Oct 12, 2017

Missouri’s Mad Doctor McDowell Confederates, Cadavers and Macabre Medicine

Missouri State Archives (600 W. Main St., Jefferson City, MO 65101) from 7 to 8 p.m.

From the 1840s, until his death in 1868, Joseph Nash McDowell was one of the most influential and respected doctors west of the Mississippi. He is primarily remembered, however, for illegally exhuming corpses in order to study human anatomy. Described as a body snatcher, grave robber, mad scientist and brilliant surgeon, St. Louis’s Dr. McDowell was a man so loathed by the public that he wore body armor and so idolized by his anatomy students that they dug up corpses for his experiments. This ghoulish doctor cast a pall over the city and left a host of fiendish mysteries. Did his mother’s ghost actually help him escape an angry mob? Did he really hang the corpse of his daughter in Hannibal’s Mark Twain Cave? What very real horrors remained in his medical college after loyal Unionists drove him out? Dissect a life shrouded in speculation and a legend littered with ghosts as author Victoria Cosner delves into the macabre world of Missouri’s “Mad Doctor McDowell.”