"...we should pass over all biographies of 'the good and the great,' while we search carefully the slight records of wretches who died in prison, in Bedlam, or upon the gallows."
~Edgar Allan Poe

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Newspaper Clipping of the Day

Via Newspapers.com



On February 23, 1910, the Honesdale, Pennsylvania “Citizen” carried an account of some strange doings around Prince Edward Island:

The French farmers of New Zealand, a small settlement at the extreme eastern end of Prince Edward Island, have been thrown into a state of intense nervous excitement by a series of supernatural phenomena surrounding a young woman named Chinene. The ignorant farmers believe she is possessed of a devil, and the Rev. Father Walker of Rollo Bay, the parish priest, has been importuned to perform the ceremony of exorcism once resorted to for the purpose of curing those possessed of devils. 

The girl is about 20 years old. Since the death of her parents she has been keeping house for her brothers, small farmers of New Zealand. Several months ago the eldest brother informed his sister that he intended to marry a young woman in the neighborhood. Miss Chinene immediately burst into a fit of rage and declared that "she would as soon have a devil in the family as that girl." 

That night the household was aroused by loud noises, which seemed to come from all parts of the house. Then the voice of the girt, shrieking in agony, was heard from her room. The brother, fearing his sister was being murdered, rushed to the girl's room, followed by other members of the family. When they opened the door, they declare, they saw the young woman floating in the air several feet above her bed. She was talking incoherently and in language much different from that used by her in ordinary conversation. The girl finally sank back on her bed and fell into a natural sleep. When she awoke the next morning she said she knew nothing of the occurrences. Night after night the same performance was repeated. 

News of the happenings soon leaked out among the farmers and those simple people came to believe that the girl by her sacrilegious remark concerning her prospective sister-in-law had given herself over to the evil one. The girl developed clairvoyant powers while in what seemed like a hypnotic trance and told her visitors how much money they had with them. She was also able to repeat the addresses and contents of letters in their pockets, or at least she persuaded them that she could. 

The local doctors were called in to treat the girl, but they could do nothing. Next the parish priest's assistance was sought, but earnest prayers seemed to be unavailing. The excitement in the neighborhood became so intense that Father Walker issued a notice to parishioners forbidding any further visits to the home of the young woman. 

Several physicians were finally summoned from this city for consultation. Among them was Dr. Peter Conroy, chief of staff at the Charlottetown Hospital. Dr. Conroy declares that there is nothing in the case which cannot be explained by science. His theory is that the young woman is an auto-hypnotist with "obsessive influences." He also advances the theory that by involuntary hypnotism she creates delusions in the minds of those around her. 

All efforts to relieve Miss Chinene having been unavailing, her health has given way under the strain and she was brought to the Falconer Hospital for the Insane In this city. Medical attention will there be given to her with a view to ridding her of the strange conditions which have been afflicting her.

I couldn’t find anything more about the story--not even the young woman’s full name--so it’s a mystery what finally became of the unfortunate Miss Chinene.

5 comments:

  1. "Chinene" is a really odd surname. There's a Margaret Cheverie, aged 20, listed in the 1911 census as living in that area with the head of household (her brother Patrick, aged 27); and another brother William J., aged 16. But in 1921 she's not there, unless she married. Neither were her brothers.

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    1. It's such an unusual name, I've wondered if it wasn't a misprint. Old newspapers got people's names wrong all the time.

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    2. Found the original report! (OK, maybe I'm a bit obsessive once something catches my interest). It's quite restrained, and rather touching in its care for Margaret. I found it on https://islandnewspapers.ca/ The original and a rough translation are:

      L'Impartial, Tignish, IPE, Mardi 8 Fevrier 1910

      Une jeune fille du nom de Cheverie, du village de New Zealand, près de Souris, a été amenée à l’asile des aliénés, Charlottetown, la semaine dernière. La jeune fille est âgée de vingt ans et certaines gens disent qu'elle est possédée du démon, mais il n’y a rien dans ces commentaires méchants. Habitant avec ses frères, la jeune fille est devenue folle et comme toute autre personne dépourvue de raison elle commettait des actes un peu bizarres. Il a donc fallu l’envoyer à l'asile des aliénés où elle est à présent et où, espérons-le, elle recouvrera la raison.


      A girl named Cheverie from the village of New Zealand, near Souris, was taken to the lunatic asylum, Charlottetown, last week. The girl is 20 years old and some people say that she is possessed by a demon, but there is nothing in these wicked comments. Living with her brothers, the girl became mad and like anyone else deprived of their reason, she committed some rather bizarre acts. So it was necessary to send her to the insane asylum where she is now and where, we hope, she will recover her reason.

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    3. Thank you for finding this! The poor girl.

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  2. I'm guessing the brother's intended decided to look elsewhere for a husband...

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