The Infamous Black Bird Southern Oregon History, Revised

Unpopular Delusions

Came in Safe.
    The man reported in the Tidings last week as having jumped from the stage and run off into the brush while partially demented made his way back to the stage road again after the driver left off pursuit of him, and was brought to town the next day on the stage. He found shelter along the road overnight and did not suffer from exposure. He remained in Ashland one day, and then started for Sacramento. While here he talked in a way which showed that he was still under the hallucination that the stage drivers wanted to kill him.
Ashland Tidings, December 4, 1885, page 3

    AN INSANE MAN.--Jacob Ellis, an old bachelor who has lived alone on his claim on Wagner Creek for [a] number of years, became insane this week, and on Wednesday evening called at G. H. Lynch's place, and told Mr. Lynch that the men at Wagner Creek saw mill were trying to kill him--that they had a machine working underground under his cabin that would kill him. Mr. Lynch allowed him to remain at his house, but just after the household had retired Ellis grew wild, said "they" were after him, and rushed upstairs and out on a roof flourishing a big knife. Two neighbors, Messrs. Pervin and Goddard, were called, and they, with Mr. Lynch, brought Ellis to Ashland in the night, keeping him at the town jail. About daybreak he escaped from them, and, it is supposed, ran off into the mountains back of town. Up to last evening no trace of him had been discovered by parties searching for him, and it is feared he has perished of cold if he remained out over last night.--Tidings.
Oregon Sentinel,
March 20, 1886, page 3

    John Dowes, a bridge carpenter at Medford who was in the city jail with the jim-jams, cut his throat with a pocket knife about 4 o'clock a.m., Saturday. He had lost considerable blood when discovered, and has since been in a critical condition.
"Items from Medford," Valley Record, Ashland, December 3, 1888, page 3

Cut His Throat.
    John J. Dowes, the boss carpenter of the force at work on the bridge across Bear Creek at Medford, attempted suicide on the morning of the 8th inst., after having been arrested on a charge of drunkenness, by cutting his throat with a pocketknife. He was discovered two hours later in a critical condition by the keeper of the lockup and medical assistance saved his life, although he had made three deep cuts in his throat, one penetrating the upper cavity of the windpipe. He had a close call, having lost much blood before he was discovered, and his condition was regarded as dangerous for several days afterwards; but he is now recovering.
Democratic Times, Jacksonville, December 13, 1888, page 3

Adjudged Insane.
Walla Walla Union.
    Mrs. Sarah C. Linder, wife of Henry C. Linder, living near Prescott, was brought before Probate Judge Eagan on Friday evening for examination as to her sanity by Drs. N. G. Blalock and J. E. Bingham, and was adjudged insane. This is a peculiar case, and is classed as one of "mania and dementia." She is only 25 years old, and the mother of two children, the youngest being only two years old. She had her first attack just after the birth of her first child, the spell only lasting a few days. Another attack occurred about six months since, that being also of short duration. But twelve days ago she was seized with persistent mania, which has clung to her ever since. Her husband, who made the complaint, testified that she said she saw and talked with the devil and claims to have witches in her clothes, and also has many other delusions. During a portion of the time her condition was maniacal, she having tried to kill her neighbors and her children; the attacks seem premeditated, though she has no design at suicide. Mrs. Linder, when brought before the physicians told the same story of interviews with the devil, and stated that she had burned her underclothes in an effort to drive out the witches that infested them and the bedclothes to kill the devil. Her demeanor throughout the examination was that of a crazy person, though she displayed no signs of violence. Sheriff McFarland will leave for Steilacoom with her today. Mr. Linder is deserving of sympathy, and it is hoped that his wife will be speedily cured.
Times-Mountaineer, The Dalles, Oregon, October 5, 1889, page 3

A Maniac of Many Years Describes
It---Musing Over Immortality---His Fad To Be the "Radish King."

    I was once insane, and I often muse over my experience. There are of course many kinds of insanity. Some mental disorders take place so gradually that even the closest companions of the victim are at a loss to remember when the trouble began. It must have been this way in my case. One evening, after an oppressively warm day, a day when I experienced more fatigue from the heat than ever before or since, I sat on my porch fanning myself. "This arm that is now in motion," I mused, "must one of these days be dust. I wonder how long will the time be."
    Then I mused upon the evidence I had of immortality. I could do things that other people could not accomplish. I had gone through battle after battle, and though bullets sang and struck around me as thick as hail, yet I remained uninjured. I had passed through epidemics of yellow fever. My idea gained strength as I mused, and I was convinced that I should live forever. No, this cannot be, for death follows all men alike.
    Yes, I am to die like other men, and I believe that it is my duty to make the most of life; to make money and enjoy myself, and to educate my children. I wanted to be rich, and I began to study over an imaginary list of enterprises.
    At last I hit upon radishes. People must have radishes. They should be in every shop. They could be dried and sold in winter. I would plant fifty acres with radish seed, and people all over the country would refer to me as the "radish king." I would form a radish syndicate, and buy up all the radishes and travel and be admired. I hastened to the house to tell my wife that she was soon to be a radish queen. At the breakfast table I said, "Julia, how would you like to be a radish queen?" "A what!" she exclaimed.
    I explained my plan of acquiring great wealth, and during the recital she behaved so curiously that I was alarmed. I feared that she was losing her mind. Finally she seemed to understand. She agreed with me, but told me not to say anything more about it. After breakfast I saw her talking earnestly with her father, and I know that she was explaining to the old gentleman how she intended to pay his debts when I became known as the radish king. The old man approached me with much concern, and told me that I needed rest and that I must not think of business.
    He was old and sadly worried, and I promised him that I would not think of business. Pretty soon I went out to inspect my radish kingdom. Looking round, I saw the old man following me. From the field I went to the village. I approached a friend and I told him how I intended to become rich. He seemed grieved, and I saw at once that he was contemplating the same enterprise. It seemed mean that he should take advantage of me and I told him so. He tried to explain, but he made me so angry that I would have struck him if my father-in-law had not come up and separated us.
    I tried to calm myself, but could not. Those who had been my friends proved to be my enemies, and I was determined to be avenged, but before I could execute my will I was seized by several men. My father-in-law did not attempt to rescue me, and I hated him. I was taken to prison. My wife came to see me, but she did not try to have me released. I demanded a trial, but no lawyer would defend me.
    Then I realized that the entire community was against me. I became so wroth that my anger seemed to hang over me like a dark cloud.  It pressed me to the floor, and held me there. Men came after a long time and took me away, I thought, to another prison. One day a cat came into my cell, and I tried to bite her. She made the hair fly, but I killed her.
    I don't know how long I remained here, but one morning the sun rose and shone in at me through the window. It seemed to be the first time that I had seen the great luminary for months. A mist cleared from before my eyes. My brain began to work, and suddenly I realized that I had been insane. I called the keeper, and when he saw me he exclaimed, "Thank heaven!" and grasped my hand.
    I was not long in putting on another suit of clothes and turning my face toward home. A physician said that I was cured, and everybody seemed bright and happy at my recovery. I went home. My wife fainted when she saw me and learned that I had recovered my mind. I asked for my little children. and two big boys and a young lady came forward and greeted me. I had been in the asylum twelve years.--Pearson's Weekly
Valley Record, Ashland,  January 8, 1891, page 1

    A man in Spokane who has been taken in charge by the authorities imagines that he has a phonograph somewhere inside of him that persists in talking, notwithstanding his efforts to keep it quiet. He became so worried with his futile endeavor that his distress of mind drew the attention of the police. The great trouble with the phonograph is that it talks on its own hook, so that the poor man can't hear himself think. The most remarkable thing in connection with this phonograph business is that the fellow found out he had one. Lots of fellows have phonographs inside of them with Waterbury attachments, but their discovery is almost always made by the fellows who have to listen to them grind.

"City Happenings," Medford Mail, September 7, 1900, page 7

Kingston Lunatic Thinks He's Poached Egg
and Is Looking for Toast to Sit On.

    Kingston, Ont., Oct. 27.--Kingston can boast of a good many things of which it is proud, but the latest [boast] it can make is a little bit eccentric. Of all the crazy men with queer delusions there is none to compare with that of an individual who is confined in the insane asylum in this city. He thinks he is a poached egg, and for twenty years he has been looking for a piece of toast big enough to sit down on. When visitors come and meet him he always approaches them with the request for a moment's conversation in private. As he is perfectly harmless the keepers do not put any restrictions upon him. If you grant his request he whispers in your ear:
    "Have you got a piece of toast about you?"
    "No," you say. "What is the matter with you? Are you hungry?"
    "Hungry!" ejaculates the man. "Why should I be hungry? I get plenty to eat. I'm tired. I'm a poached egg and I'm looking for a piece of toast to sit on."
    Naturally this request leads to laughter, and the poached egg retires in high dudgeon, but he comes back regularly on the arrival of the next batch of visitors to see if he can't have better luck. All sorts of things which look like toast have been supplied to the man, but he wants the real thing, and as chairs and couches are not made out of toasted bread he is obliged to go on making his perpetual plea to visitors. In all other respects the man seems normal, and if this crazy idea could only be got out of his head he might obtain his discharge. As he persists in his delusion, he will probably spend the rest of his days in the asylum.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, November 4, 1900, page 7.  This is most likely a hoax; the same story was told of other asylums.

Mother and Daughter Are Seized with Strange Delusions

    Chicago, August 28.--Dominated by the same delusion haunted by the same fear of unknown enemies, inseparable even in their mental weakness as they had been for years, Mrs. Anna Olovitch and her daughter Ada have been committed to Dunning by Judge Wheatley and a jury in the insane court at the detention hospital. Mrs. Anna Olovitch is 50 years old; her daughter is 20. They are Russian Jews. The girl was born in England, and the father has been dead many years.
    The daughter became seized with the delusion that some unknown enemy was endeavoring to suffocate her by blowing a deadly powder through keyholes and crevices under doors and windows. The mother sought medical aid and worried herself until she was seized with the same delusion.
Morning Astorian, Astoria, Oregon, August 29, 1903, page 1

    H. H. Alderman and Emmett Quick, deputies, yesterday brought Amos P. Spaulding, a native of Iowa, aged 55 years, to the insane asylum from Tillamook County. The only evidence that he shows of insanity, according to the commitment papers, is that he feels very rich; wants to buy everything he sees, such as buggies, sawmills, etc. He is also a long-distance pedestrian and a speedy one, too, claiming to have traveled to China and back in one night and on foot.
Oregon Statesman, Salem, October 3, 1903, page 5

Crank at White House.
    Washington, Nov. 2.--Edward S. Tanner, 33 years of age, a native of Switzerland and a crank, tried to see the President today, but he did not get far beyond the doors of the executive office before his condition was discovered. He was taken to the police headquarters, and later to St. Elizabeth Insane Asylum. His delusion was that he was being pursued by airships. He thought the President would make them stop bothering him. Tanner said he had a wife in Memphis, Tennessee.
Newberg Graphic, Newberg, Oregon, November 6, 1903, page 2

Last revised July 23, 2021