Youngest Insane Patient – 1897
I have begun working on a new book that will probably be titled Odd and Interesting Stories, or something like that, and came across this story about an 8-year-old boy who was committed to a lunatic asylum in 1897. I was really touched by this story and wondered enough about what happened to him to do some research. I am sorry to report Fred’s story does not have a happy ending.
The St. Louis Post Dispatch
St. Louis, Missouri
November 14, 1897
YOUNGEST INSANE PATIENT
Fred Loos Trader is the youngest inmate of the Nevada State Insane Asylum. He is 8 years old. He was bright beyond other children. An insidious disease unsettled his reason and he became a case for alienists to marvel on.
Fred is the son of Rev. W. S. Trader, a well-known minister of the Christian Church in Warrensburg, Missouri. The boy was born in Kearney, Missouri on November 28, 1889. In his babyhood he was healthy and well developed. He was noted for his bright, sunshiny temperament. About two years ago a tendency to capillary catarrh was manifested. On the advice of the child’s uncle, Dr. J.W. Trader, a physician of Sedalia, Fred was kept out of school in the hope that he would outgrow the symptoms.
He was gentle and obedient and his condition continued until last May when one day he laughed for fifteen or twenty minutes. When he ceased, he was apparently exhausted.
The family was not greatly concerned at this. The next day, however, the paroxysm returned and continued for a longer time. Medical treatment was obtained, which seemed to give relief. About this time the whole nature of the child seemed to change. He became rough and willful, indulging in profanity and developed a hatred for his mother, toward whom he had hitherto been exceedingly affectionate.
A number of physicians in Warrensburg were called to see him but their treatment gave no relief. He continued to grow more violent and frequently assaulted his mother, at one time striking her on the side of the face with an iron poker, inflicting a severe and painful wound. At another time he went to his room, locked the door and broke out all the glass in three windows. During all this time his physical health seemed good. He was not emaciated and his weight, which was fifty pounds at the time of the first manifestation of his trouble, continued about the same. When his mother talked to him about his conduct he said he was sent by Hell to kill her.
The last of October Fred’s father took the child to Kansas City and had him examined by a specialist who unhesitatingly pronounced the child insane and recommended he be sent to an asylum for treatment. Upon this advice and that of many friends, on Nov. 4, the father applied for and obtained an order admitting Fred to the Insane Asylum at Nevada where he now under treatment.
* * *
I was able to find Fred’s death certificate which mostly did not jive with other information I found. It stated that he had only been in the asylum for a little more than two years and his age at the time of his death was 19. Fred was 21. It also stated that his parents and place of birth were unknown. He died in the asylum from epilepsy on December 6, 1910.
The following are excerpts from his mother’s obituary found at newspapers.com.
The Sedalia Democrat
January 23, 1938
Funeral of Mrs. Rose Jane Trader
Funeral services for Mrs. Rose Jane Trader, 80 years old, widow of the late Rev. William S. Trader, who passed away at the home of her daughter, Mrs. George Bichsel at 8:15 o’clock on Friday night following a lingering illness, will be conducted at the home of Mrs. Bichsel at 2 o’clock this afternoon.
Interment will be in the family lot in Crown Hill Cemetery beside the grave of her husband. Mr. Trader was a minister of the Christian Church and retired several years prior to his death on July 8, 1921.
Ten children were born to this union, four who survive. The six children who preceded her in death are John William Trader, Frank B. Trader, Miss Maude Trader, Lee Trader, Fred Trader, and an infant son.
* * *
A few interesting links about the asylum:
There is quite an amazing story about the patient, Edward Deeds, his amazing hand made book of drawings, losing the book, finding it in a dump in Texas in 1970, and then tracking down the artist. The drawings are now selling for thousands of dollars. Deeds and Trader were at Nevada State Lunatic Asylum #3 at the same time.
Tracking down this information and following these bunny trails has been great fun. As fascinated as I am with genealogy, I wonder why I have never traced my family tree. Maybe someday.
Do you know there are genealogical mystery books? The following two books are from two authors I have enjoyed reading. They both have a series of genealogical mysteries available on Amazon.
I am an affiliate of Amazon and do receive a small amount of money if you buy these books by using these links, but there is no extra cost to you. I have bought or borrowed all of Goodwin’s and Robinson’s books and enjoyed them or would not recommend them.