1901 and we complete our story, which is from 1852 and flowed from the pen of Czech-American penman and newspaperman, Hugo Chotek!
It is a most intriguing story, which can illustrate for us, the lives and times in the communities in which our Czech immigrant ancestors lived!
This is an amazing one — and you might be surprised at what caused all this ruckus!
Amerikán Národní Kalendář
Volume: XXIV, Year 1901, Pages 184-187
“An interesting chapter from the history of Cleveland.”
Selected from old jottings for the “Amerikán” Calendar by Hugo Chotek.
Translated by Katka Tomkova
©Onward To Our Past®
“The Mayor trembled like a leaf and the responsibility they had on their shoulders made the aldermen’ hair stand on end. Then, in the last moment, the sheriff plucked up the courage, climbed a large box lying in front of one of the stores, and started to speak to the people. He spoke about illegitimate actions and the consequences they may bring to a person. He screamed from the top of his lungs, trying to be louder than the ravaging of the crowd and make the “wise and prudent citizens” go home in peace, and he partly succeeded. Many people retreated, they stopped shouting or went away, but still a large number stayed, cursing doctors and waiting for the tragi-comedy to end.
The Mayor and the council members moved away, too, convinced their further presence was unnecessary because they could not act against the people’s “will”.
In the course of the afternoon, the concourse became quieter. The doctors and medical students, who were staying in their college, braced up and descended from the fourth floor of “Mechanic’s Block” into the street. They walked hurriedly through the assembly of people still shouting at them and disappeared in Prospect Street. Only in that moment did the crowd break into the house and started to search the college for the desecrated bodies of several distinguished persons from Ohio City (today’s western part of the city on the left bank) which the students reportedly used for learning purposes. Now the cause of the rebellion, racket and ravaging was brought to light.
Early that morning the news spread around the whole town and its surroundings that dead bodies of two citizens were stolen from the Ohio City cemetery and taken to this college, so that the students could learn to perform the autopsy. The community considered such behavior as violation of the law, and much more: desecration, violation of graves, and breaching all the principles of ethics and humanity. Speaking the words of the people, the offenders or initiators of such a “cemetery crime” deserved severe punishment, if not the gallows.
Something must have been true on the rumor because when the crowd, shouting and screaming, broke the door of the autopsy room, they found a naked corpse of a man in one corner, and a human skeleton standing in another. The scene drove them to distraction. People got down to destroying closets and tables, autopsy instruments and anything they could destroy. Late in the afternoon, the crowd slowly dispersed and everyone wended their way home. However, doctors and students did not dare come close to the college for many days and only restored it when things were peaceful again.
That was the end of the first great people’s rebellion in 1852.”
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