Source: Chicago Sunday Tribune
Source type: newspaper
Document type: article
Document title: “Czolgosz’s Bones to Be in Museum”
City of publication: Chicago, Illinois
Date of publication: 13 October 1901
Volume number: 60
Issue number: 286
|“Czolgosz’s Bones to Be in Museum.” Chicago Sunday Tribune 13 Oct. 1901 v60n286: part 7, p. 51.|
|Leon Czolgosz (autopsy); Leon Czolgosz (disposal of remains); presidential assassinations (comparison); Charles J. Guiteau; John Wilkes Booth.|
|John Wilkes Booth; Boston Corbett; Leon Czolgosz; James A. Garfield; Charles J. Guiteau; Daniel S. Lamb; Abraham Lincoln.|
Czolgosz’s Bones to Be in Museum
Will Be Kept with Those of Guiteau and Wilkes Booth in Washington.
UNCLE SAM has a rat in his trap—a human rat, fierce and vicious, with poisoned
fangs. He is going to kill it like any other vermin, but mercifully. It will
die by electricity, quickly and surely.
The electric death is a stroke of harnessed lightning. There will be a spasmodic struggle, and then, after a moment or two, the body of the assassin, Czolgosz, will be declared without life by the physicians in attendance. It will be handed over to them immediately for an autopsy, and, without losing an unnecessary minute, they will subject it to a searching examination.
The first step will be an inspection of the brain, which, being removed, will be photographed. A plaster mold will then be taken from it, so that its form may be reproduced in a cast. All this will require only a few moments, and, as soon as it is accomplished, the medical men will dissect the brain in order to ascertain whether it exhibits any peculiarities of structure or alterations due to disease.
This, barring the photograph and the mold in plaster, was the process carried out in the case of Charles J. Guiteau, the murderer of Garfield, and also in that of Wilkes Booth, the assassin of Lincoln.
Certain portions of the brain of Czolgosz, particularly of the gray matter of the cortex or rind, will be put aside for examination at leisure with the aid of the microscope. Then the physicians will make a complete inspection of the rest of the body, including all the vital organs, taking copious notes, which later on will furnish the material for an official report.
Finally the body will be skeletonized, and the bones, though technically the property of the State of New York, will be formally surrendered to the government. It is probable that they will be forwarded in a box to the War department at Washington and will be stored away. Eventually they will be strung together and placed on exhibition, but not until many years have passed.
The bones of Guiteau, preserved in like fashion, have been stored away at Washington for nearly twenty years. They are not on exhibition because it is not desired to excite a morbid curiosity in the popular mind, as would be the case if they were shown to the public. People would come in crowds to gape at them, and the effect would be rather unwholesome than otherwise.
At some time in the future the skeletons of Czolgosz and Guiteau will doubtless dangle side by side, in most appropriate contiguity and companionship, in the Army Medical Museum. Meanwhile they will remain in storage. Guiteau’s bones at the present moment are neatly stowed away in an oblong wooden box in the basement of the institution aforesaid.
An attempt was made to take a cast of Guiteau’s brain immediately after he was hanged, but it was a failure. It was carefully examined, however, and was found to be much diseased. There were, indeed, extensive lesions or alterations of structure, due to disease—a fact which was especially interesting in view of the claim of insanity made by his counsel in behalf of the assassin. The medical men stated, however, that such lesions did not necessarily imply derangement of the mind—were not incompatible, as they expressed it, with a perfectly normal state of the mental function.
The brain is preserved to this day in a glass jar by Dr. D. S. Lamb of Washington, who performed the autopsy.
Another curiosity in the possession of Dr. Lamb is some arsenic which was brought to the assassin by his sister at the District jail. It was only a few hours before he was to be hanged, and the death watch had already been set on him. The woman came to see him with a bouquet of flowers in her hand, and one of the watchmen noticed that some sort of white powder was scattered upon the blossoms. He confiscated the flowers, and sent them to the Army Medical Museum, where it was found that they contained enough arsenic to kill three men. By chewing them the prisoner might easily have swallowed enough of the poison to kill him.
The government received an offer of $30,000 cash from the proprietor of a dime museum for Guiteau’s body, the idea of the enterprising showman being to embalm the corpse and inclose it in an air-tight glass case for exhibition. Probably this was the largest sum ever offered for a cadaver.
The body of Guiteau, on being cut down, was buried at the jail, but was promptly dug up again at the request of the physicians and conveyed secretly to the Ford’s Theater Building, at that time occupied by the Army Medical Museum. It will be remembered as an interesting coincidence that this was the very building in which Abraham Lincoln had been murdered seventeen years and two months previously.
Guiteau’s ghost is said to haunt the District jail to this day, and many of the prisoners in that penal institution are much afraid of it. On one occasion a negro, occupying the assassin’s cell, was almost frightened to death by a fellow-convict in a cell across the corridor, who slowly rolled marbles, one after another, into the little brick-walled room which the murderer of Garfield had inhabited. The mysterious sounds were too much for the nerves of the victim of the joke, and he was found by the guards in a condition of collapse.
The body of Wilkes Booth was not skeletonized. However, before he was buried at the District jail a thorough autopsy was performed. Three vertebrć of his neck were preserved, and these are now on exhibition at the Army Medical Museum, with a steel bodkin thrust through the hole to show the course of the bullet which was made by Boston Corbett’s shot. The ball struck Booth on the right side of the neck, and plowed its way directly through the spinal cord. Of course, the wounded man was entirely paralyzed, and the records of the case show that he survived the injury only a few hours.
Also, there is exhibited, on the same shelf with the vertebrć, a piece of the injured spinal cord of the assassin, preserved in alcohol.
Of such a kind is the immortality earned by murderers of our Presidents—indefinite preservation of their bones and the undying horror and hatred of a generous and freedom-loving people.