This article from today’s 1890 St. Louis Post-Dispatch piqued my curiosity – “‘Bob’ Grierson in town again”.
This poor man had a story – what was his background that made for such an unfortunate highlight in the daily paper?
Robert was the son of Benjamin Grierson, a major general of volunteers who went on to be Superintendent of the General Mounted Recruiting Service in Saint Louis, Missouri from 1873-1874 and later commanded several forts in Texas. (He also had commanded the 10th US Cavalry, one of two units composed of African-American soldiers) The family was originally from Jacksonville Illinois but moved extensively as General Grierson was posted out West.
Robert attended medical school and suffered a history of mental illness. He managed the family ranch outside Fort Davis, Texas in the 1880s, and was elected county commissioner. Family investments fell on hard times as drought devastated the local cattle industry. When the county treasurer embezzled $2000, Robert, as the commissioner, was held personally accountable for the loss. That pressure, coupled with the death of his mother in 1888, overwhelmed him and he collapsed into depression. His family eventually had him committed to the Insane Asylum in Jacksonville, Illinois, where they still kept residence.
In the 1900, 1910, and 1920 census he was listed a patient at the Illinois Central Hospital for the Insane. He apparently indulged in frequent unscheduled trips to St. Louis during his stay at the asylum – I don’t blame him, I can only imagine how horrible conditions were at a turn-of-the-century insane asylum. He died in 1922 and was buried in Jacksonville, Illinois.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the past – it’s always fascinating for me to find the back story on a particular situation especially with a local connection!
“GRIERSON, ALICE KIRK | The Handbook of Texas Online| Texas State Historical Association (TSHA).” Texas State Historical Association (TSHA) | A Digital Gateway to Texas History. Accessed December 8, 2015
“Benjamin H. Grierson: An Inventory of His Papers, 1827-1941 and Undated, at the Southwest Collection/Special Collections Library.” University of Texas Libraries. Accessed December 8, 2015.
“Wooster, Robert. Frontier Crossroads Fort Davis and the West.” College Station: Texas A & M University Press, 2006. Google Books. Accessed December 8, 2015.