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
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.
Under the Streets of Paris
Searching for Jones in 1905
(Click picture for larger images.)
Continue to see six photos
Used by permission of Mason's Grand Lodge, Boston, MA