Do You Mention It?

Let’s just say this image comes from the “insanity” record of a relative.

“On the 6th of June she developed a sever[sic] attack of delusional insanity with homicidal tendancy, which has continued up to the present time.”
This document was dated June 14. It is a late nineteenth century record.
How much of this would you share with relatives? I’m not posting any identifying information about the individual (at least not yet). Additional information in the file provides more details about her threats and her behavior. It also indicates two siblings were also insane–a record of commital was also found for one of them as well during the same time period. I have not yet looked for any mention of the scenario in the local newspaper, but that is on my list of things to do.
You never know what you will find looking through court records. How much to share is potentially another question.
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2 thoughts on “Do You Mention It?

  1. Hi. I have also had to make the same decision about “uncomfortable” or distressing information I have found in family records. If -and sometimes it is not absolutely clear-, if it is the individual, I have put the facts as stated in a document, like a death certificate from a state, signed by a physician. I don’t embellish, “just the facts, ma’am”. I primarily use Ancestry.com. To keep from having to access each record to remind myself of facts, like COD, I first add the record to the person, then I go to the “Fact” and Add any information. Some of the deaths are not pretty; suicide, horrific accidents, a major fire in a theater. Or I might ask a question, add source information. That way anyone who wants to can follow it. You may find that the closer in time or relationship, the more sensitive you will feel. You will probably get resistance from certain people about adultery, suicide, criminality, as well as mental health issues (Which seems to the last frontier in health. Remember when no one used the word pregnant?). But, it could also do enormous good. Could someone really need to see this information, which is the truth, to help themselves or others in the family? I’ve seen a number of things and thought, Aha! That makes sense now. Some of your older relatives may not want to talk about certain facts. That is not unusual, none of mine did. At least not to a child. Now they are all gone, and I have to guess. So, I say, put the facts. There are gentle ways of doing it. Have plenty of supporting documentation for these facts. I think someone (maybe not everyone) down the road will thank you for it.

    • I am in agreement–sticking to documentable facts is a great way to go and usually keeps a person busy enough. Actually repeating conjecture and unproven theories is problematic especially when the “source” didn’t witness those events firsthand. Usually the “family secrets” in death and birth certificates were not as “secret” at the time as they are today.

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