Sensitive Subject – Insanity in Williams Co, OH
By Pamela Pattison Lash
In my small circle of genealogy friends, I know of at least four researchers who have someone in their family who had suffered from a mental affliction. Each would like to know more about the circumstances of their ancestor; some have been lucky to have the family member living in a county where the records are available for viewing but some have not. It’s really become a joke when the researcher goes to the depository of records and has to ask questions of the record custodian who is looking at the record, could care less, and displays that attitude of “why-do-you-want-to-know” or “some-things-are not-for-your-eyes”. Oh, by the way, the record could be between 100-150 years old. This, in my opinion, is ridiculous, but the political entity remains unmoved so as a researcher one may have to consult other records that are unsealed and available. That’s where old newspapers can be a gold mine.
I stumbled upon the following newspaper while looking for something else, became intrigued, and did a little digging. I’ll start with this newspaper article.
Bryan Democrat, 2 Oct 1908 p1
Miss Elnora Ream of Center Twp was adjudged insane by Probate Judge Frazier Tuesday and she was taken to the state hospital for the insane this week. Miss Ream is very violent at times and when in this condition threatens to take her own life and also kill others. She is 20 years old, a daughter of Henry Ream. EA Keiser and Jacob U Schnetzler (physician and surgeon) signed the physicians’ certificate. This is the third insanity case in the past week and there are several more afflicted persons who will be brought into court within the next few weeks.
My thoughts on the article
1. Poor Elnora – only 20 – doesn’t it sound like depression not insanity?
2. Poor family who would have obviously been embarrassed by that article on the front page!
3. Did I mention poor Elnora – she’s a person not an object. I wonder if this behavior suddenly manifested or had been dealt with for years and the family lost its patience/coping skills.
4. Good luck on getting the political entity to open up that record! Well maybe someone has more info…………….
First I checked the Williams County, Ohio Probate Index and found Elnora Ream, 2 Sept 1908, case #5110 misc. That misc usually translates to some sort of “sealed” case (see above).
Next I thought perhaps someone might have posted data on the Ream family at Rootsweb or Ancestry. There are several who have but in all cases they leave poor Elnora almost blank, as if she didn’t have a life. To be fair, they probably didn't know about the newspaper article and/or didn't look for any probate. I checked Familysearch for more records and found some, many of which have conflicting dates from those discovered on Rootsweb or Ancestry (no surprise). Then I used the census to help fill in a timeline of the family. I was lucky to discover an obituary for Elnora’s father and a biographical sketch of that family online. Taking the above-mentioned article, I found much more about Elnora and her family.
Henry Ream, the son of George and Frances Dice Ream, was born on 2 Feb 1841/42, Canton, Stark Co, OH; he died on 15 Dec 1922, Van Wert, Van Wert Co, OH and was buried in Paulding Co, OH. He first married Jane Strock on 15 Feb 1863 in Hancock Co, OH. Jane Strock was born in New Stark, Hancock Co, OH on 18 Jan 1846 and died in Hardin Co, OH on 29 Nov 1872, leaving children Esther (16 Jan 1867-4 July 1962), Nettie Belle (2 July 1868-4 Apr 1904), and Sheridan Philip (26 July 1872-1933), plus two children, PC (male, 12 June 1870-1871) and Abraham (31 Mar 1872-1872), preceding her death. I wonder if she died as the result of childbirth complications.
(Note that Nettie was born on 2 July 1868 and several online researchers have her brother Sheridan born on 26 July 1868; she was born in Paulding and he was supposedly born in Ada, OH 24 days apart.)
Henry next married Martha Ann Hosler on 27 June 1877 in Hardin Co, OH. Martha Ann, the daughter of Alexander and Maria Anna Faller/Faylor Hosler, was born on 16 Nov 1851, Oakwood, Paulding Co, OH; she died on 20 Jan 1913, Paulding, Paulding Co, OH.
Their children were as follows:
1. Bertha Irene, 19 Sept 1880 Paulding Co, OH – 27 May 1962, Paulding Co, OH; m1 – Bushong; m2 – John Augustus, 25 Aug 1903, Paulding Co, OH
2. George Alexander, 2 Aug 1882, Paulding Co, OH – 13 Jan 1950, Paulding Co, OH; m Tressie Franklin, 19 Apr 1906, Williams Co, OH
3. Levi Henry, 3/17 Oct 1884, Paulding Co, OH – 27 Nov 1934 Paulding Co, OH; m Arvada H Aschliman, 16 June 1905, Paulding Co, OH
4. Elva Ann, 19 Oct 1885, Paulding Co, OH – 13 Nov 1946, Van Wert Co, OH; m John Stittsworth, 17 Oct 1908, Williams Co, OH; had daughter Elsie Ream born 23 Jan 1905, Paulding Co, OH
5. Chloe Elnora 19 Oct 1888, Paulding Co, OH – bet 1922 and 1946, pos Toledo, Lucas Co, OH
6. Florence Ermine 9 Aug 1891, Paulding Co, OH – 31 Aug 1892, Paulding Co, OH
1860 Van Buren, Hancock, Ohio; Roll: M653_982; Page: 189; Image: 383; Family History Library Film: 803982.
Ream, Henry 18 OH with parents – George and Fanny
From two sources one learns that Henry was a carpenter and later a brick maker. He served in the Civil War as a private in Co F 21st OVI and Engineer Corps. He took part in 22 battles and as the result of a war injury Henry lost his sight in his right eye.
Combination 1880 History and 1895 Atlas, Putnam Co, OH, HH Hardestry.
The Twice-A-Week Bulletin, Van Wert Co, OH, 29 Dec 1922.
1870 Liberty, Hardin, Ohio; Roll: M593_1219; Page: 423B; Image: 231; Family History Library Film: 552718.
Ream, Henry 29 OH
Jane A 23 OH
Esther 3 OH
N E 1 (f) OH
1880 Paulding, Paulding, OH; Roll 1056; Family History Film: 1255056; Page 618D; Enumeration District: 129; Image: 0740
h/h 31/31 Ream, Henry 38 OH-OH-OH farmer
Martha 28 wife OH-OH-OH
Sheridon 8 son OH-OH-OH
(Note the daughters Esther and Nettie are missing.)
1900 Paulding, Paulding, Ohio; Roll: T623_1312; Page: 8A; Enumeration District: 56.
h/h 161/162 Ream, Henry (Feb 1842) 58 mar 21Y OH-OH-OH (son of George)
Martha A (Nov 1851) 48 wife OH-OH-OH 7/5 ch
Bushong, Bertha dau (Apr 1880) 19 mar 1Y 0/0 ch OH-OH-OH
Ream, George A son (Aug 1882) 17 OH-OH-OH
Levi H son (Oct 1884) 15 OH-OH-OH
Elva A dau (Oct 1886) 13 OH-OH-OH
Chlora E dau (Sept 1888) 11 OH-OH-OH
In October 1908 Elnora aka Chloe Elnora Ream was institutionalized at the Toledo State Asylum. It would appear that she was later released and lived with her family in 1910.
1910 Center, Williams, Ohio; Roll: T624_1241; Page: 7B; Enumeration District: 119; Image: 656.
h/h 147/156 Ream, Henry 68 m2x 32Y OH-OH-OH farmer
Martha A wife 58 mar 1x 32Y 7/7ch OH-OH-OH
Chloe E dau 21 single OH-OH-OH
Elsie E 5 granddaughter OH-OH-OH
Hosler, Alexander 86 father-in-law widower OH-PA-PA
Sometime between 1910-1920 Chloe Elnora Ream was sent back to the Toledo State Hospital. Her mother died on 20 Jan 1913 so perhaps that is when Chloe was returned to the hospital.
1920 Toledo Ward 13, Lucas, Ohio; Roll: T625_1410: Page: 19A; Enumeration District: 139; Image 154
Toledo State Hospital: Ream, Elnora 31 OH-OH-OH single, patient
Her father died on 15 Dec 1922 and Elnora was listed as “Miss Elnora Ream of Toledo” in his obituary. Elnora’s brother Sheridan died on 29 July 1933 and there was no mention of Elnora in his obituary, but none of the other living children from Henry Ream’s second marriage were listed either. Elnora’s sister Elva Stittsworth died on 13 Nov 1946; an online obituary does not mention Elnora. More research needs to be done to pinpoint Elnora’s death date.