No, not the Dunning of Kruger fame; Dunning, the community area on the far northwest side of Chicago.
Workers building a new school in the neighborhood discovered that not only was it the former site of a poor house, but also that 38,000 people may be buried there:
“There can be and there have been bodies found all over the place,” said Barry Fleig, a genealogist and cemetery researcher who began investigating the site in 1989. “It’s a spooky, scary place.”
Workers have until April 27 to excavate and clear the site, remediate the soil and relocate an existing sewer line. The school is scheduled to open in time for the 2019-20 academic year, though a spokesperson for Chicago Public Schools would not say what type of school it will be.
Fleig said he’s “nearly certain” there are no intact caskets buried underneath the proposed school grounds — bodies were primarily buried in two formal cemeteries, though scattered human remains have been discovered during previous construction projects near the campus.
In 1854, the county opened a poorhouse and farm and gradually added an insane asylum, infirmary and tuberculosis hospital to the property. At its peak, a thousand people were buried on the grounds each year.
The state took over in 1912 and changed the official name to Chicago State Hospital. Buildings were shuttered in 1970 and operations moved west of Oak Park Avenue to what is now Chicago-Read Mental Health Center.
In 1854, the site would have been a few hours' ride from the city. So I'm glad to see that the American tradition of dumping the poor in places where they can't possible thrive was as strong then as now. I'm a little shocked that a pauper's cemetery acquired so many corpses in sixty years, though.