ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Buried Alive

Updated on April 17, 2020

The Most UNREAL Truth That Is No Urban Legend Is That People Have Often Been Buried Alive As A Form of Capital Punishment/Execution. It Is Still A Practice That

Urban Legend Buried Alive

One of Our Worst Fears

Imagine how horrible it would be to get buried while still alive? It's a thought many of us have pondered at least once - and shuddered about, no doubt, too.

Here's a limited preview on Google Books:

Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear

Unfortunately, "Buried Alive" tales are often NOT lies, not untrue, not myth



The use of our most primal fear is often incorporated into story-telling to provide us with excellent 'spook tales.'

Nobody can doubt the almost universal impact of fear which accompanies the thought of being buried alive, so those storytellers intending to 'give a scare' do well to utilize the 'buried alive' motif in their storytelling.

In our day and age, there are hoardes of film productions utilizing this motif, including "Dawn of the Dead" and various Zombie movies where the undead emerge from the ground and begin to stalk the living. No matter how much 'buried alive' material we encounter, rarely do we fail to 'fear' on this topic. It seems a theme which we are almost unable to become desensitized about.

More bizarre, however, than stories, legends, books and films utilizing the idea of 'buried alive' is the fact that in our history of humankind - all over the world, we have actually used premature burial to inflict death, fear, pain and horror on others.

Documented accounts of premature burial as torture exist in abundance - globally - along with all the fiction. Perhaps, for certain situations, the 'buried alive' motif is all the more frightening and abhorrent because humankind is capable of and has actually subjected fellow humans to this overwhelming and atrocious torture. People have actually forced others to encounter their most primal fear, being buried alive - to the ultimate end.


Video of the Buried Alive Urban Legend

Buried Alive - a documentary

Related Version: "The Last Call"

It is said that one of the Ball Brothers - of Ball Corp (originally Ball Brothers Glass Manufacturing Company) had a great fear about the possibility of being buried alive. This fear so plagued him that before his death, he arranged to have a telephone installed at his grave, inside his tomb - just in case. This would give him the chance to call out for help in case an unfortunate live burial event happened to him.

As would happen in the natural process of living and aging, after quite some time, the Ball Brother died - sometime around the late 1930s. Immediately following the event of his funeral ceremony, some of his wife's family members started to worry about the widowed Mrs. Ball because they had trouble reaching her by phone when they tried to call her to extend further support in her time of bereavement. Each time a family member would call, taking turns several times per day over a couple of days, every member of the family received a busy signal from the Ball's resident phone line.

Finally, very worried about the widow Ball, some family members decided to go see her directly, see how she was doing after the sad even of her husband's passing and funeral. They wished to inform her that something was amiss with her telephone service and get that problem tended to, as well.

When the few supportive family members arrived, Mrs. Ball did not respond to the doorbell or to knocks on the door, so after a few minutes, the family members decided to remain persistent in their attempts to contact their beloved, grieving family member. They forced the door somehow and gained entry to the Ball residence.

...what they found indoors was shocking...

They found Mrs. Ball dead in the living room - a look of extreme fright frozen onto her dead features. Mrs. Ball was still clutching the telephone receiver she'd been holding at the time she died.

When the suffering family members went to deliver Mrs. Ball to the grave and conduct the customary funeral rites, what they found on the funeral plot was further shocking. Mr. Ball had, of course, been diligent and responsible from a financial standpoint concerning his own death and the preparations necessary for his lifelong mate, as well, so the Ball plot contained room for both husband and wife upon their respective deaths. What Mrs. Ball's loved ones found when they interred her into her final resting place was...

The phone inside the crypt where Mr. Ball had already been interred - was off the hook...

Video: Enigma - The Unknown (Buried Alive)

Pompeii: Buried Alive (Full Documentary, 45+ min)

Taphophobia Now and Then

From the Greek "taphos" meaning grave, Taphophobia is also the same thing as the similarly spelled, Tephephobia. This phobia is the "fear of being buried alive."

While we probably have little to fear today in the way of being buried alive - as in actually put into a grave by accident while yet living - people have probably only been able to worry less about this problem for about the past 150 years or so.

According to Christine Quigley, among others, a man named T.M. Montgomery was overseeing the disinterment of remains at a cemetery known as Fort Randall Cemetery around the year 1896. In his report, afterward, he stated that slightly more than 2% of the bodies exhumed at that location were victims of premature burial.

I found this information in a couple of online articles which seem to be referring back to Christine Quigley's book, The Corpse: a history. If you do a search for this author and book title online via Google Books, most of the book is available in preview mode. You can read most of the book online.

Earlier people, it seems, did have some reason to worry about premature burial...


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Thanks for commenting, Moral Man.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Hello anonymous commenter. Wow, you certainly promoted your opinion here on horrible ways to die, including being buried alive!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      To be buried alive is probably the most horrific fate that can befall a person or animal. There are many cruel, dangerous horrible scourges that can cause suffering and death from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, malaria, ebola, aneurysm, toothache, and venomous pests such as stonefish and centipedes which cause unimaginable pain, fire, intense heat, intense cold, starvation, dehydration, intense itching, drowning, poisoning from carbon monoxide, being bitten by sharks and crocodiles, being shot by guns and bow and arrows, being electrocuted, being stabbed by knives and swords, car accidents, etc. The list of cruelties is a long one. Being buried alive inside a coffin, crypt, or vault is the most horrific. Claustrophobia and suffocation. There are no words to describe the torture of being buried alive. Any enclosed space where its difficult or impossible to breathe can turn into a torture chamber and death trap for any human or animal victims. A cupboard drawer or the case of a musical instrument or a luggage can act as a coffin for a small animal. Small cellars, small attics, inside refrigerators, inside chimneys, crawlspaces, bombshelters, inside walls, inside a hole under the ground, tunnels, mines, small caves, closets,etc can become torture chambers and death traps. I suffer from claustrophobia. Its my worst fear and I have a lot of fears. An unknown number of people and animals have been victims of premature burial whether accidental or intentional. Some have broken out of coffins only to find themselves trapped inside a vault. Even if a victim managed to break loose from a coffin, there is still the problem of beijg in a vault or crypt or mausoleum which is almost as bad as being inside a coffin. My house has a cellar which one cant even stand up. I would go raging and raving mad if I were stuck in such an environment. To be buried alive is a fate worse than death. Many if not most coffins are buried six feet under dirt so a victim of premature burial has the daunting task of trying to break free of the coffin and makijg his way up through tons of soil and dirt. The kinds of coffins that are used nowadays are so strong(made of marble and bronze) that even a bodybuilder couldn't break out of it. I think its stupid to make coffins this strong and its stupid to bury them so deep under the ground and its stupid to place them in vaults, crypts, and mausoleums. The coffins should be made easy to get out of. The reasons for making coffins so tough and unreachable are 1)to protect the body from insects, worms, scavengers, 2) to protect the body from water and 3) to protect the body from thieves who dig up caskets to steal jewelry or other items buried with the deceased and from bodysnatchers who dig up graves for unsavory purposes. Well, if a person is still alive inside the coffin, then all this security could be harmful and counterproductive. If it were up to me, I would not have myself buried nor cremated. Cremation is also horrible and reminds me of the gas chambers in concentration camps. Being incinerated to ashes in cremation is also horrible. Whether its burial or cremation the dead person is screwed either way. Either way its a win for the Devil. Im disgusted that in capital punishment premature burial is being conducted. This is sick, monstrous inhuman cruelty beyond imagining. Horror novels and horror movies about premature burial are the writing of Edgar Allan Poe, Buried Alive by author Jan Bondeson, and the lousy horror movie from the 70's called Kiss of the Tarantula where a girl who lives in a funeral home/mortuary kills her sleazy uncle by putting him inside an airtight coffin and lets him suffocate to death. In the sick movie The Serpent and the Rainbow(about voodoo and zombies in Haiti) a character is thrown alive inside a coffin. What's even more horrific than being buried alive? Its being buried alive forever. Some believe that in hell for the next life one of the methods of torture will be being buried alive. David J. Stewart of Jesus Saves Ministry claims that those in hell will suffer the feeling of being buried alive in addition to being tortured by fire. This is monstrously sick, diabolic, malevolent, fiendish, sadistic cruelty. Authors Mary Baxter and Bill Wiese have written about hell. Bill Wiese says there is a feeling of suffocation in hell in addition to being tortured by fire and being tortured by repulsive demons and monsters and a sewer like stench. Its sick. Where is the God of love and mercy in this? Theres not a trace of Him. So how's that? To be forever tortured by being buried alive and being burned by fire and being mutilated by demons and monsters and being subjected to a sewer smell. Eternal claustrophobia, suffocation, fire, excrement, mutilation, worms, demons and Satan. I cannot imagine a God being more evil and more cruel than this. Unimaginable cruelty and horror. The most monstrously cruel forms of torture. This is worse than what the Nazis did and worse than what Hitler did. This is worse than the crimes of Bundy and Gacy. Cruel beyond belief. Im going to end up in a mental hospital from fear. What kind of God allows the horror of premature burial? Where was God when all those people and all those animals were buried alive? Why didn't God save them? This is criminal cruelty, criminal negligence, criminal insanity. Maybe God is powerless and unable to help and unable to heal. Being buried alive is a fear that fills me day and night. I live in fear. The world is a nightmare and a horror movie ruled by the Devil and evil.

    • SammySammo profile image


      9 years ago from Boston, MA

      You should see the movie Buried with Ryan Reynolds. I told my boyfriend I want to be buried with a cell-phone or with some really loud alarm I can set off if I wake up 6 feet under.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      aslanlight, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope you'll return to let me know what the documentary you saw was called. I would like to see it and learn what sorts of things the witch doctors were saying, what beliefs surround the practice you've mentioned.

    • aslanlight profile image


      10 years ago from England

      It's a horrible but fascinating subject isn't it! I watched a documentary in which people in Africa were turned into zombies by being given certain herbs by a witch doctor and then were buried alive, left for some time and dug up later. A young man it had happened to was filmed and he did indeed seem to be a zombie!

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      Redsox97fan - thx for the further explanation on why it was actually common for people to be buried alive in the not so distant past. Many other sicknesses, not just the great plagues would likely have caused some to be buried alive, too. A lot of illnesses cause slowed breathing, comatose states, etc.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      The great plague which started in britain was said to be one of the events causing premature burial and yes, the stories about the many scratch marks in the inside lid of the coffins are true, and were actually quite common in the 1600's-1800's.The plague slowed down breathing and the heart quite a lot, and made movement very rare thus making the illusion of death...

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      12 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Apparently it wasn't unusual to find scratch marks on the inside of the lids of coffins when they were dug up at later dates. Theories seem to include catalepsy victims being buried alive, (a condition that causes the person to appear dead to all intents and purposes, only for them to 're-awaken' after a period of time, sadly sometimes after they had been buried, presumed dead!) and vampyre legends. Great hub, glad I found this one as I missed it originally, or maybe I wasn't a fan in those days.

    • mythbuster profile imageAUTHOR


      12 years ago from Utopia, Oz, You Decide

      I agree - it would be awful to be buried alive, badangel13. I hope that all people are actually dead before burial from now on. Perhaps a lot of people like the idea of cremation for the exact same reasons as you do.

    • profile image


      12 years ago

      It must be absolutely horrifying to be buried alive. i am claustrophobic and i just can't stand to be in a confined place. I think I would go crazy if I was buried and woke up to find myself inside a coffin. Yikes! This is why I would rather be cremated when I die and I want a professional to make sure I'm dead, before I am buried or cremated.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)