This building, built in 1836 by Ira Minard, served as site of Minard's company store until the early 1840s when Franklin Medical College took over the building.
Franklin Medical College, the first medical school in Illinois, existed only for a brief seven year period. George W. Richards, an established doctor, founded the school in 1842. During its years in operation, the school offered courses in anatomy, pharmacy, surgery, and obstetrics. Classes ranging in size from 15 to 20 students trained under well known doctors who were considered experts in their respective fields. All seemed to be going well with the medical
school until one student, John Rood of Maple Park, made
the mistake of robbing the grave of a local young woman.
Rood, a student who was attempting to complete his education
in 1849, heard of the death of Mrs. George Kenyon. With
the help of George Richards, the son of the school's founder,
Rood took the young woman's remains from their resting place
in Sycamore. Though they hid her body in the Richards' barn,
the men had not gone unnoticed; people had seen and noted
the wagon and the young men's strange actions.
After hearing of the mysterious activities
of the medical students, the deceased woman's family discovered
the body's abscence. An angry group of citizens set out
to question Dr. Richards. Dr. Richards denied all knowledge
of the body's whereabouts. Once the citizens had left, Dr.
Richards learned the truth and ordered that the body be
taken from its hiding place. He hoped that by removing the
body from his property, he would be able to settle the matter
Unfortunately, the situation ended in a
violent manner. The group of citizens, doubting the word
of Dr. Richards, had decided to return to his home to secure
Mrs. Kenyon's body. On searching the property, the group
found a dissected male cadaver in the barn. This enraged
them, and when they returned to confront Dr. Richards at
his home, gunshots were fired through the Richards's door.
John Rood was killed and Dr. Richards was wounded.
There are two different accounts of what
happened next. One claims that following the gunfire, a
mediator got the students to reveal the location of the
body in exchange for immunity from punishment. The other,
a decidedly more intriguing account, had Mrs. Howard, a
local spiritualist, revealing the body's whereabouts. Either
way, Mrs. Kenyon's body was recovered and returned to her
As a result of this incident, the Franklin
Medical College closed. Dr. Richards moved to Dubuque, Iowa.
It is there that he died of pneumonia in 1853.
Not all bad came of "Richards' Riot." Officials
came to the realization that medical schools needed materials
in order to train. So that grave robbing was not the sole
option for medical students, a law was passed providing
that all unclaimed corpses from charity hospitals would
go to medical schools.
Over the years, this building that once
sat at the center of one of St. Charles's most colorful
events, has housed several businesses. Wilcox and Munn grocery
store was located here near the end of the 19th century.
During the 20th century it came to be known as the Borman
Hardware Building, and as the Lawyer's Building. The building
was originally constructed of stone and had arched windows.
Today, its exterior has been altered in such a way that
it barely resembles the original building.
photographs, see these sources,
more fully described in the Bibliography.
Franklin Medical College Vertical File
Leonard Howard House
- Architectural Survey, St. Charles
Central District, St. Charles:
St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission, 1995.
- Clauter, Hazel. Our Community--St.
Charles, IL: Units I-VI: Historical Information Compiled
for Thrid Grade Teachers. 1990.
- Edwards, Wynette A. St. Charles, Illinois.
Charleston: Arcadia Publishing, 1999.
- Harris, Mary Claire. "Richard's Riot
Marks St. Charles History." St. Charles Chronicle
4 March 1998.
- Jackson, Peg Tyndal. "St. Charles--Site
of Illinois' 1st Medical School." Fox Tales. Aurora:
Industrial Supply Company, May 1998.
- Zeuch M.D., Lucius H. History of Medical
Practice in Illinois, Vol. 1, Preceding 1850. Chicago:
The Book Press, 1927.