Friday, November 8, 2013

The Graham Smyth Family


Tom Campbell, a good neighbor of the Graham Symth family, made the forty mile journey on a mule back to call on John Westbrook.  Mr. Campbell was a miner who took a great chance by leaving his claim behind unattended to seek help from the Reverend Westbrook.  The Smyth family had shown great kindness to the lone Campbell, providing him food among other kind considerations during difficult times.

Mr. Campbell had reported to the Westbrook brothers of a strange illness within the Symth household that had caused a peculiar delirium.  Campbell was asked by Graham's wife Stella to please ride to the Parkertown area to find the Methodist preacher who she'd heard could help in healing people that doctor's were not able to help.

Murdock inquired of Mr Campbell about the signs of the illness.  Campbell could not be specific, only that several members of the family had been taken ill, including the father.  He could not explain much, other than they were not themselves, and no longer of sound mind.  He also stated that Ms. Stella said that a doctor did come by for a visit.  She was told that the illness could not be cured with medicine and was extremely contagious.  Ms. Stella said that the doctor seemed very fearful during his visit and recommended getting word to the horseback preacher that he heard was in Parkertown.

Before leaving the Symth cabin, Tom Campbell had to tie up his friend Graham and his youngest sons in the root cellar.   Campbell said that they recognized who he was and spoke to him, but they were not in their right minds.  It was evident that they were not just afflicted in the head but could cause terrible harm to the rest of the family ~ perhaps the community.  Ms. Stella and the other children in the household were not safe to be left alone with the affected members of the family who had been left wandering around on the premises.  Ms. Stella had locked the sick members out of the cabin in order to protect the rest of the family.

Tom Campbell with the help of other neighbors arrived to assist catching Graham and his two sons, tie them up, and lock them in the root cellar.  A farmer promised that he and one of his black men would watch over the household as Campbell made the trip.  Tom Campbell vowed to Ms. Stella Graham that he'd do his best to bring the healing preacher back.

Both John and Murdock Westbrook left promptly with Tom Campbell.


From the publication: Old Demons in Early America (1920)
-to be continued
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