One of the most intriguing objects in Woodlawn Cemetery is the stone coffin, or the mysterious sarcophagus, which sits above ground near the center of the cemetery. According to an article by Frank Weller, published in 1950 in the Southern Illinoisian, a headstone next to the sarcophagus reads, “JW Landrum, Died July 4, 187.., Aged 47 years.” However, there seems to be a couple of different versions of who is actually buried there.
The first story is that a young woman from Vicksburg, Mississippi, the wife of JW Landrum, was buried in the above ground coffin. She was placed there because she did not want to be buried in Yankee soil. Her husband was a Carbondale native and was said to have sprinkled soil from Vicksburg inside her coffin before the lid was closed.
The second story is that Lt. Colonel John Mills of the Union Army was supposedly buried there. His family found out that a Confederate soldier was to be buried at Woodlawn, and they had his body removed so that the two soldiers would not occupy the same land.
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