On November 6th, 1857, Pinkerton detectives, under the charge of Timothy Webster, arrested grave robbers in Chicago. The arrests came after a weeklong stakeout of a Chicago cemetery.

The history of grave robbing for the purpose of medical study dates back to the eighteenth century. As the study of medicine advanced, cadavers were needed for research and teaching. However, laws at the time kept the supply of cadavers well below the demand. Because of this, medical schools often tuned to grave robbers, known as resurrectionists, for their needs. It was this need that brought City Sexton Martin Quinlan and Rush Medical College student Eli York into the Chicago cemetery to unearth bodies on a cold, dark November night.

Read more in my article linked to this post, or in my book, A Spy for the Union: The Life and Execution of Timothy Webster.