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Episode Info: Welcome to Interesting If True, the podcast that wants your lucky charms—and is willing to ply you with whiskey until you give them up! Jenn wanted to call this one “Two Guys One Whiskey” but I didn’t want to remake the artwork…. 0_o I’m your host, Aaron, and this week I learned Jenn is a dirty, pant-burning, liar face: I’m Shea, and this week I learned that I’m not lazy, I’m just an off-season hibernation innovator. The Year was 1828—a leap-year starting on Tuesday for Gregory and Sunday for Julian (the Gregorian calendar was 12 days ahead of the Julian calendar at this point), saw the Turkmenchay peace treaty (between Russia and Persia), the feral child Kaspar Hauser was found in Nuremberg, and Andrew Jackson was elected the 7th President of the United States. Meanwhile, in Edinburgh there was an explosion of anatomy! Well… an explosion in the study of anatomy. Famous smarties like John Bell, Alexander Monro, and Robert Knox all studied human bits there. First, if you’re not familiar with Robert Knox, don’t worry, we’ll get there. Second, there is now a market for human bits in Edinburgh. Before we go to the worst farmer’s market ever, a bit about Scottish law. It was illegal to make a body of course, and grave or funeral home robbing was generally frowned upon. So what was an enterprising “resurrection man” to do? Resurrection men, by the way, where the purveyors of fresh corpses that totally, for sure, honest, never robbed graves. Turns out it was legal to steal a body, just not from someone or a hole in the ground. So if you could find yourself a ward of the state, orphan, etc, and get their body from the… body… cart, probably, it was yours because you can’t steal what isn’t technically owned. Two of such Resurrection Men were William Burke and William Hare who sold corpses they… “farmed” I guess, to Robert Knox for dissection and lecture. In the summer a body fetched 8 pounds. In the winter 10 as nature’s refrigeration meant you could fiddle about inside someone longer and with more frequency. From a practical standpoint, this also meant that protecting graves was good business. Guard towers and fences of course but you could also commission a stone slab to be placed over the grave until the ground was frozen or the body was… too ripe to pick. Iron cages built over graves were another popular option. These had the dual feature of preventing robbing as well as eliminating any “pet cemetery” concerns the family might have. Speaking of family, Hare and Burke had wives and family. Burke had an abandoned and a current wife. While Hare married a woman described as a “hard-featured and debauched virago”. A virago, by the way, is an old term for a belligerent, ill-mannered, scolding, self-righteous, shrew. Or, a yee-oldie “Karen”. Dedicated drinkers and assholes all, they soon found themselves in need of coin. Hare’s renter died of dropsy owing him $4. So, like ya do, they waited ar...
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