Rhoda Derry grew up in a farming family that had a lot of money. She had a happy, normal life up until she was 16 and met a boy whose family lived on a farm next door. Even though his folks didn’t like the relationship, the two started dating.
Rhoda Derry goes crazy because of a threat.
When the boy’s parents found out that Rhoda and the boy were going to get married a few years later, they accused Rhoda of being a witch. The boy’s parents thought Rhoda was a witch because her grandmother, Mary Derry, had told them so.
After the warning, Rhoda had her first mental breakdown. Many people think that she lost her mind because of the threat from the boy’s parents and her strong fear of magic. Rhoda soon came to believe that an evil ghost called “Old Scratch” was following her. Every day, she became less stable.
Institutionalizing Rhoda Derry
Rhoda’s behaviour got worse, so she was sent to the Jacksonville Mental Hospital. There, she was told that she couldn’t get better, so she was sent back home to her parents. Her parents tried to take care of their mentally ill daughter, but they couldn’t do it anymore. Rhoda moved into the Adams County Almshouse on September 3, 1860. Records showed that the 25-year-old woman was “blind” and “crazy.”
Rhoda and other people who lived at the Almshouse were treated in a cruel way. Rhoda lived in and was treated in a way that was unfit for an animal, let alone a person, for more than 40 years.
There were 101 people living in the Almshouse, and 36 of them were called “Insane paupers.” In 1881, a report from the General Assembly showed how bad things were at the Almshouse. Rhoda spent her time naked and huddled in a straw-filled wooden box. Her poop was all over the box, and mice had made homes next to her.
Rhoda sat in the wooden box with her knees close to her body and a canvas cloth over her head. She never stopped moving. Rhoda had marks all over her body, and both of her eyes were gone. She hit herself in the mouth, and all of her teeth fell out. She couldn’t say anything.
Rhoda stayed in this position for so long that her muscles wasted away, making it so she couldn’t move her legs. By the time the 1881 General Assembly report came out, her knees were almost up to her chin.
Rhoda Sent to the asylum in Bartonville
In 1904, Rhoda was sent to the Bartonville Asylum in nearby Peoria, IL, where Dr. George A. Zeller worked. He found out that she had been mistreated at the previous centre for years and made it his goal to help the woman. She took a bath every day and slept in a bed for the first time in years. With Dr Zeller’s help, Rhoda did well for the next two years.
Rhoda died on October 9, 1906, one day before her 72nd birthday. She was buried on the asylum’s grounds. After three years, the place was called the Peoria State Hospital.
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