|Photo by Julie H. (May 2015) (http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60824-d183750-r159921531-Grave_of_Stonewall_Jackson_s_Arm-Fredericksburg_Virginia.html#photos)|
I am not aware of any special discussion of this problem within Christian theology, which also makes space for bodily resurrection but emphasizes the immaterial nature of the immortal soul. Nevertheless, the practice of burying amputated limbs evidently thrived in Christian Britain. For instance, Sarah Tarlow in her book, Ritual, Belief and the Dead in Early Modern Britain and Ireland, mentions the 1756 burial in Wales of the "left leg and part of the thigh" of Henry Hughes Cooper, fully commemorated by a stone marker (apparently Cooper later emigrated to America where he died and was buried without his amputated leg and thigh). Tarlow also found several nineteenth-century cases in which amputees had had coffins prepared specifically for their lost limbs, the first step toward formal burial. This practice, Tarlow asserts, indicates that Britons thought that amputated limbs retained "some part of the individual self."
|Photo by Julie Preston, 1993 (http://www.jlb2011.co.uk/walespic/archive/990502.htm)|
What was evidently the first leg to be buried at Hazelwood belonged to Mary Ewoldt, who died at age 79 in Grinnell in late May, 1952. Her parents, Frank Kelm and Julia Poleska Kelm, had both been born in Germany, so it was perhaps no surprise that Mary's choice for husband was also German-born, Herman Ewoldt. The couple married in 1895 in Trinity Lutheran Church, Malcom (the record is preserved in German), but Mary later was a member of long standing at St. John's Lutheran, Grinnell. She and her husband spent more than 50 years together farming in
|Grinnell Herald-Register March 19, 1945|
|Gravestone for Della and Elmer White, Hazelwood Cemetery|
More than fifty years later, we have scant hope of learning why Mary Ewoldt and Elmer White had their legs buried at Hazelwood years before they themselves were interred there. Perhaps they acted out of religious conviction, hoping that, when bodily resurrection came, as they evidently believed it would, they would be recreated as they had been before amputation. Or perhaps, like Bob Brownlow in Leicester, they thought that their legs were, after all, theirs, and no one else had more claim to the severed appendages than they.