Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Body Snatching Judge...!

Now this is another tale that is in keeping with the closeness of Halloween. I know you love it!

The bad thing is that these stories can be researched as they are true! That should rattle your cage just a bit, ya know?

Grandison Harris

Grandison Harris was a slave who belonged to the Medical College of Georgia. Bought in 1852, he was officially the school’s porter and janitor. Unofficially, he was their body snatcher. Like others who shared his grisly profession, he was also known as a “resurrection man,” and his slave status afforded him something of an odd benefit when it came to this second job. As a slave, he couldn’t be prosecuted by the law. Harris spent more than 50 years unearthing freshly buried bodies and supplying the students of the medical college with corpses to dissect and learn from. His forward-thinking employers gave him all the tools that he needed to be a successful body snatcher—they even taught him how to read and write, so he could keep an eye on newspaper obituaries himself.

Harris had uncanny flower arrangement skills, which came in handy when he needed to reassemble funeral flowers after removing a body. But many times, that wasn’t even an issue. One of his favorite stomping grounds was Cedar Grove Cemetery, where the most impoverished people were buried in coffins that were easily shattered by an axe. After the Civil War, Harris found himself a free—and learned—man. He took a position as a judge in a small Georgia town, but the students he had formerly supplied with dead bodies weren’t about to let him forget where he came from, no matter how powerful he was by day.

Harris continued his grave-robbing activities and brokered deals to supply the college with slightly more legitimate bodies, purchased from prisons and hospitals. He also spent his later years teaching the finer points of grave robbing to his son, who ultimately replaced him at the college. In 1908, Harris gave a lecture at the college, teaching others just how he managed to be such a successful resurrection man. He died in 1911 and was buried in the same Cedar Grove Cemetery where he’d spent so many lamplit nights. Perhaps as a precautionary measure, there’s no grave marker, only a monument. No one knows exactly where his body was actually buried.

Seems to me that the "judge" did the smart thing in not having a headstone on his grave. I would imagine that a little graveyard justice might have befallen him otherwise!

Coffee in the kitchen again this morning. I don't trust the weather guys!


linda m said...

I find it interesting that he became a judge. Most unusual for a former slave. I agree about not having a headstone - didn't want relatives of the dead people or former criminals, digging up his body. Raining here again today. I'll bring some fresh baked bread and some butter.

Mamahen said...

Interesting .....I agree with linda m it seems odd he would become a judge, and agree no marker was the smart move....storms moving in here today but hey its suppose to hit 80° if we don't get blown away....Fresh bread mmmm i'll bring homemade apple butter to go along :))

Chickenmom said...

That is one creepy tale - perfect for Halloween! Just hope no one met an early ending just to get a body. Warm here at 61. Will enjoy your coffee and Linda's fresh bread!

JO said...

Yes a good Halloween story but sad that it's true.

54 here this morning but nice and clear for going camping. But I will have coffee with you all in the kitchen first.

edifice rex said...

That's really wild. I'm surprised he continued to do it even after being freed and becoming a judge!

Rob said...

The school bought a janitor.