From Ohio History Central
For much of recorded history, some people have lived in fear of being prematurely buried. They feared waking up in a coffin that had already been interred. During the nineteenth century, numerous inventors tried to devise a means for prematurely buried people to signal those people aboveground. One of these inventors was John G. Krichbaum of Youngstown, Ohio. On December 5, 1882, Krichbaum received a patent for a device that would allow the interred person to signal that he or she was still alive. The device consisted of a handle that undertakers were to attach to the supposedly deceased person's hand. The handle was connected to a pointer that was aboveground. The pointer was encased in a glass box. The pointer would show if any movement occurred inside the coffin, suggesting that the interred person was actually alive. The device also allowed for air to enter into the coffin, keeping the interred person alive until help could arrive. Kirchbaum claimed that his device would best be used for "persons buried under doubt of being in a trance."