MYSTERIOUS FEATHER DEATH CROWNS
By: Esther M. Ziock Carroll

 

Picture at right was submitted by:

Old Lawrence [Indiana] Jail

There are several examples of death crowns at the
Lawrence County Museum in Bedford, Indiana.

 


Back in the 1980's I went to visit an older cousin, Ollie Breakfield Laramore, who lived in Courtois, Washington County, Missouri to interview her about our family tree.   During this visit she showed me something that was very unusual.  At least it was to me.  She opened a box that was about 8"x 5"x 3".  Inside were two thick circles of clustered feathers.  She asked me if I knew what it was or had ever seen anything like that before which I hadn't.  Then she told me that when someone dies with their head on a feather pillow the feathers form a circle where the dead person's head was.  Well that just creeped me out!  lol   I had never heard of this phenomenon before.  Since I was mostly interested in the family tree at that time I didn't ask any further about it - or maybe I was afraid to.  lol   Anyway, more than 20 years later in 2004 I was trying to find the old two story farm house that Ollie (now deceased) used to live in & this got me to thinking about those feather circles.  I inquired through the Washington County Missouri GenWeb discussion list & found several other people who knew of the phenomenon.  They referred to them as a "Crown of Feathers". 


From Washington County GenWeb mail list:
Esther's letter certainly brought back a memory.  My grandmother Parmer had a crown of feathers that she said came from the feather pillow that her youngest son died on..   It was actually a thick circle and almost like the feathers were woven together.   I remember that when a person died the pillow was hidden away and not used because a crown would be forming in the pillow.  I only recall seeing that one though and if memory serves me correctly it was about 2 or 2 1/2 inches in diameter.  I do know it was certainly believed in as different famillies seemed to have one in their memory boxes.   I used to love to hear the stories that people told about being "warned" of things to happen.  Some of those old tales were certainly interesting as they bordered on the supernatural.   I certainly hope you locate one........I have no idea what happened to the one that my grandmother had.  I have enjoyed the responses about this that have been on the Washington County list.  My sister (who has a better memory than I do) said she seemed to recall that people believed if a crown was formed in the pillow a person died on - it indicated they had gone to Heaven......She said there was more than one in our keepsake or memory box but I just really remember that one that grandmother had.  It looked almost as if the feathers were swirled togeher & was sorta "slick".  I called a lady that lived nearby that grew up with me & she didn't know what I was talking about ......Oh well, supernatural?????
Edith Fisher - A former Washington County girl


From:  Washington County Amigo Forum:
I saw one as a young child.  It was the crown from the pillow of Bud Cain who had the little store on E Hwy.  My grandmother told me it's the mark that this person went to heaven and received his real crown.  I will always remember that!  It was so beautiful!
Blondie#1- Washington County resident

First time I have been here in a long time & I found some interesting stuff.   A few pages back someone talks of the crown of feathers.  I am Bud Cain's grand daughter & I can tell you the crown was real.  Grandma Price, grandma Cain's (Evelyn) mother lived with grandad & grandma for some time.  Granddad lived in a two story house on E. highway.  Grandma Price passed away, when she passed she was laying on a feather pillow.  Keep in mind that everyone has said my Great grandmother was a wonderful woman, pure in heart & soul a true christian.   Grandma Cain was in a wheel chair for years I personally can never remember her walking.  When we went upstairs to clean the bedrooms Grandma scooted up the stairs then someone would take the weel chair up for her. Grandma had a feather pillow on Grandma Price's bed.  The pillow had a huge lump in it & was aggravating to Grandma Cain.   So we tore the pillow open, sure enough there was a Crown of Feathers , perfectly.   They were bonded together so tight.  It was a sight to see grandma siad this was the pillow Grandma Price died on.  She had us to put the crown in a Double Bubble bubble gum box.  Grandma took it to the Church & showed everyone.  The little white church on E highway, grandma said the crown was the same size of grandma Price's hat size.  Over the years we have no idea what happened to the box with the crown..........Memories.........
Related - Washington County Resident



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Thank you to Elane Napier, Mary Fisher & Gladys Brinkley of Jefferson County, Missouri for allowing me to view & photograph these 60 year old feather crowns. They are from Gladys' children Lela & Dorthy Jean Napier who died of whooping cough in 1939 & 1944 at ages 3 months & nine months.


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From:  Gloria Morgan, Duck River, Tennessee ~ These are from my mothers 2 sisters that died at the ages of 7 and 10. These are over 100 years old.  My grandmother used to tell me that the presence of these in a feather pillow meant that they went to Heaven. The small one is age 7 and the slightly larger one was 10. They have never came loose and still feel firm after a century.


From Cathy Vest:  I remember one of these crown of feathers. My grandmother found one in her feather bed. It was probably late 1940s. It was as you describe--every feather was in a clockwise circle with the feather quills in a very tight center. Center was probably 3/4 in thick and crown about 4 in. diameter. Several years later I asked her about it and she had thrown it away. She told the same story about them being there after someone died. But she had had the feather bed many years and no one had died on it since she had it.  My grandmother passed away in 1997.  She was born in 1895.  The featherbed in which she found the crown had belonged to her mother-in-law (my ggrandmother). She gave it to my grandfather and grandmother when they married in 1912.  I remember my grandmother fluffing up that featherbed every morning when she made the bed.  She fluffed it until it was about 8 inches high and very smooth on top.  One morning as she was fluffing it, she found something hard in it.  She split the middle seam enough to get her hand inside and pulled out the crown. It was very smooth and tight.  She kept it in a Chiffarobe drawer in a large match box.  Several years later when I asked her about it, she had thrown it away.  My grandmother kept very few keepsakes.  She had a slogan she went by that I think came from the depression years.  "Use it up, make it do, or do without."   I lived with her  from 1st through 5th grade and I still miss her.



From: Lela Helzer

I was thrilled to discover your website and see the photos of the Feather Death Crown from the family of Gloria Morgan of Tennessee and Elaine Napier, Mary Fisher & Gladys Brinkley of Missouri.

I have searched for years trying to find some mention of this phenomenon, but no book on the paranormal or esoteric philosophy had anything about them. I was about to think no information existed.

When I was a small child my mother showed me a Feather Death Crown that my aunt kept in a small tin box. I saw it several times in my life after that. She said the object came from the pillow that my great-grandfather died on. She also said it was not unusual in her family and other families that they knew in Texas and Oklahoma. It seems that an aunt had three crowns in her pillow – more than one in a pillow did not seem too rare at the time – this was back in the early 1900’s. They called them Death Crowns because they looked like the hair at the crown of a person’s head. It is my understanding that the soul leaves the body at the top of the head at the time of death – but why there would be more than one is uncertain. Some people believed that more than one were for children of the deceased who had also passed away.

I do not know what became of the little tin box and the crown which was approximately 4 inches in diameter and looked very much like the one from Gloria Morgan.

I have always believed them to be very spiritual in nature (angelic in origin).

I don’t know if anyone else has noticed how much they resemble some of the crop circles – the manner in which the grain is laid down.

My name is Lela Helzer, I am seventy-six years old and was born in Los Angeles, CA; you can contract me at the following Email address. keiserk@email.msn.com




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These were passed to my wife this last week from her Uncle who is in Hospice care.  They are supposed to be from the death pillow of Amos O'Shell who past in 1919.  All told, there were 19.  The others were passed to another relative (unknown) and these seven remain in our care.   Thanks for the site and info,  Mark ~ submitted by Mark McClure February 2006


 

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I am attaching a photo I took today of my grandmother's feather crown found in her pillow after her death. Her name was Frances Victoria Smith. She died in Memphis, Tn in 1960 I think it was. She always hung her pillows on the clothesline and beat them with a broom so I doubt the crown formed from improper fluffing as some say. Submitted By: Kathy Davis - February 2006




I don't have a feather crown, but I did see one once. A neighbor had one. The neighbor's name was Faye McCown Haywood in  Louisa, Kentucky. The crown had come from the pillow of her sister, Olive McCown, who had died has a child. It was made of  brown and white feathers spun around in a very organized way.  She kept it in a corsage box. She is dead, but I know that she had a son, Charles Haywood, who lived in Louisville, Ky.


Beverly Crabtree

Special Assistant to the President

University of Rio Grande


Rio Grande Community College


Rio Grande OH 45674




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Hi,  Just found your page on feather death crowns. I have never met another person that knows what i'm talking about when I mention it.  "They think I'm nuts". Here is a picture of one my father gave me that came out of my great grandfather John Robertson Painter Pillow after his death. He was born 13 March 1858 and died 03 October 1944. My father put it in a glass globe and sealed it  many years ago so it wouldn't be handled and come apart. I do remember he let all us kids feel it  before putting it in the glass globe and it was very firm to the touch.I wouldn't take anything for mine. Gay Cheatham


 

Just looking at your site and reading all the interesting stories about feather crowns.  I grew up in a small appalachian town in eastern KY.   My grandmother who is 96 years old, has many stories she tells about appalachian life.  She would often tell of people who died and right away the beds and pillows would be searched for feather crowns.  My father who is 79 can also remember this.  It seems that it was common in the area where I grew up and a lot  of my ancestors practiced looking for feather crowns upon someone's death. My grandmother does have a feather crown from her father's death pillow.  It was found immediately after he passed.  It is over 100 years old and is in remarkable shape, much like the one I have viewed in your photos. If a crown was found in a person's bed or pillow it was a sign from god that they were going to have a crown of their own in heaven.  My grandmother holds true to this belief to this day. It has always been a prized possession of hers and she does not let many people view it. It is kept in an old Remington shell box somewhere in her house. I think of all the old customs of appalachia this is the one that holds so much interest.  Glad to see there are other people who have seen and heard of feather crowns. Annetta Arnett Hill



My name is Mark Silcox, I have a death crown. My father's sister passed away in 1940, it was found in her pillow. I haven't thought much about it, but I met an elderly man at work that knew my father and asked about it. I mentioned it to my mom and she still had it. My girlfriend was looking into it for me and found your website.This death crown is 4 inches wide by a half inch thick still in tact. I would like to talk to you about this. Please send any info to get in touch with you to this email address. Thank You!   Mark Silcox  or Lori Youngblood



From: bevjenk@bellsouth.net
Hi,  I have never seen anything about htis before finding your webpage. I have crowns from my grandmother and great grandmother. My grandmother died in childbirth and the crown found in her pillow has a little cord with a tiny crown attached to it.  If you'd like pictures I can get some.  Bev



Hi, I am in Charleston, WV. My eldest son, a college student, will be home March 9th to 18th for spring break. He has a digital camera so I will ask him to try to get a couple of good pics. The story behind the crown is that at the time of her death, my great grandmother was living with my grandmother. Mama had nine children, a husband, a brother, and her mother living there. So the very night great grandmother died, my granduncle slept in her bed. He felt something hard in the pillow and cut open the feather pillow with his pocket knife. Lore here was that only the very good, destined for heaven, would receive a crown. Mama said her mother was like that, a very good woman. I will send you photos when I have some. Thanks for the response. KB  



I have my wife's family feathered crown. There are four in her family owned by the sisters. If I can find it I will send you the blurb - I felt it was of such importance that, at the age of 80 years and in a wheelchair, I took it to the Antique Road Show in San Antonio this year. There were two appraisers, one was fascinated by it and the story. The other was a Yankee and when I said that there were others - from middle America - he immediately laughed at it, ridiculed the existence and said that the "would the people of Maine be interested in this?". He  dismissed  me laughing. I have interviews on tape  and pictures with others that have feathered crowns. I did them at a special Genealogy Historical Meeting in Lawrencesburg, TN where I spoke.. Getting up in age but still interested in story. After, doing my research, I went out and bought a pillow of duck feathers to sleep and die on. You might check back later with my wife to see if she found one.    Tom Russell, Dallas, Texas 75208


 

Crown of Feathers
By Lori Fogerty

My grandmother will be known for her legacy of preserving cherished family memories through narratives, letters and scrapbooks.  Undoubtedly, I inherited this passion and that is why I am recording the events of a unique miracle that happened almost 70 years ago.

When Helen Voss was 13 years old, her little sister, Wanda, age 3, became very ill.  Her parents took her to the doctor and he discovered she had diabetes but did not tell her parents.  Knowledge of diabetes in 1938 provided few treatments and little Wanda was sent home to rest.  Her blood sugar was very low and she became more lethargic and disoriented.  My great grandmother, Carolina Rodgers, laid Wanda on the couch with a small feather pillow beneath her head.  Later that night, she passed away.

The tragedy deeply wounded the family, especially Helen who often cared for her younger siblings in a motherly role.  About 6 months after Wandaís death, Carolina decided to replace the ticking or cloth pillowcase that held the down feathers where Wanda laid her head.  When Carolina opened the pillow case, she was shocked to find a beautiful treasure inside.  A small crown of feathers about 4 Ĺ inches in diameter and 3 Ĺ inches tall laid perfectly intact.  The intricate weaving of feathers one on top of the other symmetrically in one direction simply could not happen by chance.  Itís difficult to imagine how a human could create such a piece outside of the wear and tear of pillow use.  It was a miracle from God.

Carolina remembered a story passed down from a previous generation that told a crown of feathers would be formed by angels when a loved one died on a feather pillow and God took him/her to heaven.  I canít imagine the joy and comfort this small crown awarded a grieving mother.  Itís only an example of Godís infinite mercy and love for His hurting children.  Helen and the other children were elated!  They knew God was caring for their little sister.

For many years, the crown of feathers was stored in an old cedar chest until one day my great Aunt Edna Rodgers-McCumber carefully preserved it in a display case.  Amazingly, the feathers have not yellowed or grayed and the intricate crown still maintains its shape.  Experiencing a miracle first hand is a memory that lasts a lifetime.  I want to ensure that it lasts for generations to come.  Some people believe God doesnít do miracles anymore.  But is it only because we believe little that we receive little?  Let this story be a reminder that God is still in the miracle making business. 

Rest assured that Helen beheld a masterful crown of earthly feathers that day.  But more importantly, her heavenly Father is crafting a far more beautiful crown of gold, silver and rubies that she will inherit one day in the company of her little sister.  Thatís a crown I canít wait to see!

 


 

My name is Vera Taylor, I am from Charleston WV. The four crowns in the picture are from some of my ancestors, I inherited an old trunk from my dad,(Edgar Burdette) they were in the trunk, I guess they were pretty old because Dad didn't know whose pillows they came from, he inherited the trunk from his Mother, who passed away in 1947. Dad had always told me that the person that died on the pillow went to Heaven.

 

Hello,  I don't have a picture but I wish I did! I do have a story to tell................My mother kept her mother's feather death crown and her long plaits in a small metal box.  My grandmother died in childbirth in 1912 in Bienville Parish, Louisiana, at the age of 22.  My mother showed them to me many times when I was a little girl back in the 1940's.  She told me it had come from her mother's feather pillow after her death.  My mother was four years old, at the time.  The crown was hard and the small feathers were supernaturally molded tightly into a beautiful small cap.  We moved away in 1955 and it was left behind. My cousin brought her mother's feather death crown to a family reunion in the early 1980's for me to see.  It looked like my grandmother's.  Her mother passed away in 1940 in Shreveport, Louisiana.  Shirley Burks Wells


 

Hello - I found your website about feather crowns after listening to a presentation I found online about Arkansas funeral customs.  Thanks for the photographs - I was curious what these crowns looked like.  In case you might be interested in listening to the presentation, it was called Gone to the Grave: Ozark Funeral Customs, done by the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, and I found it through iTunes by searching under "Shiloh Sessions."  Thanks for your work in gathering and posting the images and stories surrounding feather crowns,   Laurel

http://www.springdaleark.org/shiloh/podcasts/podcast_info.htm


 

Hi, I`m glad I found this site because no one I know has heard or seen one of these. Back around 1966 my grandmother died and when my dad and his sisters and brothers got together to seperate her stuff, all he asked for was the Feather Death Crown that she had. They said ok so when my dad got it he told me that sometimes whenever someone dies and goes to heaven that these might be found in there pillow after they have passed. Well at the time I was about ten years old. After my dad passed my mom gave it to me. I have kept it ever since. The feathers are packed very tightly. I don`t know if that when her spirit left her body it made this or something else. All I know is that this was all my dad wanted after she died and that someone took the time to build a very nice case for it.I wish I had asked my dad more about it now that I think about it. In my humble opinion I believe that something supernatural made this. Peace out......Robert


 
hello. i am glad to see some one else has some feather crowns. my dad had 4 crowns in his pillow when he died. 3 went one way the other was curled the other. i have them in my possession now.....my dad was 56 when he died. he died in 1967 that was 43 years ago.. maybe my brother can send some pictures later,.  Don Hustie
 


 
 

I have 3 feather crowns that were in my grandmotherís pillow when she died in childbirth in 1926. She had twins who also died thus there were 3 crowns in her pillow. They are perfectly formed and it was said that it was a sign that they went to heaven.  Two of the feather crowns are a bit smaller than one. The twins actually lived about 5 weeks and then both died. She died the day of the birth. They could have been laid on the pillow, there isn't really anyone left to ask. My dad and his brothers and sisters have all past away now. The story was that after she died the family was cleaning the bed and felt the lumps in the pillows and opened them to find the crowns. They are so perfectly formed with not quills of the feathers showing that it is amazing.          From: Linda Fultz

 

 

 

To submit your feather death crown picture click here:  Feather Death Crowns

 

Links to other "feather death crown" pages:


The Message Tree

Feather Crowns, Hillbilly Hairballs, Angel Wreaths

 

Page established:  2004       Page is updated whenever people send more information.