Mystery solved! Girl from 1800s found in casket in backyard of San Francisco home identified

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A child found in a backyard in San Francisco last year from the 1800s has finally been identified. (Photos by Erica Hernandez)

After nearly a year of detective work, researchers have identified the young girl in a casket that was discovered in the backyard of a San Francisco home in May 2016.

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A contractor doing remodeling work uncovered the casket while excavating part of the back yard. The casket was made of metal with two viewing windows in the lid. It was tightly sealed, thus preserving the body of the girl, according to officials.

Researchers identified her as Edith Howard Cook, the daughter of Horatio Nelson and Edith Scooffy Cook. She died on October 13, 1876, at 2 years old.

Peter Cook, who was identified as a direct descendant of the Cook and Scooffy families, provided a DNA sample. The analysis was the final step in solving the mystery of the young girl, who was nicknamed "Miranda Eve."

PHOTOS: 2-year-old from 1800s found in casket behind San Francisco home


She was buried in the family plot in the Yerba Buena section of Odd Fellows Cemetery, which later became the site of residences in San Francisco's Lone Mountain neighborhood. The cemetery accepted burials until about 1902. All of the remains were exhumed and transferred to Greenlawn Cemetery in Colma but for unknown causes, the body of Edith was left behind.

Funeral home records indicate the cause of death was "marasmus," a term used in the 1800s for severe undernourishment, which could have had a number of underlying causes. Researchers say given what is known today about 1800s urban living, an infectious disease is the most likely cause of her marasmus.

Click here for the full release with more information on the young girl in the casket.

Related Topics:
body foundinvestigationDNAhistorySan Francisco
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