Thursday, May 17, 2012

Shootings, Hauntings and a Teacher-Student Tryst

Lest anyone forget that the history of Eloise wasn't painted with nostalgic romance comes the following stories of mental hardship.

John Bialkowski had spent the summer of 1936 in Eloise after chasing his family about the house with a knife in a fit of anger. Having been released on Labor Day, supposedly cured, the last sinews of sanity held until a week before Thanksgiving when he went on a rampage with a shotgun.

Having argued vehemently with his wife Mary he stormed off to the barn of the residence on 5628 East Seven Mile Road. When he returned he was equipped with a shotgun and a vendetta to shoot his wife. He fired off one round at Mary, who along with 4 of the family's 5 children were in the kitchen, and she ran from the sink where she was washing dishes while daughter Lillian, 15, grappled with her father for the gun, sustaining a bump on the head from the encounter.

Bialkowski then apparently fired a shot at his eldest daughter Mary, 21, missing her while three other siblings escaped unharmed. 18 year old Eleanor jumped out the window and her sister and brother Lillian and John fled as well. Father John then trailed his wife to the bathroom where he fired through the closed door, apparently gravely wounding her.

He then returned to the kitchen and shot himself in the chest. Seriously wounded, he attempted to go to his wife but crumpled to the floor from the effects of his injuries. I haven't been able to track down any information on whether either of the spouses died that day but I did find an age match in a search for Mary and it appears that she just might have survived the shooting.

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You always hear that cases of mental illness are on the rise but the early part of the 1900s seemed a fertile ground for desperate measures by mentally disturbed individuals.

Cassie Holder was an Eloise veteran who had made earlier attempts to physically harm herself but on May 6y, 1905 she pulled a razor across her throat in an attempt to keep the spirits at bay which she believed to be harassing her and calling for her to join them on the other side. An earlier attempt had been thwarted by a daughter who caught her in the act.

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Ms. Lily Burden, a Flint Rock schoolteacher, had an amorous obsession: her love for a young student. The then 15-year-old schoolboy was having academic issues so Burden put him under her own private tutelage and soon thereafter they became intimate with one another.

The affair caused an obvious uproar back in 1909 and she was relieved of her duties. However, the affair persisted and his father claimed that the 17-year-old young man had become temporarily insane from Ms. Burden's insatiable appetite for lovemaking.

He was confined to Eloise for several months and upon his release the tempestuous relations began anew. With this further development the boy's father, Ernest D. Shove, sought and received an injunction against Ms. Burden, thus forbidding any contact with his son.

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