Madness Monday is a daily blogging prompt used by many genealogy bloggers to help them post content on their sites. To participate in Madness Monday we simply create a post with the main focus being an ancestor who either suffered some form of mental illness or an ancestor who might be hard to locate and drives you mad.
Green Hill Reese and Tabitha Freeman were married and had a son named...
...Moses Reese who married Martha Cordelia Jane Strickland and they had a daughter named Bertha A. Reese.
Green Hill Reese and Tabitha Freeman are my direct ancestors through Moses' brother, William Hanes Reese so Bertha would have been William Hanes Reese's niece.
This story is about Bertha A. Reese who was born in the spring of 1900 in Madison County, NC to Moses Reese (DOB: 11/9/1857 in Madison County, NC; DOD: 4/8/1929 in Madison County, NC) and Martha Cordelia Jane Strickland (DOB: 5/10/1870 in Rutherford County, NC; DOD: 7/7/1940 in Madison County, NC). She was the 5th of the 9-10 children of Moses and Martha Cordelia Jane.
1900 U.S. Census of Meder Fork (sic, should be Meadow Fork), Spring Creek Township, Madison County, NC, Roll T623_1205, Pg 8B and 9A, ED 86, Ancestry.com, Lines 96-100 and Lines 1-2, Dwelling 144, Family 144, "Reese, Moses"
Reese, Moses, Head, W(hite), M(ale), Born Sept, 1868, 41 yrs old, Married 18 yrs, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC, Can read & write, Farmer, rents farm
Reese, Caroline J., Wife, W, F, Born Aug, 1870, 30 yrs old, Married 18 yrs, 7 children with 5 still living, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC
Reese, Sonia, Daughter, W, F, Born Jan, 1888, 12 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC
Reese, Walter, Son, W, M, born May, 1891, 9 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC
Reese, Hardy H., Son, W, M, Born June, 1894, 5 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC
Reese, Ona V., Daughter, W, F, Born May, 1897, 3 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC
Reese, Bertha A., Daughter, W, F, Born April 1900, 1/12 mos old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC
1910 U.S. Census of Meadow Fork, Spring Creek, Madison County, NC, Roll T624_1107, Pg 1A, ED 86, Image 426, Ancestry.com, Lines 29-37, Dwelling 8, Family 8, "Reese, Mases" (sic, should be Moses Reese)
Reese, Mases, Head, M(ale), W(hite), 52 yrs old, 1st marriage, Married 23 yrs, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC, Speaks English, Farmer of general farm, Can read & write, owns farm free of mortgage
Reese, Cordela J. (sic, should be Cordelia), F, W, 39 yrs old, 1st marriage, Married 23 yrs, 10 children with 7 still living, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC, Can read & write
Reese, Hardy H., Son, M, W, 15 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC, Farm Labor on home farm, attended school this year
Reese, Olive V., Daughter, F, W, 12 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC, Farm Laborer, Can read & write, attended school this year
Reese, Bertha A., Daughter, F, W, 9 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC,
Reese, Roy C., Son, M, W, 6 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC,
Reese, Bernie E., Son, M, W, 3 yrs old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC,
Reese, Verline E., Son, M, W, 1 7/12 mos old, Born in NC, Father born in NC, Mother born in NC
1920 U.S. Census of Broughton Hospital for the Insane, Shelby Rd, Morganton, Burke County, North Carolina; Roll: T625_1287; Page: 14A; Enumeration District: 202; Image: 872, Line 12, "Bertha Reese"
Bertha Reese, Inpatient, F(emale), W(hite), 19 yrs old (DOB 1901), Single, Can read & write, Born in NC, Both parents born in U.S., No occupation
Death Certificate #296 , Registration District # 125147, Bertha A. Reese, DOD 3/6/1924 at State Hospital, Morganton, Burke County, NC
Bertha A. Reese
Residence: Madison County, NC
Length of Residence in city or town where death occurred: 6 yrs, 4 mos, 10 days
Female, White, Single
Born in 1900 in Madison County, NC, 24 yrs old
Father: Moses Reese born unknown
Mother: unknown born unknown
Informant: State Hospital records in Morganton, NC
DOD 3/6/1924 at 9:45am
Physician attended deceased from 9/17/1918 to 3/6/1924 and last saw her alive on 3/6/1924
Cause of death: Pellagra, duration 14 days
No autopsy, diagnosis based on chiricae (sic, ?) Symptoms
Dr. R.H. Long of Morganton, NC
Burial: State Hospital Cemetery, Morganton, NC on 3/8/1924
Undertaker: W.K. Houch of Morganton, NC
Poor Bertha resided in the Broughton Hospital for the Insane in Morganton, Burke County, NC from 9/17/1918 until she died at the young age of 24 on 3/6/1924. She resided in the Insane Assylum for over 6 years! What would send a young woman insane and cause her death at such a young age? It says she died of Pellagra.
Pellagra is a vitamin deficiency disease most commonly caused by a chronic lack of niacin (vitamin B3) in the diet. Native New World cultivators who had domesticated corn that required treatment of the grain with lime, an alkali. It has now been shown that the lime treatment makes niacin nutritionally available and reduces the chance of developing pellagra. Pellagra became common only when corn became a staple that was eaten without the traditional treatment. In the early 1900s, pellagra reached epidemic proportions in the American South. There were 1,306 reported pellagra deaths in South Carolina during the first ten months of 1915; 100,000 Southerners were affected in 1916. At this time, the scientific community held that pellagra was probably caused by a germ or some unknown toxin in corn. The Spartanburg Pellagra Hospital in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was the nation's first facility dedicated to discovering the cause of pellagra. It was established in 1914 with a special congressional appropriation to the U.S. Public Health Service (PHS) and set up primarily for research. In 1915, Joseph Goldberger, assigned to study pellagra by the Surgeon General of the United States, showed that pellagra was linked to diet by inducing the disease in prisoners, using the Spartanburg Pellagra Hospital as his clinic. By 1926, Goldberger established that a balanced diet or a small amount of brewer's yeast prevented Pellagra. In the research conducted between 1900–1950, it was found that the number of cases of women with pellagra was consistently double the number of cases of afflicted men. This is thought to be due to the inhibitory effect of estrogen on the conversion of the amino acid tryptophan to niacin. As primary wage earners, men were given consideration and preference at the dinner table. They also had pocket money to buy food outside the household. Women gave protein quality foods to their children first. Women also would eat after everyone else had a chance to eat. Women also continued to serve maize, molasses and fat back pork which combine to contribute to cause pellagra. Pellagra is classically described by "the four D's": diarrhea, dermatitis, dementia and death. Untreated, the disease can kill within four or five years.
Causes today are:
Neglect and abuse, resulting in malnutrition
Dermatitis, alopecia, oedema
Smooth, beefy red glossitis
Red skin lesions
Weakness, malaise, apathy, lassitude
Ataxia, paralysis of extremities, peripheral neuritis
High sensitivity to sunlight
Mental confusion - Neurological manifestations include anxiety, depression, delusions, hallucinations.
Eventual dementia - Psycho-sensory disturbances (impressions as being painful, annoying bright lights, odours intolerance causing nausea and vomiting, dizziness after sudden movements); Psycho-motor disturbances (restlessness, tense and a desire to quarrel, increased preparedness for motor action); Emotional disturbances
Treatment is with nicotinamide, a chemical related to niacin. In order to prevent and/or treat pellagra, provide a diet high in protein and adequate in calories. The addition of meats, milk, peanuts, green leafy vegetables, whole or enriched grains, and brewers' dry yeast can enhance the niacin intake.
So, evidently Bertha had suffered from the dementia, mental confusion and who knows what else. She was put in the insane assylum in 1919 and didn't die until 1924. If this had only occurred in the late 1930's or early 1940's she might have been able to be treated with the simple vitamin and a good diet. It's so sad that something that basic and simple could have saved her from such suffering and such an early death. She never married or had children.