June 13, 2024
Montpelier, US 71 F

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A Vermont Man’s Odd, Dual Purpose Coffin


A Frugal, Vermont Man Creates a Dual Purpose Coffin for use in Life and Death

Lysander Barnes was a huge man. He towered six-foot plus in his stocking feet. “Lys” was somewhat of a carpenter. During the 1850's, he was the “Mr. Fix It” of the north end of Stamford, VT.

It's not unheard of for people to build their own coffins, sometimes as an artistic or symbolic gesture or to have more control over the process. This practice has a long history in some cultures.

It suddenly dawned upon Lys one day that at some time he must depart this life, and realizing that he was of generous stature and knowing the inadequacy of the coffin vendors of the nearby city of North Adams, Mass., he set to work to “fix' himself a sturdy box of native pine.

A Frugal Vermonter

His handiwork completed, as the story goes, Lys climbed in to see that the fit was right. He then stored the coffin until the day of need. Now, Lys was a resourceful Vermont Yankee who could not abide seeing things go to waste. The fact that all that smooth, lovely pine storage space was sitting around with no purpose annoyed Lys. So Lysander decided to utilize the space as a receptacle for beans.

A sawmill and lumberyard was located at the north end of town. Lys sold the beans to the lumbermen and their families, quart by quart. The folks in town laughed, but consumed eighty-four cubic feet of beans apparently without any concern about where the beans had been stored.

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