Graverobbing in Chattanooga
Chattanooga Times, november 1894


Chattanooga Times thursday, 22 november 1894, p5

Dr. Townes Says the Medical College Must Have Subjects.

There is now no doubt that the grave robbing reported to the sheriff a few days ago and for which two negroes are now under arrest, was not confined to the potter's field. The matter is not yet in a shape to present to the public, but some important arrests are expected in a few days, and then the whole story will be made public through the medium of the press.

Dr. Townes, one of the leading members of the medical college facility, was approached yesterday on the subject and said that he knows nothing about it. He said:

"About five years ago this same subject was agitated, but nothing came of it. In the interests of science bodies must be secured for dissection by the medical students, and where they are obtained is another matter entirely. The medical college here has plenty of subjects on which to work, and I am informed that they are shipped here from Louisville. As to the grave robberies reported here, I know absolutely nothing. It seems to me that laws should be passed whereby the bodies of unknown or paupers, who would otherwise be buried at the expense of the county, should be distributed among the medical students for the interests of science. It is an utter absurdity to expect to educate a physician without subjects for anatomical work. If you cut an artery you cannot reasonably expect a physician to know how to pick it up unless he has had the benefit of some work on human subjects.

"The scare five years ago, was much the same as the present one, except that the newspaper men found out a little more than they have so far in the present case. One of the reporters of the city climbed to the top of the building during the scare and saw the work of dissecting going on in the dissecting room. He then wrote it up at great length and made a great thing of it - but it was really nothing more than if I should discover you with your clothes off and have you arrested for exposing your person. Of course, you are in your own room, but if I see you, even by sneak work, you have in the sense of the law exposed your person.

"I can say that the medical college here has plenty of material on which to work, but I do not believe that the college buys any stolen bodies. I took a baby to the college only a few days ago. Where did I get it? Well, I got it."

The cases against the negroes who were arrested on the charge of robbing the grave at the potter's field will be tried before 'Squire Hill' Friday.