Saturday, June 23, 2018

Are You Lonesome, Tonight?

Detroit Free Press, July 31, 1939
Are you lonesome, tonight? Charles Muller was so he escaped Eloise and was suspected to be heading back home to Detroit and his former home at 1625 Putnam.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Lack of Facilities at Eloise Assailed

Detroit Free Press, April 21, 1939
I never thought of the music therapy program at Eloise in a negative light until I read this article. Wherein Mrs. Ruby Zahn of the Progressive Civic League bemoans Eloise's lack of occupational therapy while praising Ypsilanti for theirs. Her contention that charges at Eloise needed music as medicine instead of as enjoyment showcased how dismal the conditions must have been and more or less called the institution a prison. Egads! It didn't even have a loom! Which was a great point if they were living in the 1850s though not such an apt example for 1939. But she was right that you can't keep mental patients cooped up with nothing to do but while away the hours. Zahn's group had done their share to provide resources for the hospital by donating instruments, games and books for patient use.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Life & Death of Banjo Joe

Detroit Free Press, April 6, 1876
I've already gone over the train death of Banjo Joe on the Facebook page but since that is merely the rough draft tableau for this blog I dug further before cataloging Mr. Sweeney. The Freep oft referred to him as an "antiquated darkey" who was known to have one of his "spells" where he played horrible banjo music and caused other assorted mischief before being carted off to jail for a month or three. While I can't properly ascertain whether the real estate story is in fact Banjo Joe it does fit his personality save for the fact that he was carrying an almanac instead of a musical instrument when arrested. But dammit an almanac can sing, too, if chosen and administered properly! If it is indeed him then it might lead to further avenues East where a younger Joe possibly raised the hackles of the police hither and yon. Or would that be Canada proper? It's all the same murky trail with these posterity searches.

Detroit Free Press, January 21, 1870

Very few people in Detroit that have not  sometime or other came in contact with "Banjo Joe," an antiquated darkey, who always went about in company with a banjo nearly as large as himself, and on which he dealt out free music of the most startling character possible. Often in the midst of the darkest night, the police have been startles not a little to hear the "jerks" of that banjo suddenly ring out around some corner, and no amount of talking could ever convince its owner that he hadn't a "mishun" to wander about the streets of Detroit and sound his doleful wails. Wednesday night, hearing the banjo suddenly break out upon the stillness of Atwater Street, Office Thompson gathered old Joe in, and from the Central Station he was further gathered by a sentence of six months in the House of Corrections, which he took as a far worse "note" than his trusty old strings had ever given.

Detroit Free Press, December 31, 1870

Yesterday morning an antiquated darkey, known as "Banjo Joe," got on one of his "spells" at the City Hall, and an officer undertook to take him to the Station. Joe sat down and refused to go, when he was taken by his pedals and "snaked" along. He found, on arriving at the Station, that the voyage had taken off a piece of his clothing a foot square, and that he had a bushel of snow in each pant leg, but he declared he couldn't be taken along in any other way after this, "on account of de spicy sensashun."

Detroit Free Press, January 6, 1874

When they charge Joseph Sweeney with being a vagrant a broad smile covers his face and meets behind his ears, and he puts on a look of sarcasm and contempt--just such a look as a man wears when his country relations arrive and he says he is glad to see them and hopes they will stay all winter. He a vagrant! Snakes and sneezes! Why, he is here from the East for the purpose of purchasing real estate! He blandly tells this to the court, and the court blandly replies:

"Mr. Sweeney, are you telling the whole truth?"

"Yes, and more too," says Mr. Sweeney, eagerly.

"I thought so, and you can consider yourself elevated for ninety days."

The capital which Sweeney had to purchase real estate consisted of two boiled eggs, a herring, a plug of tobacco, a clay pipe and an almanac, and he had lodged in a horse barn for six successive nights.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Inaugurating the United States Postal Service Postcard

If you know what a first day cover is then this is a fairly boring example of one. If not and you want an Eloise keepsake then these or a postcard are your best bet because relics from there are rare and difficult to locate.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Eloise Escapee Beats His Wife and Daughter

Detroit Free Press, September 22, 1943
George Kovax was at Eloise missing his family so he decided to pay them a visit. Having escaped he made his way home. There he asked his daughter for a dime. She gave him 50 cents and recommended that he get back to the asylum. He thought otherwise and went to the basement to retrieve a hammer and beat his daughter and wife with it. Obviously, he wasn't cured. 

Monday, June 18, 2018

Couple Sought After Sending Weird Missive; End Lives By Monoxide

Detroit Free Press, February 17, 1940
Mr. Robert and Mrs. Emelia Taylor wrote their death wishes and disappeared. Well, they actually waited until Mrs. Taylor's sister received her letter and visited them then they went AWOL. Complicating the troubling matter was that Mrs. Taylor had some mental issues and spent a year and a half at Eloise, having been released the previous December. Friends and family became concerned and called the police. After finding the couple's vehicle missing a 3 day search commenced.

Detroit Free Press, February 18, 1940
Their car, a 1930 Model A Ford Tudor with 1939 Michigan license plate X 72-179, became the focus for police agencies which scoured the area for the couple.

Detroit Free Press, February 19, 1940
The search ended in a barn on Merriman Road between Plymouth and Chicago Roads where the couple had placed a hose on the exhaust and funneled the carbon monoxide into the running vehicle.

Detroit Free Press, February 20, 1940

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Man Found Near Delaware Park

Buffalo Evening News, June 7, 1905 (enlarge)
Well, persistence and luck lead me back to this story which I originally found in November of 2011. Searching today for Holstein cows at Eloise returned a few entries for old John Holstein or George Gibbs or George Gilbs or John Holston. All the same person. Except in my previous searches nothing turned up for Holston. Now I have his photo! As for the story, it's one of the better ones to grace the Eloise timeline. Here's the synopsis from my original inquiry into the man:

"A man found incapacitated in a Buffalo, New York ravine in 1905 identified himself to police as John Holstein from Cincinnati. The problem arose when police investigated his claim, nobody in the part of Cincinnati where he came from knew who he was. That's when they began to theorize that he might not be who he said he was. Due to his condition they suspected that he might be confused or stricken with amnesia.

Though the police were confounded by the circumstances surrounding Holstein, the man himself was certain exactly who he was, John Holstein, and seemed more bewildered by the fact that it was June and not September, as it had been when he departed Cincinnati.

The Buffalo Enquirer, June 7, 1905
Compounding the matter was word from Eloise that he had worked there several months as a baker known as George Gibbs. Having been at Mercy hospital in Detroit for 5 weeks previous in a semi-coma he was sent to Eloise where he stayed a few months before being discharged of sound mind with $50 for services rendered. From there he ventured off to Cincinnati and eventually to Buffalo.

There, a similar scenario played out where he was found unconscious in a park. He said that he was John Holstein, a mechanical draftsman from Brooklyn.

Also, a woman from Toronto claimed that he was her husband and contacted the Wayne County Hospital. After being sent a picture of Gibbs-Holstein by Dr. Marker at Eloise she never responded. Marker was of the opinion that Holstein-Gibbs was simply trying to hide his identity."

*     *      *

Buffalo Evening News, June 5, 1905
Fast forward back to today and two articles found in the Buffalo Evening News from June, 1905. In the other article from the 5th it states that he was positively identified by people back in Detroit as George Gibbs. Except...that they knew him only by his face. More proof came in the form of torn out pages of a Detroit Bakery and Confectionery Workers Union handbook all containing the name George Gibbs and the initials G.G. were found on the neckband of his shirt when he was taken to the hospital. Or did this fall in line with Dr. Marker's supposition that he was simply concealing his identity and he merely hijacked the moniker George Gibbs?

The following articles are more documented proof of Holstein-Gibbs adventures in 1905 but unfortunately his trail grows cold after his escape from the Buffalo State Hospital in September of that year.

The Buffalo Enquirer, June 8, 1905 (enlarge)
Buffalo Evening News, June 13, 1905
The Buffalo Commercial, September 27, 1905