Discovery of human skull in CWE may be linked to cholera outbreak in 1849

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ST. LOUIS – Dirt, weeds, and old sticks are normally the debris construction workers discover while setting up the foundation for any project.

However, on Monday something a little different arose at a construction site in the Central West End.

Surprisingly, a human skull appeared.

“There’s people in a lot of places under our feet that we don’t know,” historian Amanda Clark said.

Clark is the community tourist manager for The History Museum in Forest Park.

When we told her the area where the skull had been found, she immediately knew where the skull may be remnants of.

“When you’re building and digging within the city limits of St. Louis, you run the risk of finding people because we’ve lived here for so long,” said the historian.

Clark says back in 1849 cemeteries had to be built to bury the nearly 5,000 people who died from a cholera outbreak.

At one point, she says nearly 100 people were dying from it per day with no explanation.

“At the time, they thought maybe it was in the air,” said Clark. “Maybe it was on vegetables, maybe it was coming from God that if you sin then you get cholera. And at the same time, the city is growing quickly.”

Deaths started slowing down in August of 1849 and now some 170 years later a skull from that time is discovered.

While the St. Louis Medical Examiner tries to piece together more information on this unknown skull, Clark says discoveries like this should come as no surprise as we try to find more space in areas that were once resting places.

“History is never really that far away.”

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