Sunday May 22nd 2022

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Posts Tagged ‘Potters Field’

Potter”'s Field Tales no less rich and fascinating! Generosity doesn”'t tell it all!

Potter”'s Field Tales no less rich and  fascinating! Generosity doesn”'t tell it all!

By Sue Hunter Weir There are 350 people buried in the cemetery”'s Potters Field whose remains were used as research subjects in anatomy courses at the University of Minnesota during the years 1914-1916.  They were, to the say the least, a colorful lot:  homeless men, prison inmates, men who were both the instigators and victims of crime.  If they had one characteristic that they share was their social isolation; when they died, their bodies went unclaimed by friends or family. Other traits that many, though not all of them, shared, were alcoholism, mental illness and the effects of poverty. In the early part of the last century, state law required the county coroner to turn over the remains of anyone whose body went unclaimed to medical schools.  Because so many people believed that their bodies and souls were to be reunited on Judgment Day, the idea of dissection was, for the majority of people, unthinkable. As a result, there was a shortage of cadavers which made the laws governing unclaimed bodies necessary.  (That practice ended in the 1960s). Of those 350 people buried in the cemetery, 100 were infants who were stillborn or died shortly after birth in one of the two major charity hospitals in the area.  Of the remaining 250, eight were adult women; the rest were men.  The lives of the men are surprisingly well documented.  In many cases, their deaths occurred in public places:  in rail yards, on the street, at construction sites, or in jail.  Eleven of the men have reams of paperwork, relics from the time they spent as inmates Stillwater Prison. Another nineteen of the men are identified only as “unknown man,” who, although their names weren”'t known, died under circumstances that were considered newsworthy. The death certificate for one of those men lists his occupation as “yegman,” meaning he was a safe cracker.  Police believed that he was one of several men who robbed the [...]

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