Experiences that do not easily fit into other categories

Written by Susan Demeter-St.Clair

We were recently asked by an author for any information we had on a Prince Edward Island legend involving a traveling coffin. We believe the author was referring to the story Charles Coughlan.

Charles Coughlan was a PEI born actor who was in Galveston, Texas with an acting troupe in 1899 when he collapsed and passed away suddenly. Although he was put in a lead-lined casket and placed in the local community cemetery in Galveston, a hurricane on September 8th 1900 washed the sandy soil of Galveston's ossuary and freed Coughlan's casket out to sea where it stayed until October 1908 when it was retrieved, floating in the waters just off PEI by a fishing troller.

Or at least that is how the story goes....

It is quite possible that the above is based on this similar tale:

The Rev. J. Beck who when he passed away at sea on his way home to England had made prior arrangements that stated should he die that his body be taken back to where he came from, St. Helena. Instead, the casket somehow got dropped into the Atlantic where it floated with no assistance for 1,200 miles to the shores of... St. Helena.

There are other stories as well that have a similar theme, and outcome. How much truth is involved in these stories are left to reader's opinion.