« Lore

Episode 184: Falling to Pieces

2021-10-25 | 🔗

History is filled with people who gathered unusual collections, often following a curiosity or passion to the extreme. But among those collectors, there have been those who have taken things too far. And the objects of their obsession have become the stuff of nightmares.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
Everyone loves to collect things. It might run the spectrum from the casual gathering a favorite toys to the intricate organization of classic valuable collectibles, but there is no denying the popularity of the act sure you can remember one or two of your childhood collections. I know I can Let me tell you no one else in my neighborhood had as many buckeyes as me in the third grade. Honestly, if it was significant, valuable or just plain cool, all of us at one time or another, have started a cool, and most people accumulate normal objects, but every now and then you can bump into things that are more unusual. We ve all seen. tv episodes over the years that dive deep into this weird world homes filled with beer cans, basements overflowing with boxes of beanie babies.
Name a pop culture icon, and there are probably dozens, even hundreds of people out there who collect anything related to it. When I think about big collections are always remember one of my father's friends he retired very young and spend years converting his home into a paradise for lovers of baseball memorabilia guy. Worn uniforms signed baseball cards, toys, you name it. He had it. But if there's one thing I've learned about people over the years, it's that humans as a species are very good at crossing the line. We have a tendency to take things too far and when we do, it often makes an impression Some people have never been satisfied with accumulating happy meal, toys or rare coins their drawn to something different, something darker and their collections across history have demonstrated one truth. That's difficult for many of us do so.
If there's one thing humans have always been good at collecting. It's ourselves, I'm Erin Maggie, and this is lore. Let's be honest None of us are strangers to seeing dead things on display. After all, that's what taxidermy as right? Technically it's the art of preserving and animal skin together with everything else that makes it what it is. Its feathers source or even scales, and the practice has been around for thousands of years Is it a serious field? Absolutely and did it help advance natural science through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries for sure, but it's also left us with some truly unusual collections,
For example, did you know that the older surviving example of taxidermy is a crocodile that's on display in a cathedral and panted? No, sir, ITALY? Actually, no one is sure just how old it is, but there are, heard of it being temporarily move during some renovations in one thousand five hundred and thirty four. So at the very least, it's nearly five hundred years old why it's been kept in a cathedral of all places. Is a mystery to me, but I have to assume the people their believe its beneficial in some way. You know for the greater good, but beyond Taxidermy humans have been using animal parts as charms for a very long time. The rabbit's foot is a great example showing how people have attached supernatural powers to ordinary objects, purely because they came from a living thing.
U S, President Grover Cleveland on one given to him as a gift to bring him luck during his campaign. Interestingly, it was said to have come from a rabbit that had been killed on the grave of the Outlaw Jesse James, giving the charm even more power and significance. But if you look back on the pages of history and scan for body parts that were collected because of their significance, the truly dark stories are about something else: human bodies and while their use runs the spectrum. You can boy most of them down to two categories: relics and trophies. Now relics are something most people have a rough understanding of an unknown Of religions around the world human body, parts have taken on powerful, meaning in the Christian were
that began. Nearly two thousand years ago, with a movement that some scholars call the cult of the saints these people would this, inter the graves of revered and famous christian leaders and martyrs and bring their bodies, or at least pieces of them back home to put on display in their own places. Worship today it's hard to tour a european cathedral or castle and not see a gilded container on display with a sign that claims the bone of some early christian Saint is resting safely inside. Christians were the only people who were collecting human body parts to enhance their faith, There are many images of Hindu, deities wearing human skulls as jewelry or drinking from them like cups, and that's mirrored, the practices of a small group of Hindu followers known ass, the gory will use human bones in the rituals, in the middle of Sri Lanka is a Buddhist Temple known as the temple of the tooth without over stating the obvious, this temple holds a tooth that was said to belong to the boy.
taken from his funeral pyre by a disciple and like out of religious relics across the world. This tooth is said to give healing powers to the Temple that possesses it But there are only so many relics to go around right and that's where trophies come in there draw their power from connection to a major world religion, though. Instead their power is in how they were taken, and a great example is the global practice of scalping. from the indigenous peoples of North and South America to central european culture is like the citizens,
The winners in battle often brought home the scalps of their enemies, but what most people don't know is that it's an evolution of an older tradition of bringing home their entire heads. The trouble with human heads, though, is that their heavy and they take up a lot of space, and if your army was particularly successful, it became difficult to bring home all the heads necessary to make cops out of those skulls. So cultures evolved, opting to cut off lighter, more portable parts of the human body, in Japan, though they pick something else noses and ears, and many scholars think we have one man to think for that. A japanese futile Lord, named till you tell me he, the Yoshi. In the early fifteen nineties, he led his forces to invade the korean Peninsula and demanded that his soldiers prove their loyalty by bringing back severed noses and ears. The invasion failed, but the Japanese ended up with more than a hundred thousand of these human trophies on their hands, so they were buried in the city of Kyoto.
is a place called Mimi Zylka, which means ear mound its estimated that nearly forty thousand human ears and noses are buried inside each one, having first spent pickled in brine and then inspected before it was placed inside and there's a joke in there somewhere about picking your friends knows, but I'm going to leave that one for you to figure out. People have always been drawn: human body parts, whether as tools of faith or conquest, they had been central to many cultures around the world, but those are The only reasons that people have collected human remains, or some it's been a lot more personal
Every society has had to deal with killers, people who take the lives of other human beings without regard for their value and sanctity, but every now and then a killer comes along. Who takes a More than that, I dont know a single person who has ever heard of Jack the Ripper. In fact he just might be the most. Miss murderer in history thanks to sensationalist newspapers and are never ending hunger for unsolved mysteries and most people can give you the basic details about the case. What they often forget, though, is that Jack the Ripper did more than kill his victims. In many cases he left with his own personal trophies of the five victims that are accepted by historians as clearly the work of the ripper. There are instances of missing organs. The body of victim number two, for example, Annie Chapman, was found with her uterus missing victim number for Catherine echoes also had her uterus taken by
killer, as well as one of her kidneys and the last victim Mary Kelly was mutilated so badly that physicians work honestly unsure what organs might have been missing and is also important to point out. That when the White Chapel Vigilance Committee received the infamous from Hell Letter in October of eighteen, eighty eight it came with half a human kidney. The author of the letter claim that he kept the other half for himself, which he bride and ate and found Very nice and if America has their own counterpart to Jack the Ripper, it's probably hhhomes a figure. We've discussed here a couple of times before on the surface Holmes was a predator but used his position as the owner of an apartment, building in the middle of the busy one thousand eight hundred and ninety three world's columbian exhibition in Chicago to find his. comes, but homes was more than that. He started out as a medical student at the University of Michigan, where he routinely stole corpses and tried to use them in insurance fraud schemes either
Earlier than that, he was known as the kid who loved to torture animals so yeah. He had a lot of experience before arriving in Chicago. It was there, though, in his house of horrors that he truly came into own and, as he claimed the lives of more and more victims, they were each transported to the basement of the building where he made the evidence, go away Yes, a lot of it was dissolved and acid, but he did keep some parts for himself. The skeletons once cleaned and articulated many of those were sold to medical professionals as tools passing his trophies over to some one else, who would prize them for different reasons. But there are few words from history that hold a candle to Ed Gein, born in Wisconsin. In one thousand nine hundred and six, he was raised in a troubled home by an abusive mother. She refused to let him form friendships outside the house, forcing him to spend his childhood pretty much alone, and it had a visible effect on his personality, something his teacher
noticed early on as he got older, though those odd corks began to evolve into deadly Hobbes. Its believed by many that is first murder. Victim was his own brother Henry, and there were others. After but it was the murder of a woman named Bernice Warden, the owner of the local hardware, store that lead authorities to his door when they arrive. They discovered something out of a horror film, the body of Bernice.
and had been hung up and eviscerated like an animal. Her head, though, was in the kitchen, but as they looked around, the police found other items that were older and equally chilling. There was a waste basket covered in human skin balls made from human skulls. More skulls were found like ornaments on his bed posts and a lamp shade that was made from more human skin. They even found a pair of homemade leggings that gain had crafted from actual legs of another victim, and I wish that was his full list. But sadly, at gain was a busy man. If you have a strong stomach and are a bit more adventurous, you can do your own research easily, but I think the mess
It is clear. Some people throughout history have taken their hunger for human remains to a dark, horrific place. Thankfully we can rest easy. Knowing people like Jack, the ripper and add gain were rare outliers. They aren't the norm and are certainly not very common, at least that's the hope. Isn't it on a beautiful spring day in May of eighteen. Fifty eight some neighbourhood boys took a short cut through the graveyard in the irish village of Drum cliff. They might have been looking for a faster way home, but what they found was something much more terrifying. It was an open, grave and incited the vice.
Lady remains of a man that man it turns out was the former sheriff of Limerick, Ralph West drop Raritan. He had been a man with a reputation for large living, a sort of extrovert who love to throw parties entertained friends and laughed loudly. Some of the more reserve folks in town blame that on the years he spent in Paris decades earlier, but that was just a theory Brereton had passed away from apparent natural causes on March twenty third, just about five weeks prior to the crime. But what exactly that crime was still a mystery, The authorities got to work because not only had his grave been dug up and his coffin open, but his body had also been brutally cut into now. The first theory was a common one. Someone must have poisoned him and then returned after berry.
How to steal his stomach in a day and age when it was almost impossible to detect poisons in an autopsy. The stomach was one of the very few places they might have. Looked for proof. Killers in the past had done exactly the same thing. Returning later to cut out the stomach and dispose of it else Thankfully, before they could go, knocking on doors of people, they believed might be suspects. Someone notice that it wasn't actually the stomach that had been taken. I can't blame them no from what I've read the thieves weren't, the most precise anatomists around, and they made quite a mess of the poor old man. No, it turns out this. Something else had been stolen from Mr Raritan is fat. Now I know what you're thinking most of us are doing our best to get rid of fat so who in the world might actually dig up a month old corpse for it, while the answer may surprise, you
because even in eighteen fifty eight there was a good amount of superstition. Still lingering from an older era in one of those folk tales had to do with butter work with me here. My promise, it will all makes sense to you I finished you see back then there was a lot riding on the health of livestock cows provided milk, a lot of which was turned into butter, so the healthier the cows, the more butter you might have around. house, but rather than blame things like the weather or disease, if their butter production was low locals would often blame witchcraft, not witches per se. Apparently anyone could recite a simple spell. turning every cranky neighbour into a potential source for curses. Thankfully, though, there was a way to beat them at their own game and clues to that are embedded in the details of the crime. First, the date of rhyme, Britain's body had been dug up and mutilated on May first other is known as May Day or Bell Tain it
ancient day of celebrating a lot of things, including fertility and the return of life to the world. In the spring it was the beginning a new phase of the year, and because of that it was a limited space, a time of transition. When superstitions and magic had more power. And one of the most vulnerable elements in their lives at that time of the year was dairy, produce it an unusually high percentage of May day related superstitions have to do with the production of butter weird, I know, but this was incredibly important to folks at the time and second, the thing that was stolen, Britain's actual human fat wasn't a new thing because, as the authority started to poke around looking for answers, they quickly encountered the widely held belief that a butter charm could be crafted by anyone looking to protect their butter production. Are you needed? Was some human fat moulded into the shape of a cow?
no, which you would burn throughout May when the risk was the greatest. Like I said earlier, humans have a knack for crossing the line over the past thousand years, people from cultures around the world have turned a healthy love for collecting things into a dark obsession involving human remains frequently by violating a grave and almost always to support a superstitious belief. Stealing the fat from a corpse and then burning it like a candle, certainly fits that description and it probably didn't smell very good either, I am a collector. The odds are pretty good that you are too may be. For you, the hobby
is casual and it looks more like Europe saving important objects from your past than any sort of specific theme or maybe you inherited a collection from someone in your family. Turning you into a custodian of something larger than yourself. That's how the Motor Museum started back in eighteen. Fifty eight Thomas Dent murder was the physician in Philadelphia back in the first half of the nineteenth century and over his years in practice, he built up quite the collection of medical specimens. You know brutal looking metal instruments and glass jars filled with human organs and tumors suspended in preserving agents. It's one of those rare collections of human remains that transit
the line instead of crossing it in some bizarre way, it gathers a whole bunch of useful objects that have helped medical students grow in their knowledge and understanding, because sometimes even the oddest collections managed to serve a good purpose. The human fat fee from Drug Cliff Ireland was not one of them collectors now it at work. We honestly have no way of knowing that, as far as I can tell there are no records from the summer or fall of eighteen. Fifty eight documenting some increase in butter production. No locals were implicated in a plot to be which their neighbors livestock and no suspects work ever arrested or put on trial. For the third. Still. It was the single most exciting thing to happen in the Drum Cliff cemetery. That is hell: nineteen, thirty, nine, when legendary pie
William Butler Yeats was buried there turning the place into wholly ground for fans of irish literature. Thankfully no one has ever done him up, and for a relic, but of history is any indication that doesn't necessarily mean no one has ever thought about it. They just were willing to cross the line. Tales of those who have collected human remains will always be entertaining then a little horrifying, and there doesn't to be an end to them either. In fact, ice one more unique story of trophies and tragedy, and if you stick around through this brief sponsor break I'll, tell you all about it. This episode was made
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Her story was pretty common for Scotland in the early seventeen hundreds, even the records of her final days, show the sort of prejudice and biased she was, against by listing her name, half a dozen different ways. Sometimes she was called Lily and other times some variation on the name bilious either way she was in trouble. In June of Seventeen o for a neighbor accused lily of witchcraft, probably after some sort of disagreement really was around sixty years old at the time and there is no record of her having a husband, so she made the perfect target. She was old and unmarried, making her an outsider too many.
And I don't have to explain to you why it was bad to be accused of witchcraft in Scotland in those days between one thousand five hundred and sixty and one thousand seven hundred and thirty, roughly three thousand five hundred women were executed as witches. Although some estimates put that number much higher after all, good record, keeping wasn't import when it came to outsiders and heretics. So Lily was arrested and then they questioned her and it was exactly the sort of interrogation you might imagine from a witch trial to lots of leading the witness lots of questions about packs, with the devil in lots and lots of torture to make sure received the answers they were looking for. One of the women who testified against her Jean Gazette was recorded as seeming drunk and yet her claims of witchcraft aimed at Lily were believed by the courts. The deck was stacked against her and it was the sort of situation where you might expect her to fight back
But she didn't know lily did something different. She confessed or trial. Documents are filled with story. She told to the court's each one more detailed than the last. I have no idea why she did it Maybe she saw the futility in defending herself against a town that was hell bent on convicting her, but she just sort of leaned into her crime and when deep, Here she was officially charged and found guilty by the courts. They discovered that they had a new problem on their hands because Lily took control of the trial. One final time Taking her own life, while still in jail, which meant that she died before having the chance to repent a bad sign in their eyes to their options. The authorities decided to give her a deviants burial, a burial meant to prevent the body from coming back to life, otherwise, her Lord, the devil, would return for her resurrect her and then set her corpse loose on the community.
And honestly, no one wants and undead which terrorizing their village so lilies remains were placed in a box, probably much smaller than a coffin and then buried in the title area along the shore. It was those luminal spaces, a place, that's in between two worlds: the Sea and the earth, and therefore, in a powerful supernatural place as well After burying the box, a large stone was placed on top just an added measure to prevent her resurrection after that. moved on and soon enough Lily Addy was forgotten buried in the past just ass, she had been interred in the wet sand, Alongshore Nearly a century and a half later, though, that changed a local antiquarian named Joseph Neil Patent, discovered the location of lilies grave and hired some workers to help him take her up. He was,
interested in her skull being a follower of a new discipline called for analogy, but the rest of her remains were scattered. Among a handful of owners interesting side note, modern forensic experts have been able to use photographs of that skull to reconstruct her face, giving us the only known, accurate likeness of Scottish, which trial victim. But that's not the only thing people build Remember that small box that she was buried in well. It was broken down into smaller pieces of wood and then crafted into a handful of ordinates walking sticks. They might not have been actual human remains, but they had a deep connection to a woman executed for witchcraft and that was attractive. some people, many of the walking sticks found their way into private hands and at least two of them are in a museum in Scotland. Today. One of them, though, was owned, for a time by a man named Robert Brimmer who helped dig up her remains in eighteen, fifty two, but he wasn't its last owner. No, he events
We gave that walking stick to another man as a gift. A scottish born immigrant to the United States, who grew up to become one of the wealthiest men in the world. He forged his wealth in the steel industry and then poured much of it into libraries. All across Amerika is name Andrew Carnegie. This episode of war was written and produced by me, Aaron Monkey, with research by SAM L, birdie and music by Chad, Lawson lorries Much more than just a podcast there's a book series available in bookstores and online and two seasons of the television show on Amazon. Prime video check them both out. If you want more lore in your life
I also make an executive produce a whole bunch of other pod casts, all of which I think you'd enjoy my production, company grim and. old specializes in shows that sit at the intersection of the dark and the historical you can learn more about all of those. Was and everything else going on over in one central place, grim and mild dot com, and you can follow this show on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Just search for lore pod cast all one word and then click that follow button and when you do say hi, I like it when people say hi and as always, thanks for listening.
Transcript generated on 2022-02-22.