Bluestocking Journal

Real history, through the eyes of a fictional person

Tag: madness

Tuesday, December 24, 1912

This story is so bizarre that I am simply going to copy the whole thing into my book:

“James Jackson, aged nineteen, terrorized the Jympsum neighborhood, twelve miles north of Vandalia, when he shouldered his shotgun and said he was going to celebrate Christmas. He ‘shot up’ the houses in the neighborhood and set fire to his mother’s house, but the flames were subdued. A dozen men in the immediate neighborhood tried to capture Jackson, but when they attempted to close in on him Jackson opened fire, and in the melee he shot and wounded six of his pursuers. Then he went to the home of his grandmother, Mrs. Eliza Wilkie, set fire to her house and burned it completely. Constable Carroll and posse started out to capture Jackson and found him in a dazed condition with his clothes nearly burned off. Jackson was brought to Vandalia and is in a serious condition as a result of his burns.”

I took scissors to today’s paper to save this picture of a clever umbrella:


Saturday, November 23, 1912

John Schrank, the man who shot Theodore Roosevelt, has been examined by a team of alienists and declared to be insane. He will be committed to an asylum at Oshkosh, Wisconsin.

Here in town, Arthur Ogle, the Illini editor charged with contempt of court for publishing an editorial, was fined $10 and costs. Judge Philbrick said that the penalty was slight for such an attack on the integrity of the grand jury. “If it had been published in an ordinary newspaper of general circulation I should impose a severe penalty.”

Wednesday, November 20, 1912

SERVANT IN THE HOUSE MAKES WOE,” says the headline: A former cook at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house issued a writ in the Champaign court, seeking to regain two dozen knives and forks, a pair of gold opera glasses, and a sofa pillow which she claims the fraternity members, “angered because she left them without notice, refuse to surrender to her.” Law students at the house are preparing to fight the case.

Out of mixed amusement and horror, I will reproduce this item in “Illinois News by Telegraph,” from Sterling, in full: “Winfield Andrews, street car motorman, has emerged unscathed from wrecks and from affrays with belligerent passengers, but the unruly conduct of his own nasal equipment has put him out of the running and sent him to the hospital for repairs. Andrews was taken with a fit of sneezing. ‘Give us another volley,’ cried passengers on Andrews’ car, after he had ‘kerchooed’ ten times. ‘You’re just getting good.’ Andrews smiled between facial contortions and went at it again. He kept at it without a break for eight minutes. At the end of that time a doctor took an inventory of the damage done by the sneeze storm and found that Andrews had three loosened ribs and a dislocated shoulder.”

In Los Angeles, a grotesquely masked maniac with “an infernal machine containing enough dynamite to destroy an entire city block, a bottle of nitroglycerine and a .45 caliber revolver” took possession of the Central police station and held it for over an hour. A detective slipped behind him and knocked him unconscious, and the infernal machine’s fuse was lighted automatically! The detective hurled the machine into the street, where luckily there was no explosion, and the detective kicked at the dynamite and jumped on the fuse until it was put out.

Lastly, this advertisement made me laugh, which perhaps was the point, and perhaps not:

Thursday, November 14, 1912

James Cain, a farmer, appeared at the Lewis store where Margaret Lowry works as a bookkeeper and asked to escort her home. Months earlier she had rejected him, and so she refused, but he persisted until she agreed. On South Randolph street near her home, he exclaimed, “This is a good place,” and hit her twice on the back of the head with a hammer. Her condition is critical. The mangled body of her attacker, which could only be identified by his ring and hat, was found scattered along the Illinois Central track; it is believed to be a suicide.

James Eaton, the man who went mad with drink on election day and tried to kill a man at the polling place, was arrested yesterday. He was at the side of his dying baby and pleaded to be allowed to stay, but he was taken to the jail.

A Chicago woman was placing lighted blessed candles on the graves of relatives, when her clothing caught fire. A man ran to her and wrapped her in his overcoat, quenching the flames, but she was fatally injured.

After those stories of horror, I don’t know what to make of this next one. At first I thought it might be a made-up story because of the names. In Philadelphia, Magistrate Coward decided that it is no crime to call a policeman a “gink.” Policeman Pill of the vice squad had arrested Jack Hanlon, a former pugilist, whom he accused of calling him a gink while Pill was on duty. Said the judge, “I’m called worse things than that a dozen times a day. I don’t care how you take it. If that is all that the man said you had no right to arrest him.” During cross-examination by Hanlon’s lawyer, Pill admitted that he did not even know what the word meant.

Wednesday, November 13, 1912

Am I the only one who finds typographical errors amusing? I was amazed to see that in this Kaufman & Company advertisement, they managed to spell “chrysanthemums” correctly but failed utterly at “Illinoisans,” “Champaign’s,” and “loyalty.” I don’t even know what to say about “There are FREE.”

A man in Benton, Illinois, purchased a revolver and vowed to kill all the “Bull Moosers” with whom he came in contact. First he entered a grocery store, but the weapon failed to discharge, and he was arrested and later adjudged insane and taken to the asylum.

In New York, the notorious suffragist Maud Malone was found guilty of wilfully disturbing a public meeting. When Woodrow Wilson spoke in the Brooklyn academy of Music on October 20, Miss Malone insisted on knowing his views on woman suffrage. “Since Mr. Wilson has never committed himself on that subject he evaded her question. Miss Malone insisted, and was arrested.”

Tuesday, November 12, 1912

“Interest in the indictment of four students for riot, this morning, paled somewhat when Arthur H. Ogle, editor of the Illini, the daily University newspaper, was arrested on a writ of attachment and brought before Judge Philbrick on a charge of contempt of court. An editorial in Saturday’s Illini, entitled “A Mock Tribunal,” in which the grand jury’s method was criticized for its investigation of the recent student riot, resulted in Ogle’s indictment and arrest.”

That is no joke, but here is a joke that also appeared in today’s Courier (“puzzle factory” is a slang term for “insane asylum”):

A highbrow was visiting the puzzle factory. As he passed cell 23 the grinning inmate demanded a hearing. “I must admit that I am at a loss for a suitable reply,” said the highbrow. “Tell me, why is a crow?”

“Caws,” grinned No. 23.

Tuesday, November 5, 1912

All I have to report upon today is loads of madness and death. Perhaps it is is somehow indicative of my character that I should find these stories interesting, out of all the stories in the paper, but I think I will avoid dwelling upon that.

The big news from Chicago is that Conway, “the wooden-footed clown,” has confessed to the murder of Miss Sophia Singer. He said, “Sophia came to the rooms where we were living together and asked my wife to go out with her with two men. She wanted her to do something that was immoral. That made me angry and we got into a quarrel.” His wife, he said, left the room, and Miss Singer attacked him with a handkerchief containing a doorknob. He seized it from her, she snatched up a nearby razor, and he struck her with the doorknob-kerchief. Not knowing she was dead, he said, he gagged her and tied her up, and left with his wife. “I did not mean to kill her, but if a man cannot protect the name of his own wife, who in the world will?”

A woman named Pansy Lesh has confessed in Los Angeles to the murders of two women in Missouri by poison; a prominent alienist says she is sane, and Mrs. Lesh agrees, although she says she has no idea why she killed either of them. A Chicago negress (who is a spirit medium and crystal gazer) was found guilty of poisoning her son for the purpose of collecting life insurance; five other members of her family (two husbands, a brother-in-law, and two children) were also murdered, but it is not known whether she poisoned them too. And a millionaire cigar manufacturer was taken to the Boston Hospital for the Insane because he fears that someone is trying to poison him.

Here is news from Joliet: “Driven insane by the constant clicking of a telegraph sounder, Mrs. Mabel Plumbe, an employe [sic] of the Postal Telegraph company for twenty-five years, killed herself by firing a bullet into her brain.”

A horrible ten-year-old girl in Pennsylvania named Gazelle buried a five-year-old girl alive in the woods. Detectives with bloodhounds found the child, and she is now in critical condition.

I will end this day’s report of death and madness with the sad story of an actor whose corset was laced too tightly while impersonating a woman. He was stricken with apoplexy onstage, and he died in the hospital.

Tuesday, October 29, 1912

Vice-President Sherman lies at the point of death. He has Bright’s disease and a weakened heart. His doctor did not disclose his critical condition until last night. “The secretiveness of the physicians was undoubtedly inspired by a desire to hide the true situation regarding Mr. Sherman’s illness in the closing hours of the campaign, in which he is a candidate for re-election to the second highest office in the land.”

A couple from Fort Wayne, Indiana, eloped by flying 71 miles to Hillsdale, Michigan, and wrecking their aeroplane during the landing. They were married in their hospital beds.

Surgeons in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, removed 102 nails, two keys, a button hook, and a partly digested three-inch iron spike from the stomach and intestines of a man they are calling “the human ostrich.” The man has craved metal since accidentally swallowing some shingle nails ten years ago.

Finally, there is a short article mocking Johns Hopkins university for studying “the blues” as a mental disorder. Whoever wrote the piece (for it is not attributed) says that “the blues” has its origin in the stomach or liver and recommends “a dose of calomel followed by a sane system of eating and living.”

Friday, October 18, 1912

Francis Ganalon, the “wild man” who took possession of a house in Tolono and who claimed to own all of the public buildings and farmland in this county, has escaped from the asylum for the insane. As Mr. Ganalon tends not to keep such a low profile, I believe we have not heard the last of him.

“A wild-eyed stranger, hatless and poorly clothed and excitedly claiming to have witnessed a frightful train wreck,” appeared at the Johnson residence just south of Sidney early this morning. Sidney officers brought the stranger, who first gave his name as Con Graney and later as Dan Conley, to Urbana, where he was adjudged insane. The prisoner imagined himself to be in Chicago. Although clad in the attire of a common laborer, the mystery man has a refined face, and his hands are small and uncalloused. “The rough exterior does not disguise the refined and intellectual appearance of the man and the authorities are considerably puzzled.”

Myrtle Bowers, employed in a knitting mill, put her name and address into a stocking before it was shipped. A Florida man bought the stocking, the two corresponded, and they were married in Rockford, Illinois.

George R. Lunn, Socialist mayor of Schenectady, New York, and six of his Socialist co-workers have been arrested on a charge of rioting and thrown in jail in Little Falls. The mayor, his wife, and a number of others had attempted to address groups of striking employees in the streets there without a permit.

Wednesday, October 16, 1912

When asked if he regretted shooting Theodore Roosevelt, John Schrank replied, “Regret that I did not kill him—that is what I feel. It was the greatest failure I ever had in my life and I have had many.” He called Roosevelt “the great American political boss. He waves his hat and we are all to obey. I hate him when he waves that hat of his and the people shout and he shows his teeth. Especially I hate his teeth.”

Schrank scoffs at the idea that he is crazy. “I have been watching this man Roosevelt ever since the assassination of William McKinley. The murdered president has appeared to me several times in dreams. Once he sat up in his coffin and pointed at Roosevelt. ‘That man was responsible for my death,’ said Mr. McKinley. I have had my eye on him ever since.”

Roosevelt’s bullet wound is more severe than first thought, but the doctors feel no present good can come of an operation to remove the bullet at this time, so there it will remain. Blood poisoning is the larger worry now.