My friend David Koon at Arkansas Times shared a story this morning on Facebook that I think is worth repeating.
Benjamin Franklin, who were you?! Not the tubby, innocent cartoon of a man in a field with a green kite and a gold key like I remember from elementary school.
Apparently renovations at Benjamin Franklin's London home revealed a little secret, windowless room full of hacked up people!
In an article titled 'That Time They Found Those Bodies in Ben Franklin's Basement,' we learn the bodies of 10 people, six of them children, were found chopped up with skulls drilled into when a construction worker encountered a small pit in a dirt-floor room that had a human thigh bone sticking out of it.
The bones' age put them there right at the time Franklin was.
So maybe it was his friend who was hacking people up and burrying them in Ben's basement?
Anatomy wasn't a big thing then, and so neither was dissecting human remains.
A buddy of Franklin's, a man named William Hewson, was supposedly doing his own anatomical studies using corpses he resurrected from graves!
From the Mental Floss article:
Researchers think that 36 Craven was an irresistible spot for Hewson to establish his own anatomy lab. The tenant was a trusted friend, the landlady was his mother-in-law, and he was flanked by convenient sources for corpses. Bodies could be smuggled from graveyards and delivered to the wharf at one end of the street, or snatched from the gallows at the other end. When he was done with them, Hewson simply buried whatever was left of the bodies in the basement, rather than sneak them out for disposal elsewhere and risk getting caught and prosecuted for dissection and grave robbing.
Franklin, who was more of a physics guy, might not have been too involved.
I don't know. If my friend was hauling smelly dead bodies into my house I'd probably be hands off as well.
Avoid this situation by not letting your buddy's mother-in-law be your landlady. How much would you have to put up with? I bet she didn't feel she had to fix the leaky faucet, either.
To be at the cusp of their revelations, to be witness to the experiments, the science and odd conversations would have been exhilarating.
We can only speculate, but this London flat sounds like an incredible place to be a fly on the wall in the 1700s.
Flies like dead bodies, after all.