In the summer of 1969 farmhands were digging on Egypt Plantation in Cruger, Mississippi when the backhoe operator felt a crunch. Just three feet beneath the topsoil, he had hit a very, very old coffin—made of cast-iron and glass. The body inside was visible.
It was a young woman wearing a red velvet dress, white gloves, and square-toed boots from sometime in the previous century. The body wasn’t decomposed, as one might expect for a corpse in such antiquated garb. The coffin had been filled with preservative alcohol and sealed, and the woman inside looked almost as she did the day she died. The glass had shattered when the backhoe hit it, and the alcohol seeped into the ground around it, exposing the body to the elements after a century of rest.
Local historians have attempted to source the woman’s identity without any luck. Clues from her clothing and the coffin she was found in indicate she died before the Civil War. She was reburied in Lexington’s Odd Fellows Cemetery with a marker dating her estimated birthdate as 1835 and her death date as 1969, the year she was discovered.
No one is sure about who the Lady in Red was or why she was buried in a shallow, unmarked grave. Some speculate that the coffin might have fallen off a wagon and never reached its final burial site. Others predict that she was a passenger on a paddleboat who died while traveling the nearby Yazoo River. Her identity may never be discovered, but if anything, that’s only fueled the intrigue surrounding the Lady in Red.