Nunnsense: Need some bones?

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Nick Nunn

Nick Nunn

By Nick Nunn


Hard times have befallen the Council Bluffs, Iowa chapter of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows (IOOF). Apparently, IOOF – pronounced “ih-OOF” – decided that Council Bluffs isn’t odd enough to keep their chapter open any longer and revoked the branch’s charter.

In an attempt to boost Council Bluffs’ odd-factor, Dave Burgstrum attempted to sell an antique oak coffin, which had been used during the chapter’s initiation rituals to represent death, on a website for $12,000.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the coffin comes with an added bonus: the bones of the coffin’s original occupant.

The package deal was originally donated to the chapter by a doctor in the 1880s, but, in an effort to further the organization’s philosophy of anonymous giving, the doctor failed to send along any information documenting the identity of the coffin-dweller.

Apparently, if you can’t name the flesh coat that used to wrap your remains, you can’t peddle the bones for soup, stock, or whatever use they might serve.

That bureaucratic slip-up made over a century ago has placed Burgstrum in the awkward legal position of having to provide papers on the old bones before he can sell them.

Currently, Iowa scientists are testing for the race and sex of the previous user of the bones but have little hope of actually providing an identity.

At this point, Burgstrum has decided that the bones are more trouble than they are worth, informing the medical examiners that they can “throw them in the trash” as far as he is concerned, according to Council Bluff’s newspaper, The Daily Nonpareil; selling the coffin is his only concern.

However, it appears that, legally, if the remains belonged to a Native American they must be returned to the Native American organization.

For those of us who have bones representing the other ethnic groups of the world: no one cares.

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