(Revamping the blog. Please excuse the odd headings. Working on it!)

Writing History & Mysteries

When I'm not delving into historical research, I'm planning a character's demise.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for LUNATIC

A lunatic was the term used to describe someone of an "unsound mind" in the 19th century. Polly Frisch's mother, Eliza Franklin would be declared so in 1879. Below is an excerpt from Bread & Butter The Murders of Polly Frisch.

Sadly, on the 1st of May in 1879, Charles Noble filed a petition to have Eliza Franklin declared of unsound mind—in the terms of the day, a lunatic. The youngest daughter, Emily Hayes, had been taking care of Eliza up to this point. Charles named Julia Maybach as Eliza’s guardian. Charles Noble, who was the husband of Schubel’s sister Sarah, was also the executor of Schubel’s estate. Because he handled the estate on behalf of Schubel’s wife Eliza, he felt it necessary to appoint someone on her behalf. Once again an inquest would be held at the Alabama Hotel, now owned by Charles Clark, for a member of the Franklin/Hoag family.

From reading the affidavits of the inquest it did not sound like Eliza was insane, but was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Although they were nearing the turn of the century, and some advances were made in medical science, they still did not know this illness existed.


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  1. It is good that our knowledge of such illness and deterioration of memory has come so far. It is fascinating to journey to the past through surviving documents. Thanks for sharing

  2. the lunatic asylums are much nicer now - i think they're full of writers

  3. Hey! I saw that you'd visited my blog, so I thought I'd stop by and see what you were up to on yours- and I'm glad I did! Good information, well-presented!
    Melanie Atherton Allen

  4. History is always fascinating-- and the history of Alzheimers, doubly so. Thanks for sharing these snippets with us.

    Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2014, My Latest post

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z


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Available in paperback and eBook formats

Available in paperback and eBook formats

Now Available At:

Barnes & Noble
The History Press

Carried by over 20 college/university libraries across the county, according to daily updates by worldcat.org, including Columbia University, Oklahoma State, Texas A & M, and Yale University Law Library.


APRIL 2nd,11-1 PM
The Book Shoppe - Medina, NY

APRIL 16th, 2 PM
Barnes & Noble - Pittsfield, MA

APRIL 19th, 7 PM
Tonawanda Indian Reservation Historical Society,
Tonawanda Indian Community Center- Akron, NY

MAY 14th, 1 PM
Seneca Iroquois National Museum - Salamanca, NY

May 17th, 6 PM Warsaw Public Library - Warsaw, NY

AUG 9TH, 7 pm Hoss's Country Corner -2016 Author's Night- Long Lake, NY

AUG 25TH 6 PM Akwesasne Cultural Center - Hogansburg, NY

More to announce as they are confirmed.

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Bread & Butter the Murders of Polly Frisch

Bread & Butter the Murders of Polly Frisch
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