Claim: A deceased cattle rancher had an ATM installed in his tombstone to dole out weekly stipends to his heirs.
Example: [Collected on the Internet, 2002]
LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (Wireless Flash) — A deceased cattle rancher in Bozeman, Montana, took care of his heirs by installing an automatic teller machine in his tombstone.
Cattle rancher Grover Chestnut died earlier this year at the age of 79. However, before he cashed in, he installed an ATM at his tombstone and gave ten heirs debit cards, and told them were allowed to withdraw $300 per week from the grave.
Chestnut apparently figured the tombstone ATM was the best way to make sure his grave had regular visitors.
It seems to be working. Joel Jenkins, who helped create the “cashing-out” machines, says one of Chestnut’s granddaughters recently gave up a promising acting career in New York in order to cash in on Grandpa’s money-making tombstone.
Although Chestnut’s grave is currently the only one with an ATM, Jenkins thinks others will be dying to try it soon.
Origins: With one slight change (“dying
to try it soon” became “trying it soon”), the article quoted above appeared on SFgate.com, the online presence of The San Francisco Chronicle, on
be a mistake
According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, its search of obituaries from the past decade turned up no record of a Grover Chestnut’s having died there, nor was it able to locate any relatives of
SF Gate picked up the tale from Wireless Flash News, a media outlet that represents itself as “The pop culture wire for media professionals.” It’s hard to assign much credibility to a source that flogs such articles as “Waltons Creator Admits Old Set Now Haunted by ‘Grandpa'”
David Moye of Wireless Flash said he got his story from a Long Island, New York, man named Joel Jenkins, who claimed to own an ATM company. Jenkins refused to disclose the location of the grave, citing “security reasons.”
Once SF Gate caught on to its having been had, it posted the following correction on its site in place of the “ATM Tombstone” article it had previously displayed:
Editor’s note: This story has been removed by SF Gate because of questions concerning its accuracy raised by the Bozeman (Mont.) Daily Chronicle. No death notice could be found with the name of the rancher who supposedly set up an automated teller machine at his gravesite so his family would visit.
One futher clue to the nature of the “tombstone ATM” story is its resemblance to an ancient joke:
A Jewish woman in the Bronx recently caused quite a commotion by revealing the contents of her will. First, she stipulated that she be cremated. Then, she asked to have her ashes spread over Bloomingdale’s so she’d be assured of having her daughter visit her once a week.
Barbara “gravely mistaken” Mikkelson
Last updated: 8 July 2007
A Word to Our Loyal Readers
Support Snopes and make a difference for readers everywhere.
- David Mikkelson
- Doreen Marchionni
- David Emery
- Bond Huberman
- Jordan Liles
- Alex Kasprak
- Dan Evon
- Dan MacGuill
- Bethania Palma
- Liz Donaldson
- Vinny Green
- Ryan Miller
- Chris Reilly
- Chad Ort
- Elyssa Young
Most Snopes assignments begin when readers ask us, “Is this true?” Those tips launch our fact-checkers on sprints across a vast range of political, scientific, legal, historical, and visual information. We investigate as thoroughly and quickly as possible and relay what we learn. Then another question arrives, and the race starts again.
We do this work every day at no cost to you, but it is far from free to produce, and we cannot afford to slow down. To ensure Snopes endures — and grows to serve more readers — we need a different kind of tip: We need your financial support.
Support Snopes so we continue to pursue the facts — for you and anyone searching for answers.