Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Mystery of Gussie and Julia Lewis

In the Crawford County records at the Georgia State Archives, there is a petition from Zach Lewis to commit Gussie and Julia Lewis to the state asylum as "idiots", dated 23 August 1899.   To do this, the three nearest adult relatives have to sign the petition, which in this case was Zach Lewis and his siblings Mrs. Lizzie Gordon and Joe Lewis.  Zach was the son of Zachariah Lewis, Sr, and his wife Torvesa Nelson.  Lizzie and Joe were his half-siblings, children of Zachariah Lewis Sr and his wife Mary Montcrief.

Zachariah, Sr cannot be the person who brought the petition because he died in 1897.  He was married at least 3 times (possibly 4) and had at least 15 children.   Gussie (male) and Julia, however, do not appear anywhere in that list of children.  They could, of course, have been born after the 1880 census. In that case, though, they would have had to be the children of Sarah Moncreif Lewis who was still alive in 1899.  In that scenario, she would have almost certainly been considered one of the 3 closest adult relatives.  It also seems unlikely that they are Zach's children for the same reason, that in this case their mother would have been one of the three "nearest adult relatives", certainly closer than an aunt or uncle.   So if they were born before 1880, they should have been in that census and if after 1880, their mother should have been included in the paperwork. 

Another oddity (adding to the confusion about their ages)  is that they were committed in August 1899 but do not appear in the 1900 census, either in Crawford County or at the State Asylum at Milledgeville.

As part of the process of commitment, a special jury had to be convened, with at least one medical doctor.  The members of the jury in this case were J.E.L. Johnson MD,  M.P. Riviere, S.J.Spillers, N.P. Spillers, J.H. Irby, E.L. Culverhouse, W.B. Spain, T.J. Stewart, H.C. McAfee, C. F. Hollis, Johnathan Wilder, and J.S. Stephens.   They did find that Gussie and Julia were "idiots" and should be confined in the asylum. 

1 comment:

  1. I wonder if they meant "nearest relative" in the physical sense rather than a kinship sense. Perhaps they were cousins or niece/nephew but their physically closest living relatives were the aforementioned.

    Then again, I know squat sometimes.