September 27, 1865
Wellesley, Ontario, Canada
Henrietta Bean, first wife of Samuel Bean, dies

What makes the Bean wives memorable is the puzzle grave Dr. Bean had created for them. For a century, the grave tucked away in a rural cemetery was shrouded in mystery. The original headstone attracted so many visitors who took rubbings of it in an effort to solve the puzzle that it became illegible and had to be replaced. Finally, in the 1970s, a 94-year-old woman solved the riddle.

(Stop reading here if you want to try to solve it for yourself.)


Beginning with the seventh column in the seventh row, making a counter-clockwise spiraling and zig-zagging pattern, the grave reads:

“In memoriam Henrietta, 1st wife of S. Bean, M.D. who died 27th Sep. 1865, aged 23 years, 2 months and 17 days and Susanna his 2nd wife who died 27th April, 1867, aged 26 years, 10 months and 15 days, 2 better wives 1 man never had, they were gifts from God but are now in Heaven. May God help me, S.B., to meet them there.”

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