed Master of the Ceremonies, and will appear dressed in the uniform of the establishment.
    The Directors have appointed MR. BOTIBOL, Of Soho-square. their artificial florist, who will provide all sorts of flowers for strewing graves, but ladies and gentlemen are requested not to leave the decorations on the tombs at night, but to return them to the directress at the bar of the tavern : and it may be necessary to add that no lady will he allowed to appear at the dances with the same ornaments which have been previously used in the grounds funereally.
    LORD GRAVES has been solicited to accept the offer of President, and SIR ISAAC COFFIN that of Vice President. The College of Surgeons will be constant visitors of the Institution, and under such patronage ultimate success appears to be a dead certainty. Ladies and Gentlemen wishing to be buried in romantic situations, are requested to make early application to MR. EBERS, of Bond street, where the grave-book, with a plan of the cemetery, may be seen.
    Persons subscribing for family mausoleums are entitled to free admission to all the balls of the season. Gloves, hatbands, white-pocket-handkerchiefs, cephalic snuff, and fragrant essence of onions, for producing tears, to be had of the waiters.
    N.B. No objection to burying persons in fancy dresses.

John Bull, 9 May 1825

Thursday, 9 May 2013

After the Execution

Until 1832, and the passing of the Anatomy Act, the bodies of murderers were the perquisite of the Royal College of Surgeons. This is how they dealt with their responsibility, before passing the body on to a medical school for full dissection (or, in one rare case - Earl Ferrers in 1760 - actually returning it to the family).

The executions generally took place at eight o'clock on Mondays, and the 'cut down' as it is called, at nine, although there was no cutting at all, as the rope, with a large knot at the end, was simply passed through a thick and strong ring, with a screw, which firmly held the rope in its place, and when all was over, Calcraft, alias 'Jack Ketch', would make his appearance on the scaffold, and by simply turning the screw, the body would fall down. At once it would be placed in one of those large carts with collapsible sides, only to be seen in the neighbourhood of the Docks, and then preceded by the City Marshal in his cocked hat, and, in fact, all his war paint, with Calcraft and his assistant in the cart, the procession would make its way to 33 Hosier Lane, West Smithfield, in the front drawing room of which were assembled Sir William Blizard, President of the Royal College of Surgeons and members of the Court [of the RCS, ed.] desirous of being present, with Messrs. Clift (senior and junior), Belfour and myself. On extraordinary occasions visitors were admitted by special favour. The bodies would then be stripped, and the clothes removed by Calcraft as his valuable perquisites, which, with the fatal rope, were afterwards exhibitied to the morbidly curious, at so much per head, at some favoured public house. It was the duty of the City Marshal to be present to see the body 'anatomised,' as the Act of Parliament had it. A crucial incision in the chest was enough to satisfy the important City functionary above reffered to, and he would soon beat a hasty retreat, on his gaily-decked charger, to report the due execution of his duty. These experiments concluded, the body would be stitched up, and Pearson, an old museum attendant, would remove it in a light cart to the hospital, to which it was intended to present it for dissection.

James Blake Bailey, The Diary of a Resurrectionist, 1811-12 (Sonnenschein & Co, London) 1896

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Cheap Funerals

The Cheapest House in London for RESPECTABLE Funerals is at Hickman and Sons, No.1. Cannon-street-road, St. George's East, established 30 years. A Grown Person's Funeral, with inch-and-a-half Elm Coffin, covered with fine Cloth, four rows of Nails, ornamented with four pair of Handles and Shields, Inscription, Plate, Glora and Urn, Wood Mattress and Pillow, use of Silk Pall, and Fittings for Twelve Persons, Hearse and Pair of Horses, Two Coaches, and Pair of Horses each, Feathers and Velvets for Hearse and Horses, Attendance with Sik, Sash and Band, Pair of Mutes with Silk Fittigns and Bearers complete, to any of the Cemeteries or Burial Grounds within twelve miles of London
. . . . . . . . £13 0s.

Lead Coffin
. . . . . . . . £3 10s.
Child's "
. . . . . . . . £1 15s.

A Grown Persons's Funeral, with inch Elm Coffin, covered with Black Cloth, two rows of Nails, Handles, with Plate and Name engraved, Angel and Flower, Wool Mattress and Pillow, use of Silk Pall, and Fittings for Six Persons, four Men as Bearers, Hearse and Pair of Horses, Coach and Pair of Horses, Attendance with Silk Bands to any of the Cemeteries or Burial Grounds
. . . . . . . .£6 0s.
This Class Funeral with one Horse to Hearse, and one Horse to Coach
. . . . . . . .£4 4s.

A Grown Person's Funeral with inch elm Coffin, covered with Black Cloth, two rows of Nauls, Plates, Handles, with Wool Mattress and Pillow, use of Silk Pall, and Fittings for Six Persons, Attendance and four Men as Bearers, &c
. . . . . . . .£2 10s

Children's Funerals, under three years of age including Coffin Trimmed, Fittings for Six Persons, use of Silk Pall, Man to carry, Attendance with Silk Bands
. . . . . . . . 16s.

The above low charges within twelve miles of London

The Coffins are supplied within two hours after ordering. Estimates given for Funerals from all parts of the United Kingdom.

Bodies removed from Hospitals and Asylums with a hearse at the charge of 5s.; and from any part of England at One Shilling per Mile.

Lloyd's Weekly Newspaper, 20 September 1846

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Clearing the Ground

Some 1830s parish churchyards and burial grounds were so packed that they were regularly cleared out ... warning, not for those of a squeamish disposition ...

‘I never opened a grave without coming into other coffins of children, grown persons, and what we term odd sizes, which we have been obliged to cut away, to cut through those coffins, the ground being so excessively full that we could not make a grave without doing it; it was done by the orders of Mr. Watkins and Mr. Fitch, the sexton of the parish, that those coffins should be chopped up and the wood placed against the walls and palings of the ground. We have come to bodies quite perfect and we have cut part away with choppers and pickaxes. … The strings, what we term the leaders of the knees and the joints, have been so tough and so strong that we have been obliged to chop them away with a sharp instrument, a hatchet, and the coffin wood we have been obliged to saw in different parts of it, unless we came to a nail, and then we beat it away with a sledge hammer. The skulls and bones there have been holes dug for them, and they have been placed in those holes and beat up just as you would crack nuts, and the marrow bones the same, and buried. … we could not dig a grave without coming upon coffins that have not been buried 12 months, and some not six months. I was sorry that ever I was out of a situation, to be compelled to go to such work, but I did it for the sake of my wife and family.'
Select Committee on Interments, 1842