Grieving Mom Had Staircase Built Down To 10-Year-Old Daughter's Casket To Comfort Her During Thunderstorms

Photo: NatalieMaynor / Flickr / CC by 2.0
Florence Irene Ford Grave

In the Natchez City Cemetery in Mississippi, the grave of Ellen Ford's daughter lays with an unusual difference from other graves.

Though it is now a popular tourist attraction in the area, it was once a sited only visited by those closest to the Fords.

When burying her beloved daughter, Ellen requested that her daughter’s coffin could be fitted with a small window as well as stairs built leading down to the casket, which was an unfamiliar request at the time.

The grave of her 10-year-old daughter Florence Irene Ford E is buried next to a staircase which her mother used to visit her.

Ellen had the staircase built in 1871 to go down and comfort her daughter in her casket during storms.

Even in her grief, the doting mother could think only of her daughters needs.

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Though it looks like any other grave from the front, there is a mysterious long rectangular door behind it that hides the secret stairway.

Florence Ford was born September 3, 1861, and was the daughter of Washington Ford, a wealthy cotton planter. Florence was known to be terrified of storms, so when one occurred, she would always run to her mother for comfort until it passed. 

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Florence died of yellow fever and her mother Ellen was struck with grief that she didn't want to just bury her child to never see her again.

Therefore, there's a window at the front of the coffin behind Florence's head. In order to protect Ellen during storms, there are hinged metal trap doors to open and close during the bad weather.

Ellen would read and sing to her daughter constantly in the 6-foot underground staircase and speak to her daughter through her coffin window to comfort her.

The grave is often visited by members of public to this day.

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The grave has barely changed since the late 1800s and its epitaph still reads on the gravestone, "As bright and affectionate a Daughter as ever God with His Image blest.” 

The only thing that's changed since the 1950s was an addition of a concrete wall at the bottom of the stairway that was meant to cover the glass window because the cemetery wanted to prevent any potential acts of vandalism.

Florence's grave is visited often in the Natchez City Cemetery and it's one of the most popular as people stop by and drop off dolls, glowsticks, and toys for Florence. Her mother Ellen and father Washington are also buried in the same plot in unmarked graves. 

According to the Natchez City Cemetary, people can visit daily from 7 a.m. to dusk.

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Megan Hatch is a writer at YourTango who covers news & entertainment, love & relationships, and internet culture. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.