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Benjamin Franklin's House Has a Secret Underground Room Filled with Adult, Children Skeletons -- Here's Why

Sep 09, 2016 04:10 AM EDT
Founding father Benjamin Franklin has some skeletons in his closet – literally, and by "some" that means over a thousand.
(Photo : Joseph Duplessis (1725–1802) via National Portrait Gallery, Washington/Wikimedia Commons)

Founding father Benjamin Franklin has some skeletons in his closet -- literally, and by "some" that means over a thousand.

According to a report from The Guardian, when restoration work was being undertaken on the London house of Benjamin Franklin, there was a small pit discovered in the windowless basement. In the pit was a human thigh bone. Eventually, more than 1,200 pieces of bone were unearthed from the basement of one of the most influential figures in American history.

The bones were turned over to the Institute of Archaeology, where it was determined that the collection belonged to a range of people from an old man to a human baby. There were some that had been trepanned or chopped.

No, it's unlikely that the man on the hundred-dollar bill pulled a "Dexter" and is a mass murderer at night. However, he may have been supporting an underground anatomy school by friend and protégé William Hewson.

The site of the house was a good spot for the budding anatomist with resurrection men smuggling corpses from the graveyard and a public execution every week at the gallows just on the opposite side of the garden wall.

The prospect of studying anatomy may not be as horrific as murder, but back in Franklin's time, the mere study of the human body was frowned upon, to say the least. A report from Mental Floss revealed that pioneers had to resort to illegal means to practice their science.

While Franklin was no anatomist himself, the founding father was notoriously interested in different subjects. In an article by History, some of the more obscure facts about Franklin included his success in a variety of subjects. Among them are his success as a young writer, his invention of a "glass armonica" instrument used by Mozart and Beethoven, his creation of a phonetic alphabet and his love for the sport of swimming.

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