So this is an interesting story: A museum up in Buffalo, New York, found remains of 24 former soldiers 10 years ago in a closet. The museum, which used to be a church and then a funeral home, is not sure how the remains ended up in their possession, but fought to ensure the soldiers would receive full military funerals. The kicker? The director also claims the museum is haunted.
Most ghost stories don’t have happy endings, but that was the case Friday as the cremated remains of seven World War I, World War II and Korean War-era veterans were buried with full military honors at Bath National Cemetery.
The ashes were among 24 sets of remains discovered in a basement closet 10 years ago when the Iron Island Museum opened up at a new address, a former church and funeral home.
It’s still a mystery how the remains — labeled only with names and dates of death — ended up in the closet.
The Buffalo museum features a mix of railroad, military and other items saved by local preservationists. And it’s haunted, according to Linda Hastreiter, president of the museum.
“Strange things were happening all the time,” Hastreiter said, including volunteers seeing “shadowy” people, hearing voices, and the sound of chairs being banged around. “People were seeing things that weren’t really there.”
So a psychic was brought in to investigate the paranormal activities last year. The psychic claimed to detect the presence of a man named Edgar.
Hastreiter checked the names of the ashes, and sure enough, there was an Edward L. Zernicke.
The museum president dug deeper into Zernicke’s life, and found he served in the Marines from 1925 to 1929, fought in the Sandino Rebellion in Nicaragua in 1928 and later spent four years in the Navy before returning to Buffalo.
As a coordinator for the Patriot Guard Riders Veterans Recovery Program, Hastreiter helps find unclaimed veterans’ remains and ensure they receive their final honors.
The Zernicke discovery inspired her to look into the other remains. Once she found out who was a veteran, she then began a quest to find living relatives and secure permission for military burials.
“I’m just glad they didn’t hang up on me,” Hastreiter said.
On Friday, seven sets of the remains were back at the museum, each in a white box on a case beneath an American flag and a display of vintage military uniforms.
Members of an Army honor guard and the Patriot Guard saluted the veterans before carrying each urn from the museum and placing it into a hearse headed to Bath National Cemetery some 90 miles away.