Another neglected American horror legend from Balladeer’s Blog to help celebrate Halloween Month.


Corpse SmithConnecticut is known for its lost cemeteries and graveyards. The Stamford area was supposedly the central territory for the macabre figure called the Corpse-Smith of Connecticut. Also known as the Cadaver Master and the Carrion Engineer this ghoulish character was once a mortal man.

Around the late 1770s the Corpse-Smith was a new arrival from Europe but his exact nationality is no longer known. The man was a brilliant scientist and had made extensive studies of the funerary arts of many High Civilizations from the past including Egypt and Sumer.

The Corpse-Smith combined those arts with his own scientific brilliance and had made incredible advances in the preservation and study of corpses. Like so many geniuses this man was far ahead of his time.

It wouldn’t be until the U.S. Civil War that Americans began to extensively preserve corpses since the war dead needed to be kept presentable for their long journeys back to their home states. In the 1770s and 1780s there just wasn’t much of a demand for the Corpse-Smith’s particular breakthroughs. 

With the world seeming to scorn his genius the odd figure went underground – literally, by all accounts. The Corpse-Smith set up operations underneath one of the Stamford area’s ancient graveyards. Some legends maintain that the madman’s plundering of the countless cadavers for his own research accounts for the virtual disappearance of so many cemeteries in the area.

Like George Washington Carver with peanuts the Corpse-Smith conducted extensive experiments with every internal and external element of dead bodies. Unfortunately human superstition regarding “proper” treatment of the dead made him more and more of an outcast with each discovery. 

*** He refined decomposing body-fats in such a way that they would burn even more effectively than whale oil.

*** He perfected a means of melting down and reconsolidating human fingernails and toenails to form a malleable industrial product that anticipated bakelite plastic by nearly two centuries. 

*** He could preserve and break down dead human flesh into such fine threads that several suits of clothing could be made from each corpse.

*** He modified dead muscle tissue into ropes and cords far stronger than hemp ropes. 

*** He crafted shoes, boots and gloves from other dead tissues.

But even general disgust over those discoveries was mild compared to the fear and scorn the ghoulish genius drew upon himself when he sought a scientific treatment to use old corpses as a ready food supply in the event of crop failures. 

The Corpse-Smith was lucky to escape mob justice when he tried to peddle those concepts to the public and retreated for good to his ever-expanding network of tunnels underneath Stamford area graveyards.

Long after any truly mortal man would be dead, sightings of the madman were reported well into the Civil War era and beyond. Any unusual sounds or other phenomena in or around Connecticut cemeteries were attributed to the Corpse-Smith continuing his macabre work. 

It was whispered that his methods for preserving corpses had grown so advanced that he was able to prolong his own life indefinitely by feasting upon cadavers treated with his unholy chemicals. Other tales claimed the madman had invented formaldehyde long before its use by the general public and had even distilled it as an alcoholic beverage that kept old age at bay.

Embellishment after embellishment followed over time, attributing ever more twisted advancements to the Corpse-Smith in his subterranean kingdom of death. He had supposedly refashioned bones and dead skin into mechanical devices which did the tunneling and plundering of newly-buried corpses for him.   

Gravediggers told Tall Tales about meeting the insane genius while plying their trade. There were elaborate stories of the Corpse-Smith sitting down to meals of dead flesh sculpted to resemble chicken, beef and other delectables right down to each dish’s peculiar aromas. His boney mechanical creations would serve the ghoulish feasts to him on plates crafted from human skulls. 

Human eyes would be munched like grapes and moisture drained from human lungs would provide drinking water. Human hair was processed and flavored to provide excellent cigars.

Not even the wonders of the radio age could encourage the Corpse-Smith to abandon his subterranean Necropolis. He had supposedly been using human voiceboxes and dissected nerves to provide his own songs and music years earlier.

By the time World War Two rolled around the ghoulish figure seemed to have vanished into the realm of forgotten folkore. Or maybe the conspiratorial secrets of the Cold War era saw the Corpse-Smith and his inventions at last finding receptive audiences in the form of the Soviet and U.S. governments.


© Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Edward Wozniak and Balladeer’s Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Filed under Halloween Season


  1. Really gross story in a lotta ways.

  2. Libby

    Awesome article dude! I didn’t know Connecticut had stories about missing graveyards before now.

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