A Fisk Patent Metallic Burial Case from Western Missouri: An Interdisciplinary and Comprehensive Effort to Reconstruct the History of an Early Settler of Lexington, Missouri

Document Type


Publication Date



In 2006 a cast-iron coffin was discovered in an unmarked burial plot in Lexington, Missouri. A multifaceted investigation was conducted to provide historical documentation and possible identification of the individual. The coffin is an early Fisk Patent Metallic Burial Case. Osteological analyses indicate that the skeletal remains belong to a 20 to 30 year old white female who consistently ate an omnivorous diet with significant amounts of C4 plants or seafood. Rib morphology and her burial garments suggest she frequently wore restrictive clothing. No gross skeletal pathological lesions or trauma were observed except for a patch of reactive bone and an atypical pattern of bone remodeling on the visceral surface of the sixth rib. Subsequent bacterial DNA analysis of the ribs and sternum indicate the presence of tuberculosis infection. Although not conclusive, multiple lines of evidence are consistent with the skeletal remains representing Elizabeth (Triplett) Stewart who died in 1854 of pulmonary tuberculosis. This multidisciplinary research significantly contributes to the local history of Lexington, Missouri and provides a likely identification of the deceased individual for the Stewart Family.


Please refer to article for a complete author list.