Note: This story is from my book Highway History And Back Road Mystery II.
At the City Cemetery in Mishawaka, Indiana we learned the story of William Aldrich, a decidedly colorful character of his time. Born around 1840, Aldrich was an eccentric and self-proclaimed atheist, along with being a gambler, horse trader, and some claim, a horse thief. Be that as it may, Aldrich always lived very well and supported his mother in style in the home they shared on Main Street in Mishawaka. He would disappear for weeks, even months at a time, then show up back in town with a string of fine horses and one or more fancy carriages.
While rumors abounded that these were stolen property, or the ill-gotten gains from some card game, that never stopped the local folks from stepping up to purchase the fine steeds Aldrich offered.
Aldrich loved to play the dandy, dressing in a frock coat, gaily colored vest, bow tie, and sporting a large diamond stickpin. He carried a walking stick, and though nobody ever saw him use one, everybody knew he also toted a couple of guns under the folds of his coat.
When Aldrich fell ill with tuberculosis, a virulent disease of the time, he weakened fast and in his last days could only sleep sitting up. He commissioned a local undertaker to build him a large coffin designed so that he could sit up for all eternity. Once the coffin was finished and delivered, Aldrich spent many hours sitting in it, apparently trying out the fit while he could still order any needed adjustments.
When Aldrich succumbed to his illness, his coffin was too big to fit in any hearse, so a platoon of pallbearers carried it to the cemetery, where he was laid to rest in a specially constructed oversize vault measuring five by seven feet that he had decorated with photographs of Indians, frontiersmen, and some of his favorite horses.
Perhaps Aldrich planned to challenge the Devil himself to a game of chance to determine who would be in charge of Hell – the vault also contained a card table with a deck of cards, Aldrich’s pipe and tobacco, and a bottle of whiskey. Aldrich also ordered he be buried with his favorite fancy saddle, and a shotgun, just in case the Devil cheated.
Today is your last chance to enter our latest Free Drawing. This week’s prize is an autographed copy of The Ghost At His Back, the first book in my friend Cameron Lowe’s Rankin Flats supernatural thriller series. Cam is a great guy, witty, intelligent, and creative. To enter, click on this Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening.
Thought For The Day – Sometimes I shock myself with the smart stuff I say and do. Other times I try to get out of the car with my seat belt on.