It took French Ambassador Horace Porter years to locate John Paul Jones under the streets of Paris. The search began in 1898. Porter, an American naval hero from the Spanish American War, studied documents and maps in search of the lost body. Evidence finally pointed to the Louis Cemetery, but more than a century of urban sprawl meant churchyards had been overrun by progress. The graves now rested under public buildings. Porter got permission to explore the underground tombs and workmen dug five shafts in the midst of the city streets. Diggers searching for lead coffins found five, three with name plates and one too large for the diminutive hero John Paul Jones. Porter opened the selected coffin and the Ecole de Medicine determined that the body was indeed Jones.
These images are part of the collection at the Masonic Lodge in Boston, MA. We've added them, with their permission, to our existing online gallery because they clearly show the construction sites and -- more importantly -- fascinating details of Parisian bystanders. Before the pomp and hype surrounding the return of Jones body to America, we see a quieter time. The photos, taken in 1905 and inscribed by the Paris photographer are crisp and detailed. They show the scene of the digging, an old wooden cart surrounded by chickens, street workers, a ceremonial funeral ceremony attended by well-dressed visitors and an image of Ambassador Porter below ground. Jones body was then ceremoniously shipped to the USA where it rests today at the chapel in Annapolis. --- JDR
Source: John Paul Jones, America's Sailor by Clara Ann Simmons, Annapolis, 1997.
Read also: Scientific American Report from 1905
Under the Streets of Paris
All images courtesy of the Mason's Grand Lodge, Boston. MA
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