Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bostwick's Curse Was McMullen's Downfall

The Detroit Free Press, December 7, 1920

Never let the doctor's orders for a bottle of benzine, wood alcohol and gasoline come between you and your thirst. Else you might sing yourself into the slammer on attempted murder charges.

Charles McMullen, it seems, was causing quite a ruckus while under the influence of his potent elixir in the smoking lounge when Almon Bostwick, a one-armed overseer, took umbrage with his antics. In response, Charles proceeded to stab Bostwick six times in the gut. He then moved in for the kill when another one-armed inmate, John Prus, dealt McMullen a blow to the head with his cane.

Order was restored, McMullen was arrested, put on trial and sentenced to 2-5 years in Jackson Prison. Bostwick apparently recovered.

The Detroit Free Press, February 22, 1921

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Laura Ouellette Suicides From the Deck of the Ferry Excelsior

The Detroit Free Press, August 13, 1909
It's doubtful that you have gone through all the articles on this blog but if so, then you might recall the story above. I didn't when I re-found it in the Freep archives but it's been in mine for a few years so I thought I would investigate further.

There's not much to be gleaned from her young life of 22 years except that she formerly was employed by the Michigan Telephone company, did a stint at Eloise and had a history of suicide attempts. The fact that passenger Charles McKay identified her as a woman in her 40s might suggest that she had some physical issues or deformities which contributed to her mental anguish.

As the story proclaims, suicide via the ferry boat was a common occurrence. Ms. Ouellette simply leaped from the second deck, submerged into the water, rose up to the light of day, went back down and never surfaced again of her own accord.

Her parents had been keeping a close watch on the girl and when news of the incident became public her father contacted authorities with the belief that it was his Laura. His suspicions were confirmed.

The Detroit Free Press, August 12, 1909

Monday, November 16, 2015

Frances Whittaker Shipped to Ionia

Fourteenth Biennial Report of the Michigan State Board of Corrections and Charities, 1897-98
I was preoccupied with the care of my daughter this past weekend and figured that I should get something written now that I've taken leave. Since I haven't had time to research I am revisiting material that I found weeks ago while searching for Lulu Terpening.

One of the more useful pieces of information was provided by the 1897-98 publication "Fourteenth Biennial Report of the Michigan State Board of Corrections and Charities." So I followed that path and found a few other patients who resided at the Wayne County Asylum and were transferred to Ionia because of their dangerous tendencies. Frances Whittaker was one such case. Unfortunately, I can find no further writings concerning her. However, I did find her death certificate which shows that she remained at Ionia for the rest of her life.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Young John Couldn't Kolp With His Illness

The Detroit Free Press, August 30, 1903
John Kolp (spelled wrong in the article again) had a faulty chest pump but no lack of heart. He also had a streak of defiance that put his very life at stake. After being sent to reform school by his mother and stepfather at ten he lived on a farm in Royal Oak for several years. Upon entry into manhood he was left without a home or occupation due to a heart condition. It was then he applied for entry into the Poorhouse.

Meanwhile, through the advertisement of his plight in the newspaper or some other family reunion, Kolb took residence at his grandparents' home at 162 St. Joseph Street (they apparently moved two days later in Free Press reality).

The Detroit Free Press, October 3, 1903
Thus began the drama. He started running away from home every few days, occasionally helping himself to a few hard-earned dollars of the August Kleins. I'm sure that the newspaper attention didn't help the matter

The Detroit Free Press, October 5, 1903
Needless to say, he went to Eloise.

The Detroit Free Press, October 6, 1903
As for his life afterwards: could this possibly be him?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Hit & Run (With a Bout of Temporary Insanity & Inceration Tossed Into the Mix)

The Detroit Free Press, March 25, 1906
You can call him Erousealiouchik or Jerozolinczyk or just plain Moses because whatever this guy's name was it's easily the most mispronounced in the history of Eloise, and with good reason. What's without merit is how a guy who smashed a brick over a woman's head, almost causing her death, is allowed to walk away from the asylum with nary a notice. Such were the lax conditions at Eloise.

Even Mrs. S(c)huster's name changed in the six months between the incident of her flogging and Moses's escape. Which can mostly be blamed on the Free Press's utter incompetence in most things fact-based. They were notorious for printing errors (the date of the attack differs between these articles as well) but without their archives it's a Herculean task tracking down most of this information. Plus, we get a glimpse at an Eloise patient through grainy duplication of newspaper print.

Anyway, I haven't been able to track Moses after his escape to Cincinnati but that's a good thing because it gives me something to shoot for.

The Detroit Free Press, October 14, 1905

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Send Word to My Brother John

The Detroit Free Press, January 21, 1899
"Who am I?" is the eternal question. "I don't know." answers its echo. And so was the case of Michael Keveny. Except that he knew exactly who he was but his echo died with his name.

After a life of wandering the United States Michael Keveny finally made his way back to his roots in Michigan to die. He somehow meandered into Wayne via Point St. Ignace, sickly and lost. A concerned citizen led him to the County House where he lay near death uttering a few dying words. His last being, "Send word to my brother John."

After some investigative work they tracked down John Keveny who attempted to identify his erstwhile brother but could not. A missing mole, an unfamiliar beard and the look of a Frenchman gave John the impetus to conclude that it was not his brother.

Other family members weren't so sure either but one from Birmingham believed that it was. The Poor Commission didn't know one way or the other. And now...

The Detroit Free Press, January 21, 1899
we don't really know either. Though John Kolb, the poor inspector, who grew up with the family and was close to them said that all indications pointed to it being Michael Keveny. Since I've yet to find a follow-up story, a death certificate or any other information I can only guess that it's him as well.

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Short Profile of Grandma Smith

This paragraph from a longer article (see below) concerning the annual visit of the Board of Supervisors to the Poor House and Asylum gives a blurry characterization of one "Grandma" Smith.

She was an old woman who had apparently spent some years at the House after living in Detroit. She describes how the institution  improved under the watch of Edgar Howard and his wife, who took their positions in 1866, and specifically the matron, Mrs. Howard, saying that "one good manager is worth a dozen mere workers."

Unfortunately, there aren't many specifics here and the surname Smith is as common as hayseeds. But it's a lead and that's more than I knew an hour ago.

The Detroit Free Press, October 21, 1870