The Black Sheep in the Family

Joined
Jun 7, 2021
Having spent several years studying the Salem Witch Trials, I can assure you that it was something more complicated.
Oh I have no doubt of that. But the linked article makes a valid point, I think. Having worked for a psychiatrist for several years, I know the slippery slope of mental illness is not easily identified, but that there are absolutely physical links that need to be explored.
 

Fairfield

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Oh I have no doubt of that. But the linked article makes a valid point, I think. Having worked for a psychiatrist for several years, I know the slippery slope of mental illness is not easily identified, but that there are absolutely physical links that need to be explored.
Probably not. The SWT were the penultimate outbreak of nasty mass hysteria that began (and ended) in Europe. Unless there was a lot of rye (enough to go from Switzerland to Spain to Scandinavia and enough to last from the middle ages until the 1800's), a bit of mold is unlikely. It all sounds like that scene in Christmas Carol when Scrooge suggests that Marley's ghost might be a bit of undigested beef!
 
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Kingsport, Tennessee
I think this family was eating something that was poisonous to their mind.
The father lived out his years with his surviving daughter, Mary. He died about 1885. She married but raised a son basically alone. The two brothers, James Eli and David Noah married and raised large families. Nimrod in 1900 is living with his sister, Mary, and her son. He never married and was listed in the 1870 census as, "insane". The youngest child George W. Land probably didn't survive childhood. I fail to find him in the census.
 

nc native

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NC Piedmont
Here's another newspaper clipping about Thomas R. Lamm, my black sheep ancestor. A lot of this cash that was found went to pay off years worth of back taxes Thomas Lamm owed North Carolina and Wilson County. He did leave all nineteen of his children property and cash in his will. In the newspaper article only twelve children are mentioned. He had seven with his wife's sister in his second household.

4c499e79-3f98-48ea-8698-a9ab9e45794f.jpg
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2021
Probably not. The SWT were the penultimate outbreak of nasty mass hysteria that began (and ended) in Europe. Unless there was a lot of rye (enough to go from Switzerland to Spain to Scandinavia and enough to last from the middle ages until the 1800's), a bit of mold is unlikely. It all sounds like that scene in Christmas Carol when Scrooge suggests that Marley's ghost might be a bit of undigested beef!
My sincere apologies. The right word I should have used is fungus, not mold. Here is a quote from the article whose link I shared:

"The fungus is called ergot, and attacks grasses (like the grains we eat) by sending out little fungal shoots in place of certain kernels. Until the 19th century, it was often thought that the ergot shoots were just kernels that had been baked brown by the sun. It's known to thrive on rye (which was the main grain grown in Salem Village) and, significantly, contains chemicals similar to LSD. Cases of ergot poisoning (known as ergotism) were well-documented in medieval Europe, and often caused victims to experience the same symptoms as the "bewitched" Salem girls. "

Some of the symptoms sound similar to the ones experienced by this poor family: "seizures, hallucinations, skin prickling, and violent gastric distress..." This would make anyone feel possessed by the devil if you didn't know what caused it! In particular it could explain the suffering they compared to having a crown of thorns or being pierced in the side.
I'm not insisting this is the cause, are I'm just suggesting it could be.
 

Fairfield

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My sincere apologies. The right word I should have used is fungus, not mold. Here is a quote from the article whose link I shared:

"The fungus is called ergot, and attacks grasses (like the grains we eat) by sending out little fungal shoots in place of certain kernels. Until the 19th century, it was often thought that the ergot shoots were just kernels that had been baked brown by the sun. It's known to thrive on rye (which was the main grain grown in Salem Village) and, significantly, contains chemicals similar to LSD. Cases of ergot poisoning (known as ergotism) were well-documented in medieval Europe, and often caused victims to experience the same symptoms as the "bewitched" Salem girls. "

Some of the symptoms sound similar to the ones experienced by this poor family: "seizures, hallucinations, skin prickling, and violent gastric distress..." This would make anyone feel possessed by the devil if you didn't know what caused it! In particular it could explain the suffering they compared to having a crown of thorns or being pierced in the side.
I'm not insisting this is the cause, are I'm just suggesting it could be.
IMO, that would be a cop out for those girls. They told untruths and it was orchestrated. It's very suspicious that these fungal attacks came only when the girls confronted enemies of the Putnam family 🙂. The second wave of accused were mainly people of property--and guess which family was able to seize that land? One of the accusing girls (Ann Putnam) eventually admitted to having faked those attacks (but she never accepted responsibility, saying that the devil had made her do it).

You are a much kinder person than I 🙂: I have no doubt that the little horrors acted with 'malice aforethought"
 

lupaglupa

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Upstate New York
Here's another newspaper clipping about Thomas R. Lamm, my black sheep ancestor. A lot of this cash that was found went to pay off years worth of back taxes Thomas Lamm owed North Carolina and Wilson County. He did leave all nineteen of his children property and cash in his will. In the newspaper article only twelve children are mentioned. He had seven with his wife's sister in his second household.

View attachment 409911
"A man of marked peculiarity..." Now there is a classy way to say it!
 

A. Roy

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Sep 2, 2019
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Raleigh, North Carolina
I'm proposing a thread here where we acknowledge the black sheep in our families. Most of us, I think, like to comb through the family tree and pick out people we can brag about, at least to our children.

Well, the first thing that occurred to me is that I always thought of myself as the black sheep in my family. But aside from that, I have nothing like the gruesome tales mentioned here so far. Going back a few generations, I can only think of two old fellows from the late 1800s to early 1900s: 1) My maternal grandfather; before she died, I finally got my grandma to admit that he had been a snake-oil salesman. 2) Then, on my father's side, there was great-great uncle Gus, who was a great shame to the family, because he drank. (These were super-strict teetotaling Swedish Methodists, who never put up with any nonsense. Poor old Uncle Gus...)

Roy B..
 

Story

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Location
SE PA
He was the long time trusted head clerk at a bank. Then he developed a gambling habit. He only meant to "borrow" the money, as many say, but then he couldn't win at the tables to pay it back. A routine audit found the discrepancy and the bank president at first didn't believe it was my guy. But it was. The worst part was how it affected his family. He had two daughters who moved in society but after the scandal neither married and they ended up almost destitute. They took the father in after he got out of prison but had so little money that the youngest ended up dying in the county poorhouse.

John5thNJ is right, you should chronicle this tale as either a blog post or article somewheres.
 

Story

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Location
SE PA
My 2x great grandfather Thomas R. Lamm who fought with the 43rd NC Infantry during the Civil War would probably be the blackest sheep in my family line. He married a woman named Nancy Thorne shortly after the Civil War and started a second household with her sister raising nineteen children in two different households.

Besides bigamy he also killed a man after an argument as the attached newspaper article describes.

He became very wealthy running several successful businesses in Wilson County, North Carolina. He sold horse buggies, was the postmaster of his community at one time, ran a cotton gin, owned thousands of acres of land he rented to sharecroppers, owned a general store and established a church in a one room schoolhouse that was named after him.

He was put on trial for the killing of Eatman but he was acquitted. He did pay the widow of the man he killed a cash settlement for his part in this incident.

He survived his pistol wound, dying in 1915 at the age of seventy four.
Dude .... this is a film by Quintin Tarantino.
 

Story

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Aug 5, 2011
Location
SE PA
Our grandson was given an assignment this spring to write about a direct ancestor associated with an event in history and I gleefully collected all the stories he could be proud of. His choice, however, was the unfortunate 13 times great grandfather who was one of the few survivors of an situation where recent archeological excavations have pointed to wide spread cannibalism among the survivors. The title of his class presentation was "I May or May Not Be the Descendant of a Cannibal." But he got an "A" so that's something I can brag about!
@Reconstructed Rebel
You can not dangle this without starting a dedicated thread.

That is cruel and unusual for the curious minded, perhaps even downright sadistic in this particular environment.

If your son wrote it up, how about just using his text verbatim?
 

Fairfield

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@Reconstructed Rebel
You can not dangle this without starting a dedicated thread.

That is cruel and unusual for the curious minded, perhaps even downright sadistic in this particular environment.

If your son wrote it up, how about just using his text verbatim?
Once that possibility would have been hidden but now this is exactly the kind of ancestor that kids love to fine.
 
Joined
Nov 26, 2014
One of my great grandparents sons was court martialed in the Spanish American War. Henry was then written out of the family tree
There are Still some relatives now who insist he never existed
Two great Uncles were severely affected by WWI and unable to go out in public. I feel bad for all.
 

nc native

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Aug 30, 2011
Location
NC Piedmont
“a man of marked peculiarity”
I wonder if my ancestor's experiences during the Civil War had anything to do with his violent temper and behavior. He did fight in several small battles and the battle of Gettysburg where two of his cousins were killed at the railroad cut on the first day. He also
spent over a year after being captured during the Mine Run Campaign in November 1863. He was sent to Capitol Prison in Washington D.C. and then transferred to Fort Delaware where he was held until his parole in March 1865. I know Fort Delaware was no picnic for the men who were imprisoned there.

He was definitely a bit on the eccentric and violent side to say the least. Here's another tale that is documented in several of the genealogy profiles I have seen online and some things I have heard about him from a couple of family members who knew some of his children.

He kept two separate households in Wilson County with his wife and her sister who were orphaned by the Civil War. One day, the sister got tired of these arrangements and decided to leave, getting as far as Georgia. Thomas Lamm got one of his horse buggies (he sold and collected them) hitched it up and ended up tracking her down after several months. He found the woman he was looking for who happens to be my 2x great grandmother and tied her to his buggy and made her walk back to Wilson County while he rode in style.

He hated having his picture made so I don't think I'll ever find a picture of him. He was a busy man running several profitable businesses so I guess he could never sit still enough for a picture the way photography worked at the time. One of his grandchildren told me he was always a well dressed man who was of average height with a barrel chest and a stout build. My relative said he looked a lot like Santa Claus. He was not well liked by the citizens of his community because of his greed and bad temperament but he was good to his children. He sued several of his neighbors in property disputes and he sued the railroad that ran through Wilson County for damages to his property when sparks from a train set the woods on fire on one of his properties during a drought one year.

My grandfather inherited a violent temper from his grandfather Thomas Lamm which became more noticeable when he drank according to my my father and my uncles and aunts. That is one reason my father never touched a drop of alcohol his entire life.
One of Thomas Lamm's sons was not happy when the first telephones were being installed in homes and the house across the road got one and he didn't. This man got a saw and sawed down two of his neighbor's telephone poles before being arrested by deputies.
 
Joined
Jun 7, 2021
I wonder if my ancestor's experiences during the Civil War had anything to do with his violent temper and behavior. He did fight in several small battles and the battle of Gettysburg where two of his cousins were killed at the railroad cut on the first day. He also
spent over a year after being captured during the Mine Run Campaign in November 1863. He was sent to Capitol Prison in Washington D.C. and then transferred to Fort Delaware where he was held until his parole in March 1865. I know Fort Delaware was no picnic for the men who were imprisoned there.

He was definitely a bit on the eccentric and violent side to say the least. Here's another tale that is documented in several of the genealogy profiles I have seen online and some things I have heard about him from a couple of family members who knew some of his children.

He kept two separate households in Wilson County with his wife and her sister who were orphaned by the Civil War. One day, the sister got tired of these arrangements and decided to leave, getting as far as Georgia. Thomas Lamm got one of his horse buggies (he sold and collected them) hitched it up and ended up tracking her down after several months. He found the woman he was looking for who happens to be my 2x great grandmother and tied her to his buggy and made her walk back to Wilson County while he rode in style.

He hated having his picture made so I don't think I'll ever find a picture of him. He was a busy man running several profitable businesses so I guess he could never sit still enough for a picture the way photography worked at the time. One of his grandchildren told me he was always a well dressed man who was of average height with a barrel chest and a stout build. My relative said he looked a lot like Santa Claus. He was not well liked by the citizens of his community because of his greed and bad temperament but he was good to his children. He sued several of his neighbors in property disputes and he sued the railroad that ran through Wilson County for damages to his property when sparks from a train set the woods on fire on one of his properties during a drought one year.

My grandfather inherited a violent temper from his grandfather Thomas Lamm which became more noticeable when he drank according to my my father and my uncles and aunts. That is one reason my father never touched a drop of alcohol his entire life.
One of Thomas Lamm's sons was not happy when the first telephones were being installed in homes and the house across the road got one and he didn't. This man got a saw and sawed down two of his neighbor's telephone poles before being arrested by deputies.
It is hard to imagine that his experiences in the war did not have a great effect on him. Stomping someone to death takes a level of rage that most people don't reach even on their worst days. I recall a statement by some Union soldier to the effect that, as a Christian, he hoped he would not die in battle, not because he was afraid to die, but because he didn't want to die feeling that much hate and anger. Violence can be a learned trait just as much as kindness. I know what you mean about your grandfather and ggrandfather. It was the same in my family. Alcohol made them cruel people.
 
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