Samuel F. Few Autopsy of Rees Perkins Brown
May 22, 1856

In this account published in the Chicago Tribune, Samuel F. Few details the story of performing an autopsy for a murder case and also shares his political opinions, calling himself "a pro-slavery man."


            Samuel F. Few, sworn. — I have been a physician for eight years ago, graduate of College of Virginia, &c. I am not practicing now. I now reside adjoining this city and have been here since 1854. I date my claim back from that time. 

            I was called one intensely cold Sunday last winter to go to Mr. Brown’s house and examine some wounds. I declined going, as it was so cold, but said if they would bring the body near my cabin. I would examine it in connection with another.  That was on the day of his burial. The body miscarried by some means. 

            Some time afterwards a brother of Mr. Brown, deseased, asked me to go and examine his brother’s body, in connection with two other physicians. I was somewhat engaged at the time; I told to go to the grave, exhume the body, and I would be there by that time. I examined the head; there was no offensive odor about the body; decomposition had not commenced. I saw only two wounds—one a superficial one over the eyebrow, a sharp cut, a flesh wound, which did no fatal injury; another a cut over the left temple. In opening the lips of the wound, I passed by finger the full length to the base of the brain. I found lying on the brain a portion of the temple bone. I could not get it out with one finger, so I introduced two fingers through the wound into the cavity without enlarging it artificially.

            The wound was caused by a sharp weapon— a hatchet, I should think. The wound was necessarily fatal.  

            I was engaged in building my cabin at the time of the November election; I know nothing about illegal voting, if there as any, because I voted almost as soon as the polls were opened, and left immediately. I know of some men coming over from the island opposite; it is 2 1-2 miles long and from three-fourths of a mile to a mile and a half long—but I don’t know whether the island belongs to Missouri or not. [It belongs to Missouri, and was her’s long before she was a State.] I think there was a pro-slavery majority in this district at that time. I think Mr. Flennigan came here with Governor Reeder. Flennigan left the Territory as soon as the returns announced that he was defeated. I had no talk with Mr. Flennigan as we went down the river in a boat together, from a sense of delicacy. Some one cried out when he entered the boat, “Hurrah for Whitfield,” and I thought his feelings might be wounded by any allusion to the subject after that, especially as he knew that I was a pro-slavery man, and that I voted against him. 


“Brown’s Murder,” Chicago Tribune, May 22, 1856.