The body of a 2-year-old girl who died more than 140 years ago was discovered by construction workers during a home renovation in the Richmond District of San Francisco, California.
Remarkably, the girl’s body had been incredibly well preserved in a glass and metal coffin. Even the flowers placed between her hands were dry but intact. “All the hair was still there. The nails were there. There were flowers – roses, still on the child’s body,” construction worker Kevin Boylan told KTVU. “It was a sight to see.”
Ericka Karner, the homeowner, was told by the medical examiner’s office that the little girl was her responsibility after the city of San Francisco refused to accept custody of her remains. The coffin was devoid of any identifiable markings and there was no way to know who was inside. Karner began calling the little girl Miranda, a name chosen by one of her daughters. She attempted to have Miranda re-buried, but was told by city officials that she would need a death certificate and burial permit. Without knowing her real name or even when she was buried, Karner was stuck.
Karner partnered with the nonprofit group Garden of Innocence in an attempt to identify Miranda and contact the descendants of her closest relatives. The girl’s coffin was opened by researchers and her body immediately began to deteriorate. Her remains were placed into cold storage to prevent further decay as Garden of Innocence began the process to give Miranda a proper burial. Eventually the nonprofit group was able to obtain the necessary paperwork to lay the little girl to rest again under a granite tombstone bearing her nickname “Miranda Eve.” After a year of research, the Garden of Innocence has finally discovered the her true identity.
Edith Howard Cook died of “severe undernourishment” at the age of 2 in 1876. She was one of 30,000 people who were buried in Odd Fellows Cemetery that was shut down in 1890. The bodies were relocated in the mid 1920s, but Cook’s body was left behind. The Garden of Innocence found a match for Cook’s body in funeral home burial records last fall. They also discovered a potential relative, 82-year-old Peter Cook of Napa California. A DNA test confirmed that Peter is Edith’s grand-nephew. Peter’s grandfather was Milton H. Cook, Edith’s older brother who was born in 1871.
“I was jumping for joy because it gave me more opportunity to find out about my family,” Peter told KPIX 5 News. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Cook family was quite prominent in the late 19th Century and were frequently featured in San Francisco society stories. Edith’s father Horatio Nelson Cook founded a tannery and leather-manufacturing company that’s still operating today under another name.
A new tombstone currently being made to replace the granite “Miranda” marker. It will display Cook’s true name as well as the dates of her birth and death. After being forgotten for nearly 100 years, Edith Cook’s memory has finally been preserved.
Like and share this story if you think this was an incredible discovery. Please leave a comment on Facebook and let us know what you thought about this amazing story.