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The specters of the secret society Skull and Bones

Yale senior William Russell founded Yale's most famous secret society in 1832, Skulls and Bones, at 64 High Street, dedicated to Eulogia, the goddess of eloquence. The "bone men" as they are called took the skull and crossbones as their symbol from which they received their nickname.


Construction of the windowless Greco-Egyptian style "tomb" began in 1856 and ended with the addition of its two rear towers in 1911. Legend has it that the plans were read upside down so that the courtyard was built opposite facing the street instead of inside the structure. Former President George W. Bush (Yale 1968), his father former President George Bush (Yale 1948) and his grandfather Prescott (1917) are among the many famous people who have belonged.

Geronimo, the Apache chief, is said to have haunted the premises because the club was also rumored to have a skull claimed to be Geronimo's. Legend has it that bony men stole the remains of the chief from his burial site in Fort Sill, Oklahoma, when a group of them were stationed there during World War I. One of the club's initiation rituals would require new members to kiss the skull. Other ghosts are said to haunt the premises, but we may never know who they are because the Bones have sworn to secrecy.

There's an even more astonishing story: Alexandra Robbins alleges in her article for Atlantic Monthly that Skull and Bones, a Yale University secret society, that ElihuYale's gravestone was stolen years ago in her emplacement in Wrexham, Wales. The generous merchant whose philanthropy had founded the college that bore his name had died in the British Isles while doing business. She further alleges that the tombstone is now on display in a display case in a room with purple walls, which belongs to a building owned by the company and called the tomb.

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