Category: Pestilence!

A Puzzle For Scientists

Posted by – December 29, 2015

December 12, 1886



A Man and Boy who Bark and Bite Without Any Apparent Cause.

CHICAGO, Dec. 12.–About two weeks ago Harry Gibson, a hotel bell-boy, was taken to the insane department of the county jail suffering from a malady which seemed at times to resemble hydrophobia. It cannot be ascertained that young Gibson was ever bitten by a dog, either rabid or otherwise, yet he snapped his teeth and growled at people, frothed at the mouth, and in every way gave evidence of suffering from rabies. It was at first supposed that his malady was brought on from a serious injury he received from falling and striking his head on an iron staircase. A new and mysterious phase of the case has developed, and is worrying the physicians. Before Gibson’s removal to the jail he was cared for at the hotel, and a porter named John Heilland was detailed to watch him. He would argue with the attendant in a most rational manner, saying there was no necessity for his being watched, but the moment the attendant turned his back Gibson would leap upon him and endeavor to bite him.

After Gibson’s removal Heilland was relieved from the duty of caring for the patient. He went to his room, and spent the next forenoon in sleep. When he went to work he complained to his fellow-porters of feeling ill, but thought nothing serious of it. The day following, however, he was attacked with the same symptoms manifested by young Gibson, and became violently mad and unmanageable. He frothed at the mouth and acted like a person having hydrophobia, though at times he was perfectly rational. He declares he was not bitten by Gibson, and had not been bitten by a dog. The attacks recur at regular intervals each day. The cases will be thoroughly investigated.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1886 Morbid Scrapbook

I tried finding a follow-up article about this case but couldn’t.  If anyone out there can track this one down to find out that they probably both died of rabies, I will send you a special morbid gift.

The Grim Reaper’s Relentless Work

Posted by – December 27, 2015

December 12, 1887

The Grim Reaper’s Relentless Work.


MOUNT CARMEL, Pa., Dec. 12.–Singular fatality has for the past few months followed the family of Daniel Wertman, residing at Derrs, Columbia county. A few months ago Mrs. Wertman died, and a short time afterward her husband succumbed to the shock. The daughter, Minnie, aged twenty, was taken ill while attending her father’s funeral and died four days later, and yesterday the physicians gave up all hope of the recovery of the son, Freeman, aged twenty-one, who had been prostrated by the sudden taking away of his father, mother and sister.

From the Collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1887 Morbid Scrapbook


Posted by – December 16, 2014

Chico Courant (Chico, California)
Saturday, November 25, 1865


DIED. – Far away from home, relatives and friends among strangers, with no one to shed a parting tear, with strangers to smooth his dying pillow, another unfortunate Californian passed on to the silent land, the land of forgetfulness, the land of the departed.  Joseph Coburn, a private in Company II, Ninth U.S. Regular Infantry, on the march to Summit Lake, was taken sick, was left at the Chico Hotel in this place, being unable to proceed farther; received all the care and attention that could be bestowed; lingered until Friday night, the 18th inst., when he died.  He was about 22 year old, enlisted in San Francisco about one year ago; not being in his right mind the most of the time, his native place could not be learned, but from expressions made use of in his wandering moods, it is supposed he was a native of New York, residing in the vicinity of Niagara Falls.  An anxious waiting mother, there may be, who for years will listen for the returning footsteps of the absent boy, little dreaming that he sleeps the long sleep of death in the Valley of the Sacramento.  There may be sisters and brothers who will gather around the old hearthstone at home, and when the storm beats without, and the tempest howls around the old homestead, wonder where the absent one is, and why he does not return.  the storms may beat around his dwelling and he heeds them not; heat and cold, summer and winter are all the same to him now.  When one dies thus alone in a strange land and among strangers, we think of the many notices which appear almost daily of “INFORMATION WANTED,” some friend inquiring for the lost one.  How many have laid down to die on hill and plain, mountain and valley, gulch and ravine, all over the Pacific Coast with nothing to mark the spot where they sleep, and not a word concerning their fate ever transmitted to relatives or friends.  What waifs we are, floating on the ocean of time, engulfed to-day and forgotten to-morrow.

From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair

Were Buried At Sea

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – January 27, 1886



Captain, Chief Officer and Two Others of the Marcia Dead of Yellow Fever.

NEW YORK, Jan. 27.-The steamer Marcia, from Brazilian ports, which arrived at Quarantine yesterday, reports that on November 30 Alexander McDonnell, aged thirty years, a native of England, who was employed as a fireman on the steamer, was taken sick with yellow fever and died the same day. Captain Metcalf, forty-five years old, who was in command of the steamer, was taken down with the same disease on December 9, and died after an illness of three days’ duration. He was a native of Shields, England. The bodies of both Captain Metcalf and Fireman McDonnell were buried at sea off Santos.

On December 16, John Anderson, thirty-five years of age, the engineer of the Marcia, was attacked by the disease and died. He also was buried at sea. On the 13th Captain Andrew Smith, who was previously chief officer of the steamer, developed symptoms of the fever. He died December 17. Since leaving Victoria, Brazil, there has been no sickness on the steamer, but she will be detained at Quarantine.


Raided From The Tombs Of Alf

Was Walt Whitman’s Nephew

Posted by – November 17, 2013

February 1, 1892



He Died In the Bucks County Almshouse After a Life of Dissipation.

Special Dispatch to The North American.

DOYLESTOWN, Pa., Feb. 1.—James Whitman, a nephew of the famous poet of Camden, Walt Whitman, died at the Bucks county Almshouse on Saturday morning. For some time he had been laboring on a stock farm in the country, having left his luxurious home several years ago and led a life of dissipation. Becoming afflictd with a chronic and incurable diseases [sic] he entered the County Hospital. Not until he was assured death was near at hand did he reveal his identity. After his death his brother in Camden, N. J., was communicated with, who directed that his remains be sent to Camden.

As Undertaker Howard W. Atkinson was having the corpse brought to his residence in Doylestown previous to taking them to Camden, the horse attached to the dead wagon took fright, upset and wrecked the wagon, threw out the ice-box containing the corpse, breaking the box, but the corpse escaped mutilation. The remains were afterwards conveyed to Camden for interment in Evergreen Cemetery.


From the collection of The Comtesse DeSpair
The 1892 Morbid Scrapbook

Stared At By The Dead

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – 1886




Alone, Unattended, Desolate—An Experience Possible to So Many Others.

Early one morning recently the guards on the elevated road in New York noticed a middle-aged man apparently kneeling beside an open window. Although it was a raw and cold morning, his head was uncovered. His eyes seemed to be staring intently across the street. All day long, as the trains thundered past, the man seemed still to be watching, and even when night came on a glimpse of a white face could be seen staring out into the darkness. The next morning the guards were all on the lookout, and still the man could be seen with his chin resting on the back of his hand.

Coroner Doulin, who chanced to be looking out of the car window during the day, saw at once that it was no common face that glared at him. He left the train, went to the house, and there found kneeling by the window the stiffened corpse of a man. For two days he had kept the vigil of the dead. Awaking in the night, alone and oppressed, he had struggled to the window, and gasping for breath died. The Coroner’s examination revealed the fact that death had been caused by Bright’s disease of the kidneys, which came unannounced, sudden and sure.


Raided From The Tombs Of Alf

Fasting Proved A Deadly Cure

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – January 4, 1886



PATTERSON, N. J., Jan. 4.—Word was received here this morning that Dennis Quigley, the faster, whose case was made public some time ago and who had taken no nourishment, save a cup of tea occasionally, for four months, died on Saturday at the Home for Incurables at Ridgewood, to which he was taken a short time ago from the Patterson Almshouse. Quigley suffered from paralysis of the stomach. He believed that he would recover his health by fasting.


Snatched From A Paralyzed Alf

Death Of Victor Hugo

Posted by – November 17, 2013

Steele Scrapbook – May 22, 1885


PARIS, May 22.–Victor Hugo died at 1:30. The Ministry will request the Chamber of Deputies to adjourn as a token of respect to the memory of the deceased.

It is reported that M. Hugo bequeathed his manuscripts to France and that he left it to the Republic to select a place for his remains, and to decide as to the form of his funeral.

Victor Hugo’s condition was so manifestly worse this morning that his death was regarded as certain to take place within a few hours. When this fact became known Cardinal Guibert, the Archbishop of Paris, sent specially to Hugo’s residence, offering to visit him and administer spiritual aid and the rites of the Catholic Church.

M. Lockroy, the poet’s son-in-law, who was in attendance at the death-bed when the Cardinal’s proffer came, replied for Hugo, declining with thanks the Archbishop’s tender, and saying for the dying man, “Victor Hugo is expecting death, but he does not desire the services of a priest.”


Raided From The Tombs Of Alf