A Kentucky Mummy
Not all mummies are Egyptian.
That’s an accepted statement as ‘mummies’ are not specific to Egypt. Mummies can be found practically anywhere given the right conditions and enough time.
What’s unique about one particular mummy is the story and the myth that surrounds it. Presently I’m working on the next book in the Jamie Poole Books series: The Courtship of Brett Poole. This will be a side-story, taking place a few years after Battle of the Beanfield. Once again Tristan, “the Monster of Time” plays a key role. As the story implies, it is the courtship between Brett Poole and Julia Anderson, Jamie’s parents. In the first book, The Isle of Osiris, Julia speaks briefly to Jamie about dating her dad. This story explores the untold moments. (Spoilers: There’s quite a few.)
That includes an Egyptian mummy.
That’s right. Kentucky. Honest.
Let’s back up and look at the facts.
Mammoth Cave, one of the largest cave systems in America, is located in Cave City, Kentucky. Mammoth Cave was discovered over 200 years ago. In the early years men explored the cave to understand its dimensions. It played a role in the War of 1812 when its saltpeter reserves became significant due to the British blockade of US ports. The blockade starved the American military of saltpeter and therefore gunpowder. As a result, the domestic price of saltpeter rose and production based on nitrates extracted from caves such as Mammoth Cave became more lucrative.
Tourists were allowed into the cave in the mid-1800s. The first tour guides were African American slaves. Future guides were often sons or relatives of the original guides. These men knew more about the cave than anyone. On July 1, 1941, Senator Barkley announced the creation of Mammoth Cave National Park. Most people today who live in the Midwestern United States and elsewhere have certainly vacationed here.
Few know about the mummies. One was on display when I visited Mammoth Cave as a very young child. I don’t believe it’s still on display. Some people had concerns about it being too morbid. At least that’s what my parents said when I noticed it was missing on another visit. That particular mummy was the remains of an indigenous man who had presumably become lost and died. In the right conditions, like the bowels of a cave, a body will become mummified.
Another mummy was never on display in modern times. This mummy, found in 1811, was well preserved, had red hair, and was embalmed in a similar way to the ancient Egyptians.
The mummy became known as Fawn Hoof. Some would believe that the mummy was indeed an Egyptian who had traveled to North America. It is claimed the mummy was found in a crypt. It was purchased by Nahum Ward in 1816 along with other mummies, some of which were reportedly 2500 years old. This collection became part of a traveling exhibition of rarities. You could say this was something like Doyle Dalton’s Cabinet of Curiosities. His cabinet is based on these traveling exhibits.
In 1876 the mummy was transferred to the Smithsonian Institute for further examination. Here it was dissected and studied. Unfortunately by this time, it had deteriorated. The mummy had not been cared for properly. Later it was lost all together.
So the question remains: Was this an Egyptian traveler who came to the Americas and perhaps shared with the indigenous peoples Egyptian knowledge? Is this proof of travel well before the age of Columbus? Or the Vikings? While conspiracy theorists have many ideas on this, the science can’t back any of it. It’s a shame. What could the body tell us if we had it to study today?
It cannot be disputed that a mummy was found in Kentucky. One of many. This fact alone made it worthy of inclusion in my story. A mummy found not far from Jamie’s hometown? After all, Jamie Poole helped her dad locate a ‘mummy’ in Scotland. Art imitates life because life can imitate art. And who knows? We can’t prove or disprove the facts around Fawn Hoof. And that’s unfortunate. Sadly, with no body, there is no solid evidence. All we can do is wonder.