Grave of Timothy Clark Smith – New Haven, Vermont - Atlas Obscura

Grave of Timothy Clark Smith

New Haven, Vermont

A tomb with a window to ensure the interred wasn't buried alive. 


Evergreen Cemetery, just off of Town Hill Road in New Haven, VT, is generally unremarkable as far as cemeteries go, except for one fascinating interment. His name was Timothy Clark Smith, and he was a 19th century doctor who suffered from taphephobia, the fear of being buried alive.

This personal fact is made apparent by his unusual grave design. He designed and rigged his own tomb in an attempt to prevent his nightmare of an undesirable outcome. He installed a set of stairs underneath a large square capstone beside his burial mound, and is said to have been buried with a bell in his hand and a breathing tube.

Most noticeably, however, is the horizontal window he installed at the surface of his grave, six feet above him and centered squarely on his face so that people could check on him to ensure that a mistake wasn’t made. He died in 1893, and to all accounts it went smoothly.

Today, the window’s visibility only extends a few inches down the six-foot-long cement shaft due to moisture and the age of the glass.

Adapted with Permission from: The New England Grimpendium by J.W. Ocker

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