#52 Ancestors Week 44 - "Frightening"

Once during a very difficult time in my life my paternal grandmother spoke to me from the beyond.  I was going through an acrimonious divorce and was (justifiably) angry. I had been swearing like a longshoreman, not my normal self at all. The stress of dealing with the life altering events I was experiencing gave me terrible insomnia, so I was always sleep deprived. It was about 3:00 in the morning and I was waking from a bad dream. Clear as a bell, and in her distinctive voice I heard a deadpan "Boo." I bolted upright in bed. "Dearie, you have to stop with the potty mouth!," says Grandma. It was so clear! I was scared at first, thinking that I'd gone completely bonkers. Then I started laughing out loud. It was comforting somehow. My aunt (her daughter) says it was definitely her spirit communicating with me. That would have been her best advice from the grave. Hilarious!



James Veitch Asylum Record
I found some frightening documentation the other night. Trying to make sense of the Veitch branch of my family tree, I got caught up with a particular 5th great uncle and his family. James Veitch (1783 - 1835) was the brother of my 4th great grandmother Alison Veitch Park. I wrote about her and my 4th great grandfather, Alexander Park here. I became very interested in his son, my 1st cousin 5 times removed, James Henry William Veitch (1825 - 1892). It appears as though he had some mental health issues towards the end of his life. He was born in Devon, England on September 1, 1825. In 1850 he was a surgeon practising in London, England. He and fiancée Anne Morrison (1828 -1892) emigrated to Melbourne, Australia where they married on January 14, 1853. They had 8 children (6 reaching the age of maturity).

Signs point to something going wrong when James Henry William Veitch was in his late 50's. On August 14, 1885 there was a notice in the Victoria, Australia Police Gazette that he was officially reinstated as a qualified medical practitioner. At age 66 he was committed to a mental asylum suffering from delusions. Here is a transcript of the reason for his committal given by his son Alfred Veitch:

"Imagines he has unlimited means. Will give the unemployed £100 each. Will sail for England immediately. That this is a coffee palace." (A Coffee Palace was as term used to describe a large and elaborate hotel  built in Australia during the boom years of the 1880s that did not serve alcohol.)
Kew Asylum, Melbourne, Australia
His time in the asylum was brief. He was admitted on July 21, 1892 and passed away on November 21, 1892.  The Kew Asylum in Melbourne functioned as a place of detention, not a place to receive treatment. There is a book written in 1900 by Dr. Paul Ward Farmer titled "Three Weeks in the Kew Lunatic Asylum". Click here to read a digitized version of it. Dr. Farmer was taken against his will and forced to spend three weeks there, as the title suggests. In one paragraph he describes a stomach pump tube that was used on patients who refused food. In James's asylum record, it appears that he had to undergo this treatment. He was just 67 years old when he passed away.

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