29 July 2009

It is a very tragic story, with a bitter-sweet end

Rhoda was the youngest daughter of Jacob and Rachel (Bright) Derry. She was committed to a "Poor Farm". Then also known as "Almshouses." A term used to describe an asylum for the "incurable insane." In the late 1800's, there was no place for proper care of the mentally insane.

At the turn of the century in Illinois, the Peoria State Hospital was formally created. On 2 November 1902, Dr. George A. Zeller assumed the resposibilities of superintendent. Dr. Zeller understood the plight of those unfortunate beings languishing in the Almshouses. He wrote:

"...it is not until the almshouses are reached that the people begin to realize what a blessing this institution is to the State.It is at such time that the closets give up their skeletons and society for a brief moment again becomes conscious of the existance of individuals long supposed to be dead."

From the book, "Bittersweet Memories: A History of the Peoria State Hosptial" by author Gary Lisman.

"...While yet in her teens she was wooed by a son of a neighboring farmer. The young man’s family, however, were opposed to the match. In order to prevent the young couple from marrying, the boy’s mother visited the girl and threatened to bewitch her if she did not release her son from the engagement. The mother so wrought upon the girl’s fears that she became insane and strange to say exhibited all the signs of one possessed of an evil spirit. Shortly after the threat, Rhoda came home one night, jumped on the bed and stood on her head spinning around like a top. She declared that the “Old Scratch” was after her. For a time she was taken care of by her relatives, but was finally sent to the Adams county poor house. There she remained for forty years..."

If you dare read, Rhoda's story is told within the pages of the book, Rhoda, A Tragic & True Story of a Farmer's Daughter, where story, legend, and folklore, come alive. Click here.

D. Doc Derry

29 June 2009

54th Journey Around the Sun

Greetings, Family, Cousins and Friends!

This morning, I thought I would share an exerpt from my new book, "54th Journey Around the Sun (Chronicles of the Life and Times of a Preachers Boy)."

19,724 or 54th Journey Around the Sun

"As dawn broke over the Nishna Valley in America's heartland, there were just a few vapor trails streaking across America's otherwise clear morning sky. I was standing atop Atlantic, Iowa's tallest building, the Heritage House, I could feel the sun begin to warm my face as it rose above the treeline. Misty early morning fog hugged the ground blotting out streets and most of the houses and other buildings. Missing on the horizon were the majestic mountain ranges I had become so accustomed to in Alaska. Still, few things I have witnessed that are as beautiful. "It's my birthday, the 9th of October, and today marks my 54th journey around the sun," I thought. Aloud I said, "I wonder how many sunrises that is?" 19,724.

As though someone were using a TV remote flipping through the channels, bits and pieces of my life, tragedies and triumph alike, washed across my clear blue mind. I closed my eyes, trying to focus on certain events, from the earliest recollections as a child, to the events leading to this very moment. Milestones some. Regrets? Yes, I have a few regrets. Adventure? Oh yes, a lifetime of adventure. "There has been a lot of living crammed in these 54 years," I thought. Then, it occurred to me that if there were to be any kind of record, or account of my life, I had to put pen to paper, as it were. It may be of little importance to most, however, rather than leave many particulars of my life to speculatation, myths, non-truths or even outright lies, I give you a candid, honest and permanent record of this short and humble existence. Not for me, but for my posterity..."

Copyright © 2008 D. Doc Derry
All Rights Reserved.

Trust me when I say this is one of the most difficult endeavours I have ever undertaken. Yet, I find it is one of the most rewarding. The chronicles have begun, and I have completed several chapters. This book will also contain many photos and The Life and Times of the Derry Family in America since 1752.

I do not have a finish date as yet, but when it is done, I will be sure to let you all know.

D. Doc Derry

03 June 2009


Hello Cousins!

While searching for information on Rhoda Derry (b. 1834. d. 1906. A daughter of my Second Great-Grandfather, Jacob-1795 & sister of Philip-1817 & Basil-1820), I ran across this. Link: Bittersweet Memories: A history of the Peoria State Hospital. Very interesting story about Rhoda Derry and the horrors of life there.