Thursday, August 30, 2012

The History of Eloise, Jame Gore's Sick Shed & Joseph Littlejohn's Mad Escape


If you're into the historical side of Eloise then Stanislaus M. Keenan's book History of Eloise is a great starting point. As it was written in 1912 and published a year later it's obviously an incomplete tome but up to that point it was quintessential. Having only casually read the book, scouring for names and facts, I can tell you that it's got quite a few photos of the administrators and buildings but not much in the way of patient or staff histories as is to be expected from a commissioned piece by the county.

Dying of a loathsome disease, James Gore, 63 years old, was taken from a shed on Bates street Sunday, to the city physician's office, from the city physician's office to St. Mary's, back to the city physician's, then to his [illegible] in the shed; finally through the activity of Superintendent of Poor's Downey, he found a resting place at the county house at Eloise.

Citizens found the old man lying on the ground under scant shelter in the rear of the [illegible] on Bates street, a stone's throw from police headquarters, Sunday morning. Motorcycle Patrolman Henry Smith investigated and called Police Surgeon Thomas, who had him taken to the city physician's office in a police ambulance. The city physician on duty advised that he be taken to the hospital, but because of the contagious nature of his disease and the crowded conditions of the hospital, he could not be accommodated. Back over the same route he was taken, and the city physician could do nothing but direct that he be taken to the shed and laid on the ground again.

More than a dozen citizens called at police headquarters during the afternoon to protest against of half a million allowing an old man to suffer in a kennel.

Word was finally sent to Superintendent John J. Downey, who ordered that the sufferer be taken in the auto patrol to the county house at Eloise.

Joseph Littlejohn was an insane asylum patient at Eloise who escaped and nearly found himself lynched in Nashville, Tennessee after a run-in with the locals. His brother William had caught up to him in Cincinnati but he once again slipped the safety net of sanity and ventured south. After word of his escape from death reached Detroit his faithful brother headed back on the road to try and lasso the man with no plan but to get away.

from The Detroit Free Press, February 3, 1906

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