This file portion of www.watertownhistory.org website
Written and contributed by Ben Feld
What on earth is this younger generation coming to? They are supposed to be so well educated, so intelligent, so aware of all the new theories and developments, and yet we find them acting as if they are living in the Dark Ages. Here we are in 1878 and we find some of these love-sick people still believing what we have been calling “witchcraft” for many years.
Last night I read in the Watertown Democrat that a “romantic” young lady nearly lost her life at a hotel in Ontario, Canada, trying a foolish, ridiculous, and downright dangerous experiment which must have been dreamed up by some idiot a hundred years ago.
This young girl had apparently been unable to attract a young man and now must have been desperate to become “matramonified.” Or maybe she was just an unintelligent, naïve girl looking for a thrill. The newspaper didn’t give any clue about her personality. It only says that she had heard an old saying that any girl who swallows a raw chicken’s heart will have for a husband the first male person who shakes hands with her. This gullible girl accepted that as scientific fact and attempted to swallow a chicken’s raw heart, but failed.
I would think so! Who ever swallows something that large? In fact, who would swallow a raw chicken heart even if it were the size of a marble? Just the thought of it makes me want to choke -- which she did. The heart stuck in her throat and would not move either way, down or up. But somewhere near her was a friend, a very good friend, a friend to whom that girl now owes her life. That friend called a doctor who did something, the newspaper didn’t say what, and saved the girl from an untimely death by choking. The girl was very, very lucky.
That reminds me of an account I read of two much more sensible young people, very much in love, and very much victims of their love. It happened, the Watertown Gazette said, in Keokuk, Iowa, where about one night 16-year-old Miss Minne Rail was entertaining her suitor, Charles Gray, who was urging the young lady to name the day for their wedding now that she had agreed to marry him. The girl was coy and bashful and hesitated about it, but the lover was adamant, and sought in every way to induce a compliance with his wishes. At last she consented saying” “I will marry you in April”.
In the excitement of the moment, Mr. Gray threw is arms around her waist and drew her to him with a quick passionate embrace. He was not conscious of using unusual strength, but the girl gave a short, sharp scream, and exclaiming “Oh, Charley, I’m gone!” fell dead in his arms with her head resting on his shoulder.
That was a sad but beautiful incident. Not at all like a happening here in Watertown, just last week. Maybe you will think this illustrates true love; and maybe it does. Maybe it was a case of desperation, and maybe it was, as they say these days, a case of a young man being crazy with the heat. This July has been rather warm, you know.
Anyway, Alert Flechsig, from Milwaukee, arrived here on the train Saturday evening and immediately went to the residence of his intended bride, a young lady in the Seventh Ward. He says everything was peaceful and serene during his visit.
He returned to the girl’s house the next day, and, according to him, nothing special happened. But before leaving, he asked her sister for some matches, which were given to him. He then left his beloved’s roof and shortly afterward was found at the Milwaukee & St. Paul depot in paroxysms of pain giving every indication of having been poisoned.
Dr. Spalding was at once summoned and soon found out the cause of the trouble. Young Albert admitted he had eaten the matches with a view of self destruction, although, he declared, the dose was worse than he had bargained for, and if he lived through it he would never do so again. His throat, Dr. Spalding revealed, was badly burned and his stomach dreadfully swelled in his bowels and chest.
He was taken to the home of his lady-love, and for a time his case looked rather dubious; but he gradually improved and was eventually put on the train back to Milwaukee.
The editor of the Gazette made light of the whole situation, treating it as a case of unrequited love and saying “it is hoped that when he makes the right match it may prove the true antidote to his present condition and feelings. But I don’t think he should be so flippant; especially now that it has been learned that Albert had had a quarrel with his father before leaving Milwaukee which motivated him to attempt putting himself out of existence in this novel and almost effectual manner. The young lady denies that any action of hers could form a motive for his desperate action.
I suppose each of us will have to seek our own explanation of the whole affair remembering the old saying that:
In the spring a young man’s fancy lightly (?) turns to thoughts of love.