Mystery of the Woodlawn Sarcophagus

By Bruce Cline, director of the Little Egypt Ghost Society

Photo by Bruce Cline

Located on the east side of a hill at Woodlawn Cemetery in Carbondale, Illinois, there is a stone sarcophagus raised a few feet above the ground. Any inscriptions on the stone have long since been obliterated by the ravages of time. There are at least three stories about the sarcophagus. The best known and most believable one to me is that it contains the remains of a Confederate woman from Vicksburg, MS, who moved to Carbondale with her husband shortly after the Civil War. She hated the Union so much that she made her husband promise never to bury her in Union soil.

When she died, the promise was kept by raising the sarcophagus a few feet above the ground. Another story states that this was done simply because the ground was too hard to dig the grave to bury the woman. The last version involves Lieutenant Colonel John Mills, a Union soldier who died just after the Civil War. The Colonel’s family sealed him in the sarcophagus. Upon learning that a Confederate soldier was to be buried in the cemetery, the family removed the Colonel’s body, leaving the sarcophagus empty. Personally, I do not believe this version because the sarcophagus is very short and doubt is it could accommodate a full size man.

Bruce Cline is the Director of the Little Egypt Ghost Society based in Carbondale, IL. He is a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army as a Corps of Engineers Officer. He is a former municipal, county and state law enforcement officer. Bruce lives in Carbondale, IL with his wife, Lisa and several cats and dogs.



  1. My mother grew up in Carbondale in the 1940’s. She was told the woman was afraid to be buried alive so they put her in a tomb and her family visited daily for months to see if they could hear her wanting out. Maybe it is empty!


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