First American Cremation

Updated July 24, 2020 | Infoplease Staff

The Question:

Who was the first person to be cremated in the U.S.?

The Answer:

While cremation goes back to ancient times, the cremation of Baron Joseph Henry Louis Charles De Palm in 1876 was billed as being the first in modern America, according to Purified by Fire: A History of Cremation in America, by Stephen Prothero. Whether or not it really was the first (this is not entirely certain), it was significant in bringing the cremation movement into the spotlight.

For further reading, see our encyclopedia article on funeral customs.

-The Editors

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