Dover Post: Smithsonian Scientist to Examine Kidnapper Patty Cannon’s Remains

From Dover Post —–
Dover, Del. —  Martha “Patty” Cannon, one of Delaware’s most notorious women, is about to get an autopsy of sorts, more than 180 years after her death.

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding Cannon, whose homestead on the southern Maryland/Delaware line served as a base from which she allegedly ran a gang that kidnapped free blacks in the early 1820s and sold them into slavery in the South. She never was charged for these crimes but instead was arrested in 1829 for the murder of four people, including a slave trader. She died in a Georgetown prison, supposedly a suicide, at age 70 while awaiting trial, and was buried in the adjoining graveyard.

For years what is thought to be her skull lay in a red hatbox in the Dover Public Library, most recently in the office of Library Director Margery Cyr.

In a journey Cannon herself probably never would have made, the relic was taken to Washington, D.C., June 22, where it is about to undergo some very modern scientific testing at the Smithsonian Institute.

A study of history

Dr. Chuck Fithian, curator of archaeology for the state Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs, said Dr. Douglas Owsley, chief of the Division of Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian, plans to examine and preserve the skull as part of a larger study of life in the Chesapeake from colonial times to the 19th century.

Article continues on Dover Post.

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