Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A Death in the Family

The diary labeled "Gustav Von Weren".
It's been a while since my last post, but I've been spending a great deal of time doing research. I was recently given a box of items from an area resident whose grandmother actually knew Von Weren. Among the items was a diary with Von Weren's name on the cover. As I mentioned before, Dr. Gustav Von Weren moved to Berwyn, PA with his new wife, Ulrike, in late 1894 to continue his research into prosthetics and tissue reanimation. According to the diary, living in the recently abandoned Otley mansion provided him with the quiet and privacy he preferred. Sadly, this would inadvertently lead him to tragedy.

The end of the 19th century saw some of the coldest winters recorded in U.S. history. The Great Freeze in 1894 saw temperatures plummet to 18 degrees, and that was in Florida. A number of people in the area were stricken with "consumption" or what is now known as tuberculosis. Only two months after their move, Ulrike quickly grew ill, which is ill-characteristic for tuberculosis. Despite being a doctor, Gustav did not have the medical knowledge or medication necessary to treat infectious disease. Gustav sent word to the surrounding towns pleading aid for his wife, but all requests were "respectfully" declined. The people in the area had believed for years that the Otley mansion had a sordid past and thought it to be cursed ground. As a result, no one ever ventured out there, even if a life was at risk. This directly lead to (or at least Von Weren believed it so) to Ulrike's untimely death and the premature ending of their marriage. It should be noted that in point of fact, the only known remedy at the time was actually ineffective. It is likely that even with help, she still would have died.

Here is a quote from Von Weren's journal:
"Before my own eyes, her body has gradually withered away, her life's energy slowly draining, as vapors into the air. Color-drained skin wraps what is left of her frail frame. It is called a romantic disease, but I have no love for it. All of her has been consumed by this foul illness as I am left consumed by the grief left in her absence. I, too, shall consume those who have abandoned her to this fate. And theirs will not be peaceful."
I have more from his journal that I will share next time.


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