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Paul Jones Paris Exhumation Photos

Paris Underground /
May 1905

A century ago the mummified body presumed to be naval hero John Paul Jones was discovered in France where he died in 1792. Thie began an eight year journey in which Jones returned to his current resting place in Maryland. These exclusive early images show the scene of the "big big" in Paris.



SEE ALL OUR ARTICLES on death and burial of John Paul Jones

Extraordinary photos of the May 1905 dig

Detail 1905It 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.

Details 1905These 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.

 Under the Streets of Paris
Searching for Jones in 1905

(Click picture for larger images.)

Exhumation Thumbnails

Continue to see six photos
Used by permission of Mason's Grand Lodge, Boston, MA

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