Event at Bellefontaine Cemetery: “Missouri’s Mad Doctor McDowell: Confederates, Cadavers and Macabre Medicine”
This Sunday, November 1st, Bellefontaine Cemetery will host a book talk and signing of “Missouri’s Mad Doctor McDowell: Confederates, Cadavers and Macabre Medicine” written by Victoria Cosner and Lorelei Shannon. The book is based on stories about Dr. Joseph Nash McDowell who opened the first medical school in St. Louis. When the Civil War broke out, McDowell left to fight on the side on the rebels. His medical college was taken over by the Union and became the Gratiot Street prison. In his basement, they found a large amount of human bones. These bones probably came from dissections from robbed bodies. Body snatching was a common practice of the time. Despite the restriction, this practice continued, especially among medicine students. McDowell was constantly paranoid at a rival school, he believed that his mother’s ghost had saved him, and he entombed his daughter’s body in alcohol at the Mark Twain Cave in order to conserve the body. Despite these spooky stories, McDowell was a well-respected doctor in his community. If you would like to know more about the life of McDowell and his macabre medicine, the free event will be held in the Hotchkiss Chapel from 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm.