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:
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...