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Hartselle Enquirer

A look back at mental illness

There is better understanding of both mental illness and mental patients than there was many years ago.  All of the following stories published in newspapers many years ago relate to persons and their relatives who are long since deceased.  They should give a hint as to how mental was understand (or misunderstood) in years past.

Aug. 23, 1892–One Adams, of Corinth, Miss., has been in the city looking for his wife, who, it is said, came here last Saturday from her home after leaving there under some peculiar circumstances.  Mr. Adams is connected with a machine company at Corinth and was away from home last week traveling in Arkansas, when Mrs. Adams cashed an insurance policy, retaining $1,000 and left home for Decatur, where her baggage was delivered the same day and where she has not been seen since.  It is thought now that she left on the same train for Roanoke.  No suspicion of character whatever rests against the lady, but she is thought to be insane.

April 4, 1899–A Pitiful Sight:  A mother coming to Scottsboro with four idiotic boys was one of the most pitiful sights ever seen in this town. Mrs. E. C. Odell, a widow living on Sand Mountain near Ider, a woman with an unusually intelligent face, brought four boys ranging in years from 18 to 9, her sons, and all idiots, to town.  She came to get the county commissioners, who were in session here, to aid her, or make some provision for them.  She is the mother of 12 living children.  The other eight are said to be as bright and smart as can be.  The four idiotic boys were dressed in long linsey dresses.  They wore neither hats nor shoes, and altogether presented a sight that enlisted sympathy from all who witnessed it.

Sept. 11, 1908–R. H. Roberts, living in New Decatur, this afternoon took four ounces of laudanum with suicidal intent.  When it was discovered he was hurried to his home (no emergency rooms) and physicians summoned.  Very little hope is held out for his recovery.  Mr. Roberts has a wife and one child and is a member of one of the prominent families of Limestone and Madison counties.

March 16, 1911—In the case of the United States vs. a number of barrels and kegs of Coca-Cola, being heard in the federal court in Chattanooga, a professor of medicine at Vanderbilt University said he knew of 30-40 cases where people have become addicted to the Coca-Cola habit.  He said they suffered from nervousness, sleeplessness and indigestion.  He declared that the whiskey habit was easier to break than the Coca-Cola habit.  Dr. James T. Searcy, general superintendent of the insane asylum in Alabama, stated that there has been a big increase in insane patients in Alabama and that Coca-Cola is largely used in his state.

May 30, 1911–Tom Evans, Jr., the son of Tom Evans, a wealthy resident of Falkville community who took his own life last Saturday night was carried to the hospital for the insane in Tuscaloosa today.  It will be remembered that both father and son were indicted for the murder of Roddy Posey, a young white man, said to be the only son of a widowed mother.

Feb. 28, 1916–Trial of the famous Tibbetts murder case began this morning in Morgan County law and equity Court.  Mr. Tibbetts is charged with killing W. A. Handly, chief electrician of the Louisville & Nashville railroad, in November.  Trial of the case was begun last month, but the strain of sensational testimony so unnerved one juror that a mistrial was declared and the jury discharged.  The juror, Luther Blevins of Hartselle, went temporarily insane.