Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 23, 2018

Today’s Face-Down Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

“If there is such a thing as an Anti-Christ, it ain’t one man, but the whole white race.”

This was the final declaration of Marvin Francois, who was executed on May 29, 1985 in Florida by electrocution at age 39 for the brutal murder of six of eight residents of one home during a drug-related robbery.  All six were laid face-down with their hands tied behind their backs prior to being shot. 

Marvin’s Last Meal:
Shrimp, barbecued ribs, friend chicken breast, lobster tail, French fries, sliced tomatoes, watermelon, strawberries and coffee (he finished all but his coffee).

Marvin Francois: Angry, and hungry.

Culled from: Last Suppers: Famous Final Meals from Death Row

I found a lot more information about this case in the New York Times archive:

Marvin Francois, sentenced to death for killing six people when his mask fell off and exposed his face in a robbery, was executed today in the electric chair.

In his last words, the former heroin addict said that if an Antichrist existed it was ”the whole white race.”

Mr. Francois, a muscular black man, entered the death chamber at Florida State Prison and was strapped in at 7 A.M. The one-minute power surge was completed at 7:08 A.M. Ten minutes lapsed before Mr. Francois was pronounced dead, about four minutes longer than in past executions.

It was the third execution in Florida this year, the 13th since the state reinstated the death penalty in 1976 and the 44th in the country since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976.

Police Say It Was a Drug House

Mr. Francois, 39 years old, was convicted in the July 27, 1977, killing of six people in the robbery of what police termed a ”drug house” in the Miami suburb of Carol City.

Late Tuesday the United States Supreme Court denied a plea to postpone the execution. The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit denied Mr. Francois’s motions for a stay earlier Tuesday.

”I am as a grain of sand on the beach of the black race,” Mr. Francois said in a final statement he read to witnesses. ”The black race has lost its pride and dignity and is slowly dying from within and without. My death ends my tears, and the fortune of watching my race slowly die.”

After reading the statement, Mr. Francois added, ”If there is such a thing as an Antichrist, it ain’t one man but the whole white race.”

The prisoner was served a breakfast of lobster, shrimp, ribs, chicken and french fries.

His Mother Visits Him

Mr. Francois’s last visitors, who left at 1 A.M., were his mother, Muriel Hollingsworth of Miami; his friend Juanita Pace and his teen-age twins, Alexis and Aleasian Rolle, said Vernon Bradford of the Department of Corrections.

Court records indicate that after Mr. Francois’s mask fell off he said all eight people who had seen him would have to be killed. He shot six of the victims in the head with a shotgun, according to testimony. Two others were wounded but survived and testified against Mr. Francois, whose accomplices were also sentenced to die.

In a 1982 clemency interview, Mr. Francois said he never knew his father well and saw little of his mother. He testified that he tried heroin at the age of 16 and he maintained a $300- to $400-a-day habit in 1976.

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 22, 2018

Today’s Apparently Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

More than many forms of death, drowning retains a literary quality, as if the act of submersion itself connotes surrender, submission to something greater, or, among the despairing, the abandoning of all hope. Having used water imagery in much of her fiction, Virginia Woolf, fearing another bout of madness in the spring of 1941 as German bombs dropped on England, loaded the pockets of her heavy fur coat with stones and waded out into a favorite stretch of the River Ouse. The first wife of the romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned herself after Shelley took up with a sixteen-year-old girl, and Shelley himself drowned a few years later when his small yacht, Ariel, capsized off the coast of Tuscany in 1822.

Treating the “Apparently Drowned”

For centuries, drowning has loomed in the popular imagination as a gruesome but often-preventable form of death. Europe and America’s original humane societies, founded in the late 1700s, were chartered not for the humane treatment of animals but for reviving nearly drowned humans – such as London’s Society for the Recovery of Persons Apparently Drowned. It was later renamed the Royal Human Society for the Apparently Dead, to include other types of what was called “sudden death,” such as falls and lightning strikes. The London and Amsterdam societies alone were said to have saved over a thousand lives in a twenty year period. 

Culled from: Last Breath: Cautionary Tales from the Limits of Human Endurance

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 21, 2018

Today’s Unchronicled Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Account of the death of Corporal William Egolf, Company E, 84th New York Infantry, 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 1st Corps, Union Army, during the American Civil War Battle of Gettysburg.

Solomon and Catherine Powers lived on the northeast corner of West High and Washington Streets in Gettysburg with four daughters: Cynthia, Ann Jane, Virginia and Lydia. During the battle they cared for fifteen or sixteen wounded Federal soldiers who were hurt on July 1. Two of those men were a local historian, educator, and former soldier who was a teenager at the time of the battle, knew something of these men and wrote:

There were pathetic scenes, too, at the Powers house during its hospital period, for once and again the dark angel of death hovered over it. Two brothers were amongst the defenders of the flag gathered up by these devoted women – Egolf by name, John and William, members of the brave 14th of Brooklyn, affectionately known through the Army of the Potomac as “Beecher’s Baby Pups” and “the Red-legged Devils of Brooklyn.” 

One was nursed back to life and as the color again mantled his wane cheek, he saw his brother pass into the dark valley by the most awful and dreaded death of all the long catalogue of ills incident to army life, gangrene, which had supervened in his wounded limb with all the tears of hideous pain which the pen refuses to chronicle.

William, aged twenty-three, died on July 18, 1863. We can only surmise the horrible scene that “the pen refuses to chronicle,” as the gangrene accomplished its corruptible work. Before his death, however, Egolf presented a small hymn book to Catharine Sweney who had helped nurse him during those long, hot July days in 1863. It was kept for many years as a cherished memento of the battle.

The heroic Powers sisters

Culled from: Killed In Action: Eyewitness Accounts of the Last Moments of 100 Union Soldiers Who Died at Gettysburg

“Hideous pain which the pen refuses to chronicle” – that is the most Morrissey thing I’ve ever read in a history book!

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 20, 2018

Today’s Rotting Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Perhaps the most absurd psychological delusion – in the Sartre/Camus/existentialist sense of absurd – is Cotard Syndrome, in which victims insist, absolutely swear, that they’ve died. Also known as walking dead syndrome, it usually strikes older women, and often emerges after an accident: they’re convinced that their suicide attempts succeeded, or that they died in the car wrecks that sent them to the hospital. The seemingly blatant fact that they’re sitting there, telling you all this, doesn’t impinge; these are people who can hear Descartes’s cogito ergo sum and say, Not so fast.  Some even claim they can smell their own rotten flesh; a few have tried to cremate themselves. And in some cases, their delusions plumb the very depths of nihilism. As the first doctor to describe the syndrome, Jules Cotard, said: “You ask them their name? They don’t have a name. Their age. They don’t have an age. Where they were born? They were never born.” Neurologists disagree about the explanation for Cotard, although most feel, as with Capgras syndrome (where the afflicted individual is certain that a loved one has been replaced by an imposter), that two parts of the brain must be malfunctioning simultaneously. One theory interprets Cotard as Capgras turned inward: people feel no “glow” about themselves, and that deadness convinces them that they have in fact died, logic be damned. 

Jules Cotard

Culled from: The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons


A Beautiful Poem

I stumbled across this lovely poem while perusing the January 16, 1917 issue of the Chicago Daybook newspaper.  

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 19, 2018

Today’s Overturned Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In 1959, Eric Fleming found success on the television show Rawhide as cattle-trail boss Gil Favor, with Clint Eastwood as his right-hand man, Rowdy Yates. After seven years on the program, Fleming tired of the role and chose to retire to a ranch in Hawaii that he had purchased with his earnings. He quit the program after the 1964-65 season, with Eastwood taking over as trail boss.

Instead of following through right away with his relocation plans, Eric remained in Los Angeles for a movie role (The Glass Bottom Boat with Doris Day, 1966). Then he was a guest on two episodes of Bonanza. Next, ABC persuaded him to tackle the lead in a projected adventure series, High Jungle. He joined the cast members on location in Peru where they were filming scenes in the headwaters of the Amazon River. On September 28, 1966, the cast and crew were in a remote jungle region three hundred miles northeast of Lima. Fleming and the Peruvian actor Nico Minardos were being filmed in a canoe on the Haullaga River when the craft suddenly overturned. Minardos managed to swim to safety, but Fleming was swept away by the strong current. His remains – there were piranha fish in the area – were not found until October 3.

Eric Fleming prepares for his final ride.

Culled from: The Hollywood Book of Death

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 18, 2018

Today’s Failing Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

On May 27, 1955, William McCandless and Wayne Wolfe were driving a loaded Mayflower moving van loaded with furniture through the hilly streets of San Francisco. As they started down the steep Nob Hill on the edge of Chinatown, the huge truck’s brakes failed, and the truck was soon careening out of control.

Wayne Wolfe tried to pull the emergency brake but was unfamiliar with this particular truck and couldn’t find it. McCandless pulled a hand brake, which only controlled the trailer’s brakes. The truck roared on, with the trailer “lashing behind it like the tail of a dragon.” After two blocks, McCandless ordered Wolfe to jump from the truck, which he did. Witnesses assumed McCandless would escape too, but incredibly, he slammed the door shut and stayed behind the wheel, fighting to keep his truck in the middle of the narrow street. He continually pounded on his horn, but it too had failed.

The Valiant Mr. McCandless.

The truck was estimated to be going between 80 and 100 miles per hour as it neared the end of its five-and-a-half block run. Light poles were snapped, cars were crushed, and pedestrians were mowed down or crushed by the other wrecked vehicles. Finally the truck plowed into a storefront, overturned and burst into flames that reached as high as the rooftops.

The trail of destruction.

Six people on the ground were killed and many more were injured. McCandless, 50, from Davenport, Iowa, was also killed, trapped in his burning cab. In the last seconds of his life, he was still desperately trying to bring the truck to a stop and avoid the unavoidable.

Culled from Gendisasters
 Submitted by: Aimee
I have it on good authority that the failing-brakes scenario is the ultimate nightmare of anybody who has ever driven a big rig. And to have his horn fail too must have made McCandless’s situation even more terrifying. – Aimee


Short Story Recommendation

Here’s a short story recommendation from David:

“For fans of the macabre, I recommend Jack London’s short story ‘Moon Face’ (1906), in which the narrator uses a trained dog to blow up a neighbor. It’s probably the first work of fiction (or nonfiction) to feature an exploding dog, and I found its portrait of a deranged mind to be reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Cask of Amontillado’ (which, for better or for worse, did not feature an exploding dog). It’s available online.”

Moon Face

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 17, 2018

Today’s Dark, Cold, Smelly Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

In this story from Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI, our hero Dana gets herself in a difficult position:
“Sooooo, Dana.” Chittenden was peeking around the body. “Just how new are you?” I didn’t want to answer him. “How long have you been with us?” I was silent. “C’mon! Tell us!”
“I’ve been with the department for six whole months.” I was working quickly so that I’d be finished by the time the Medical Examiner arrived.
“How long have you been processing scenes all by yourself?” The tone in Chittenden’s voice sounded suspicious. I didn’t want either of them to know how new I was for fear they’d think I didn’t know what I was doing. He asked again.
“Four days. I was cut loose four days ago.”
“Are you serious?” Chittenden sounded surprised, which  made me feel better. “Is this your first body flying solo?”
I didn’t answer.
“It is, isn’t it?” Chittenden and Caret high-fived each other. “Your first body done solo is with us. We’re honored!”
“Is this your first hanging?” I poked my head around the body and just smiled and shrugged my shoulders.
“You haven’t had one, have you?” They snickered for a minute and then retreated back into the hallway.
I continued about my business taking photos, recording notes, and make a rough sketch. Not long after, the forensic investigator arrived at the scene. I heard Caret and Chittenden talking to him before he entered the apartment. They were all laughing about something.
A few moments later they appeared in the doorway. The forensic investigator was an older heavyset guy with a Fu Manchu mustache. “So, this is your first hanging, eh?”
I shot Chittenden and Caret a look.  “They seem to think so.”
The forensic investigator snapped a few pictures and gathered some information before turning to me. “Why don’t you glove up and hold onto him while I cut him down.” He flipped over the chair that was lying next to the body and climbed on top as I wrapped my arms around the dead guy’s waist. I didn’t like it one bit and he really was beginning to stink, but I wanted to prove that I wasn’t afraid or squeamish and I could do this job.
He cut the leash and I went down faster than the Titanic.
Everything was dark and cold and smelly and I couldn’t move. I felt something wet on my neck. Oh my God, No! Please tell me I’m not pinned under the body!!  I managed to get an arm free and reached up only to feel the wife beater. My worst fears were confirmed! I screamed and kicked. The dead guy was on top of me and was drooling down my neck! I heard the three pranksters somewhere nearby, “Get him off! Get this guy off me!”
I couldn’t get the corpse to budge but managed to cock my head to the side and free it from the dead guy’s furry armpit. “Get him off me now!” My voice resonated throughout the apartment stairwell and I was certain even the junkie in the grass could hear me. The neighbors had to be wondering what the tell was going on. In what seemed like an eternity but was probably only six seconds, the forensic investigator, Chittenden, and Caret rolled the body off me and helped me to my feet.
I ran for the sink and started scrubbing with dish soap.  I had a big wet spot on my shoulder from the dead guys’ dripping mouth and I smelled sour, like an old sock. I was disgusted. That had to have been the grossest thing that could ever happen to me and the smell of my shirt made me dry heave. I scrubbed and scrubbed and heaved again.
They all stood nearby, watching, not quite sure what to say. Finally, Chittenden spoke.  “We’re sorry, Dana, really.” I was silent. “We never thought you’d fall down. We just wanted you to get a good jolt, that’s all.” I didn’t utter a word. “We never intended for you to get trapped under him.”
When I was as clean as I could get, the three misfits scurried about, eagerly helping me gather my equipment. On the way back to the van, all I had to carry was my clipboard. It was their pitiful attempt to make amends. I didn’t say a word.
I sat in my van packaging evidence, trying to decide just how angry I really was. I became infuriated when Caret drove away without offering a final apology, but he returned a few minutes later with Slurpees. He handed me a red one. “Here, on us.”
“On us?” I pointed to the 7-11 logo on the cup. “Nice try. How ‘bout on Seven-Eleven?” I sucked it down until I had a brain freeze. “Thanks.”
I saw the same forensic investigator on a hanging the following week. I told him, ‘Mama didn’t raise no fool, ‘ as I reached for my knife and cut through the rope. This time he held the body.

Culled from: Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand: Curious Adventures of a CSI


Garretdom: Dangerous Blacksmith

October 3, 1886

A Young Jerseyman Murdered.

NEW YORK, Oct. 3.—Brazilla Vanderveer, aged twenty-six years, a native of Red Bank, N.J., but lately living in this city, was brutally murdered to-day by John Hughes, known as the “Dangerous Blacksmith.” Hughes and some friends went into an oyster saloon to get some chowder. Young Vanderveer went into the place and sad down to eat. The roughs refused to pay for their meal and assaulted the cashier, who grappled with his assailant. The cashier was a little man and Vanderveer went to his assistance. Hughes struck him a terrible blow on the forehead, felling him to the floor. Vanderveer was picked up and a physician called. Before he arrived the young man was dead. His skull had been fractured by the blow. Hughes escaped. A general alarm was sent out to all the precincts.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1886 Morbid Scrapbook


Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 16, 2018

Today’s Treasonous Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Tiberius became Roman emperor in AD 14 at the age of 56. At first Tiberius seemed a model ruler, sometimes stern but always fair. This semblance of honor cloaked his debauched private life in which he had sex with women, men, boys, and girls. He was also something of a sadist. If boys spoke out against the sodomy inflicted upon them he had their legs broken.

I would imagine Tiberius killed the sculptor for making his nose so authentic.

His closet adviser was Sejanus, a clever man who safeguarded his own position by undermining the status of others. Sejanus planted, in Tiberius’ mind, the seeds of doubt about the loyalty of eminent figures of the day. A series of denunciations resulted in the deaths of entire families. In some cases children were compelled to kill their parents before being murdered themselves.

Bolstered by his success, Sejanus set-up the arrest and death of Tiberius’ adopted son  and likely successor, Germanicus. After his other son was poisoned, Tiberius was persuaded by Sejanus to move away from Rome and the adviser was Emperor of Rome in all but name.

Sejanus, plotting his next move.

Tiberius was probably insane by this stage – but lucid enough to spot the maneuverings of his lieutenant. From his hideaway he sent a letter condemning the activities of Sejanus to the Senate. On the day it was read aloud to the politicians Sejanus was carted off to jail and strangled. His body was dragged through the streets and left to rot. His skull was later taken to a public baths and used for ball games.

Characteristically, the bloodshed didn’t end there. Livilla, a mistress of Sejanus, was locked in a room by her own mother and starved to death. His children were slaughtered. The slightest whiff of treason was now enough to spark a wave of killing. A paranoid Tiberius ruled for another five years unchallenged. 

Culled from: The History of Punishment and Torture


Arcane Excerpts: Illustrative Case Edition

From his 1908 (reprinted in 1949) book Mental Deficiency, here’s a case study of “Idiocy” from A.F. Tredgold:

E.J. female, aged thirty-two years.  A pronounced history of insanity and epilepsy on the maternal, and alcoholism on the paternal side. Has been in the mental hospital since seven years of age. A repulsive-looking woman, with a muddy, freckled face, coarse red hair, and numerous stigmata; cranial circumference, 21 inches. She can walk, but spends the day sitting in a chair turning her head from side to side, rocking herself to and fro, and biting her hands. She is of unclean habits and unable to do anything for herself. She is quite deaf in the right ear, but listens attentively to the ticking of a watch held close to her left one. She seems to have no knowledge of time or place, and no understanding of anything said to her. But when the piano is played, she at once ceases  her rhythmic movements and listen attentively. She cannot speak, but she will hum the tunes she has heard so accurately that they are readily recognized. As a rule she is harmless, but upon any attempt at examination she makes violent resistance and tries to bite; she is spiteful at times and interferes with the other patients.

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 15, 2018

Today’s Confessed Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

The following is an excerpt from the witch-hunting guidebook Malleus Maleficarum (1486) on how to perform the first stage of torture upon the suspected witch, called the ‘preparatory question’:

First, the gaolers prepare the implements, then they strip the prisoner (if it be a woman, she has already been stripped by other women, upright and of good repute). This stripping is lest some means of witchcraft may have been sewn  into the clothing – such as often, taught by the Devil, they prepare from the bodies of unbaptized infants, that they may forfeit salvation.

And when the implements of torture have been prepared, the judge, both in person and through other good men, zealous in the faith, tries to persuade the prisoner to confess the truth freely; but, if he will not confess, he bids the attendants prepare the prisoner for the strappado or other torture. The attendants obey forthwith, yet with feigned agitation. Then, at the prayer of some of those present, the prisoner is loosed again, and is taken aside and once more begged to confess, being led to believe that he will in that case not be put to death…

But if, neither by threats nor by promises such as these, the witch cannot be induced to speak the truth, then the gaolers must carry out the sentence, and torture the prisoner according to the accepted methods, with more or less severity as the delinquent’s crime may demand.

However, the law allowed torture to be repeated only if new, unconfessed indications of guilt were expected, and so this preliminary stage was often considered not to be torture at all. Many court records contain the phrase ‘the prisoner confessed without torture’. In any case, the lawyers came up with the excuse that further torture was not a repetition, but merely a continuation of the inquiry, designed to make the confessed witch reveal the names of accomplices.For example, in 1597 Clara Geissler, a 69-year-old widow of Gelnhausen in Germany, withstood torture by the thumbscrews, but:

… when her feet were crushed and her body stretched out to greater length, she screamed piteously and said all was true that they demanded of her: she drank the blood of children whom she stole on her night flights, and she had murdered about 60 infants. She named 20 other women who had been with her at the sabbats, and said the wife of a late burgomaster presided over the flights and banquets.

When she was freed from the rack, Clara retracted her confession saying that she had reported rumors spread by other people. Nevertheless, the judges arrested those she had named, and duly tortured them. One woman confessed even worse crimes than Clara had accused her of, so the widow was submitted to torture once more, to force her to admit the truth. But on her release she again denied her confessions, and was put on the rack again. She was tortured ‘with the utmost severity’, and died from the agony: the inquiry concluded ‘the Devil would not let her reveal anything more, and so wrung her neck’.

Culled from: The History of Torture


Wretched Reviews: Beautiful Death

Beautiful Death: Art of the Cemetery
by David Robinson

This is a collection of photographs taken of monuments/headstones in European cemeteries.  That’s pretty much all it is.  There are no  explanations of the photos or information about the different cemeteries;  there is just a strange forward by Dean Koontz that talks about his deceased parents, and an afterword by the photographer, David Robinson, that talks about his discovery of Pere Lachaise, his photographic motivation, and a brief discussion of cemeteries and headstones and what it all means

The images themselves are nice but largely documentary in nature rather than artistic, so it would have been nice to have some information to go with them.  What it amounts to is just a bunch of photos of really cool monuments.  If that’s enough for you, then you’ll enjoy this book; however, if you want any sort of background information on what you’re seeing you, like me, will find it frustrating. 

2/5 – Beautiful but Empty

Morbid Fact Du Jour for February 14, 2018

Today’s Contagious Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Between August and November 1873 Shreveport, Louisiana lost one-quarter of its population (or about 2,500 out of 10,000) to the third greatest epidemic of yellow fever to strike the United States. About half of these died and the other half fled, never to return. Almost all of the roughly 1,200 victims are buried at Oakland Cemetery, 759 of them in a mass grave called the yellow fever mound, in the cemetery’s southwestern quadrant. The number of victims in this mound may be lower than the true figure, since the number was calculated from newspaper accounts which were not completely accurate.

Marker from Oakland Cemetery.

The following is a circa 1935 account of the epidemic by Mrs. Geo. T. Martin, one of Shreveport’s pioneer citizens:
“It was in August of 1873 when the fever began to rage in Shreveport.  Some of
the families moved away temporarily but those of us who could not leave went
through the most horrible time that Shreveport has ever known.
“I was married on Saturday, Sept. 10, 1873.  On the following Monday my
husband was taken sick with the fever and I nursed him until Thursday
following, when I, too, went to bed with chills and fever.  There were at the
time about fifty people dying each day from this disease.  Dr. Dalzell, one of
the finest men our city has ever known, worked night and day among the sick
trying to check the death rate.  What we would have done without him and the
others who helped him, shall never be known.  Businessmen who could not leave
their work died by the score.  A newspaper clipping of one issue of the
Shreveport Times told of the heavy mortality in the business district.  The
business district was bounded by the levee, Crockett, Spring and Milam Streets
on one day, 12 men were listed as having been claimed by the fever.  Their
names were: Nathan Hoss, Willie Elstner, Jr., John Mundy, O.T. Collins, Henry
Prescott, James Hoss, Paph La Cossit (who married my foster sister), Chas. W.
Pomeroy, H.C. Silver, W. W. McCain, T.L. Walker, and a restaurant man.
“Graves were filled as fast as they could be dug.  All during the night horses
could be heard carrying the dead, and the moans and weeping of the bereaved
families swept over the town.  Girls who were well today were dead from the
terrible fever in a week’s time.  My husband was in the upper story of the
house where we were living at the time and I was downstairs.  ‘There were days
when I watched for them to carry up a casket for him, or maybe bring one to
me.  We were so sick, the plans had been made for our burial together.  As
fast as victims died, they were buried without much ceremony to ease the pain
of those left.  When entire families were swept out by the fever, their
clothes and everything in the house was burned.
“I shall never forget the day Whit McKeller died, I could hear him groaning
and crying out in his fever.  Nothing could be done to ease him.  He was in my
Aunt’s house at the time, and I ask Auntie often if he was dying.  She told me
that he was not, but I knew from her tone of voice that she did not mean it.
He died that day after he moaned and called out all day.  It was a fearful

Caring for the sick
“We lived on Spring Street at the time, and at night I could hear the distant
street car, with its strong horses pulling it, as it went down the street.
The fever continued well into the latter part of September and I remember how
joyful every surviving Shreveport was at the time to see cooler weather
approach.  My husband and I survived the sickness, but it was many months
before we were strong.  Nothing before or since has ever come to Shreveport to
leave such a trail of grief and suffering.”

Culled from: US Gen Web Archives and Oakland Cemetery
Generously submitted by: Jason Cole


Arcane Excerpts: Monsters

Here is another excerpt from Dr. John Harvey Kellogg’s (of Corn Flakes fame) 1877 book,Plain Facts for Young and Old.


Monsters. — Defects and abnormalities in the development of the embryon [sic] produce all degrees of deviation from the typical human form. Excessive development may result in an extra finger or toe, or in the production of some peculiar excrescence. Deficiency of development may produce all degrees of abnormality from the simple harelip to the most frightful deficiency, as the absence of a limb, or even of a head. It is in this manner that those unfortunate individuals known as hermaphrodites are formed. An excessive development of some parts of the female generative organs gives them a great degree of similarity to the external organs of the male. A deficient development of the male organs renders them very similar in form to those of the female. Redundant development of the sexual organism sometimes results in the development of both kinds of organs in the same individual in a state more or less complete. Cases have occurred in which it has become necessary, for legal purposes, to decide respecting the sex of an individual suffering from defective development, and it has sometimes been exceedingly difficult to decide in a given case whether the individual was male or female

Such curious cases as the Carolina twins and Chang and Eng were formerly supposed to be the results of the union of two separate individuals. It is now believed that they are developed from a single ovum. It has been observed that the primitive trace… sometimes undergoes partial division longitudinally. If it splits a little at the anterior end, the individual will have a single body with two heads. If a partial division occurs at each end, the resulting being will possess two heads and two pairs of legs joined to a single body. More complete division produces a single trunk with two heads, two pairs of arms, and two pairs of legs, as in the case of the Caroline twins. Still more complete division may result in the formation of two perfect individuals almost entirely independent of each other, physiologically, but united by a narrow band, as in the remarkable Siamese twins, Chang and Eng.

In a curious case reported not a great while ago, a partially developed infant was amputated from the cheek of a child some time after birth.

The precise cause of these strange modifications of development is as yet, in great degree, a mystery.08