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UNSOLVED: “Lady In Red” Coffin is a Mississippi Mystery

Have you heard the mystery of the Lady In Red Coffin? 

No, we’re not talking about that 80s song, Lady In Red. We’re talking about a body found, laid to rest, with no known family connections.

This is a bonafide unsolved mystery!

Let’s dig in to find out more.

About the Lady in Red Coffin

The puzzle surrounding the Lady in Red Coffin dates back to 1969. It was a typical spring day in the small community of Egypt, Mississippi. The Thomas family called in some workers to fix a septic tank. They discovered the coffin when a workman’s backhoe hit something hard underneath the soil.

Not only was it a shock to find a coffin and a body on private property, but the coffin itself was unique. It was a Fisk Iron casket fitted to the human body it contained. A window just above the face of the deceased revealed a young, well-dressed woman. 

Even more bizarre was that she was also submerged in alcohol. We discovered that wealthy families from the mid-1800s would use the Fisk Coffin and alcohol to preserve loved ones who died far from home. In addition, people would often use alcohol when the deceased was afflicted with an unknown disease.

The young Jane Doe was named The Lady In Red due to her red brocade dress. She wore silk boots with buckles, a long cape, and someone had crossed her white-gloved hands over her chest. A delicate blanket covered her long dark hair. 

These details helped establish that the Lady in Red was most likely from a wealthy family, alive around the 1830s to 1840s. You’ll find reports stating both that she was born in 1835 and that she died around then.

The fact is, no one really knows.

Some speculate that The Lady in Red died from yellow fever. Others say she was a local who requested burial near her garden in an unmarked grave. Many wonder if she grew ill on a boat on the Yazoo River and died suddenly. But why would she be buried anonymously on a nearby plantation? The truth remains unknown.

Where is the Lady in Red Coffin?

The Lady in Red is at The Lexington Odd Fellows Cemetery, about thirty miles southeast from where the workers initially found her. Lexington is a small city in Mississippi, north of Jackson. It was home to famous blues musicians like B.B. King, Lee Cooper, and Lonnie Pitchford. 

The population of Lexington has gone down over the past decades, and jobs are hard to come by. History buffs may enjoy reading about the town’s history of ups and downs.

The Lexington Odd Fellows Cemetary is a popular destination for ghost hunters and fans of all things creepy. You can read all about the Lady in Red on your visit. The gravestone reads “Found On Egypt Plantation 1835 -1969”. 

The end date is a marker of when they found her, which is confusing. Clearly, The Lady in Red was not 135 years old! Details like this make some wonder if the Lady in Red and her coffin are indeed fact or fiction.

Is the Lady in Red Coffin Considered Folklore?

The debate about the Lady in Red, and her coffin, exists with good reason. Reddit user “acarter8” brings asks why there are no photos of the casket.

It’s reasonable to assume the press would be all over this in 1969, cameras in hand. Today, Medical examiners or forensic scientists could certainly examine and perform DNA testing.

Then again, someone would need to be willing to pay for it. Plus, back in 1969, in rural Mississippi, it’s plausible to think cameras weren’t as common as in bigger cities.

Speculation also circulates about how much of the tale has changed or exaggerated over time. Sudden death seems arguably unlikely, given the elaborate clothing she wore. The fisk coffin is so specific to the person encased in it. Or perhaps someone was transporting her body by ship along the Yazoo River. The vessel could have sunk, the coffin never to be found.

Best Things to Do Near the Lady in Red Coffin

Lexington, Mississippi, is a tiny city with not much to do. But there’s an extensive history in the surrounding area, both good and not so good. We recommend staying overnight in Jackson, which is about an hour south. 

Delta Blues Legend Tour

Local resident Sylvester Hoover is your guide and driver for a three-hour excursion back in time. You’ll learn about blues legends like Robert Johnson and Eddie “Guitar Slim” Jones, why they call it the ‘Delta Blues,’ and what makes it unique. 

The tour starts in Greenwood, 20 minutes north of the Lady in Red Coffin. The B.B. King Museum is also nearby.

Address: 214 Young St., Greenwood, MS 38930

Eudora Welty House and Garden

Eudora Welty was a Pulitzer Prize-winning author born in 1909. She came from a family that honored books and reading above almost everything else. Welty wrote short stories and novels. Some of her best known include The Optimist Daughter, The Ponder Heart, and The Golden Apples. 

Welty’s home is a National Historic Landmark listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Her home is one of the most intact literary houses in America. The house contains paintings, photographs, and thousands of books. The Mississippi Department of Archives and History added an audio tour in 2021.

The museum is open Tuesday thru Friday, with limited hours on Saturdays. Your first stop is the Education and Visitors Center, next door to the Welty House. There, you can see an orientation film, view exhibits, and visit the museum shop. 

Leaving the Visitors Center, you enter the house and garden via a guided tour by Welty docents. We recommend making reservations.

Address: 1109 Pinehurst St, Jackson, MS 39202

Mississippi Museum of Natural Science

This popular museum is home to 200 living species in their massive aquarium. You’ll find fossils, informative exhibits about nature, and plenty of outdoor activities. This is a great attraction if you’re traveling with children. We suggest checking their website for your visit to see what’s on display and what interactive activities are available.

The Mississippi Museum of Natural Science in Jackson is the largest museum in the state. It also functions as a center for state research and education. Pretty cool if you ask us!

Address: 2148 Riverside Dr, Jackson, MS 39202

Walker’s Drive-In

You’ll certainly get hungry no matter what you choose to do when visiting the Lexington area!
So, we had to include Walker’s Drive-In on our list of things to do. Walker’s Drive-In restaurant is one of the oldest businesses in Jackson’s famous Fondren District. Current owner and chef Derek Emerson has made it a classy, old-time regional favorite.

Established in the late 1940s, Walker’s was where working folks would go for quick, cheap diner fare. The restaurant isn’t really a drive-in, and the menu has become a bit more upscale in recent years. Photos on the wall display the restaurant’s years of charm. 

Menu items range from a redfish sandwich with sweet potato fries to oysters with warm brie and apple slaw. Don’t worry. You can still get a burger and a milkshake any time of day.

Address: 3016 N State St, Jackson, MS 39216

Best Camping Near the Lady in Red Coffin

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park

Once upon a time, the city of Jackson was known as LeFleur’s Bluff. Louis LeFleur was a French-Canadian explorer who set stakes down in the 1700s with a local trading post.

LeFleur’s Bluff State Park is a unique camping spot smack dab in the center of town. It’s less than ten minutes from the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science. The 305-acre park features a nine-hole golf course.

LeFleur’s Bluff Campgrounds have 28 campsites with water and electric hookups. Further amenities include a dump station, showers, flush toilets, picnic areas, and fire pits. Tent-only dry camping is also available. Cell service is decent, and nightly stays range from $16 to $25.

Address: 3315 Lakeland Terrace Jackson, MS 39216 

Timberlake Campground

Another park next to the city, the Timberlake Campground is surrounded by the Ross Barnett Reservoir. It has 280 campsites. Amenities include full RV hookups, showers, laundry, a swimming pool, and tennis courts. 

This is an excellent spot for water sports like jet skiing, sailing, and dock fishing. There’s even a tv room for the reluctant camper in the family.

This pet-friendly campground ranges from $35-45 per night. Although, they do apply discounts for 30-day or extended stays.

Address: 143 Timberlake Dr. Brandon, MS 39047 

Is a Road Trip to the Lady in Red Coffin Worth It? 

Truthfully, it depends. The mystery of the Lady in Red Coffin is fascinating. The graveyard is lovely – as far as cemeteries go. But you’ll only get to see the gravestone. You can read the story on-site, but the coffin is long gone. Or did it ever really exist? 

However, if you’re traveling in the south or have never been to Mississippi, why not give it a whirl? If you’re a blues fan, the area has a long history to explore. Lexington is directly between the great cities of Memphis and New Orleans. Who knows what other unique places you’ll find along the way?

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  1. […] UNSOLVED: “Lady In Red” Coffin is a Mississippi Mystery […]