This week I received a package in the mail from my Dad’s cousin with so much wonderful genealogy information about my father’s side of the family. I glanced through the pages briefly Monday night before attending a birthday celebration for one of my best friends and I was blown away by the amount of information that has been gathered over the years. One such story is the above obituary for my 3x great grandfather, Royal Riley Wright and so today’s FTF post is dedicated to him. It’s finding these jaw droppers in my family tree that makes me wish: 1. generations lived longer and allowed us to meet with some of these people; and 2. that family didn’t feel the need to “hide” painful or embarrassing events. Especially when those events can also include things that can affect the health of future generations, like depression or cancer. Things happen in life, no one is perfect, “to err is human” as Alexander Pope once wrote, and perhaps if we were all a little more understanding (and forgiving) generations wouldn’t feel the need to hide events. Then again, if that was the case, it would make the genealogy search a lot less fun.
Royal Riley Wright was born on 20 Oct 1827 in New York to Elihu and Margarett Wright. He had at least five other brothers: Ebenezer b. 1810, mother Hipsibuth Wright; Roswell b. 1830; Asahel b. 1834; James R. b. 1836; and Burt b. 1855, and one sister, Amanda b. unknown.
In the early 1830s, the Wright’s packed up and moved west to become one of the earliest settlers in Illinois in DeKalb, located in DeKalb County. On 20 Apr 1854, Royal married Mary Siglin. They remained in DeKalb County, settling in Sycamore, 7 miles northeast of DeKalb, where they had 8 children: Margaret Jane b. 9 Apr 1856; Frank b. 25 Apr 1857; Douglas Asel b. 10 Jan 1860; Charles Howard b. 25 Apr 1861; Amos Milton b. 1863; Jacob b. 17 Jan 1868; Flora b. 1868; and Hiram b. 6 Jan 1872.
A little over a year after Jacob’s birth, Royal took his own life after he began to experience “melancholy insanity” and complained of “a terrible opprecion [sic] of the brain” and that “his digestive organs were deranged. He spit blood, his tongue was furred.” Royal became interested in a series of religious meetings that were held in the neighborhood, perhaps in an attempt to save himself. But after suffering a bout of insomnia for seven or eight days, and believing the end was near, Royal chose to end his own suffering. It’s obvious now in today’s age to realize that something deeper than “religious excitement” was happening to Royal. But what, exactly?
I decided to try my luck on a Google search by entering the terms of Royal’s condition: depression, headaches, spitting up blood/bleeding lungs, and furred tongue and the results were interesting. Many I could cross off due to various food additives found in processed foods that would have been in limited quantities, if at all, in the 1870s. So I turned my focus to potential diseases and triggers that would’ve existed at that time. Most of my searches turned up the same few items: mold, bacterial or fungal infection and Lyme disease.
Because Royal was the only one apparently suffering, I feel that I can strike mold off the list. I would think that the rest of the family would have been exhibiting similar symptoms if mold were the cause. I also feel that I can cross off anything that would be highly contagious, like mycoplasma. My intuition tells me it was most likely a fungal infection that possibly entered his bloodstream or Lyme disease. However, I’m by no means a medical expert, this is all purely speculation on my part with little medical knowledge besides the use of WebMD. If anyone might know of a disease or infection that has characteristics of the symptoms listed above, or is able to confirm my suspicions I would love to hear from them!
Royal was laid to rest in the Charter Grove Cemetery in DeKalb County, IL where his parents Elihu and Margarett and his brothers, Ebenezer and Burt also rest. Mary would outlive her husband by nearly sixty years, passing away at the age of ninety-three. She followed her children west and she was buried in Husum, Klickitat County, Washington.