Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Mental Illness in the Family, Part I

Too often hushed, mental illness takes its toll on families. Ours was one. My grandfather’s brother, Daniel Clark Troutman, suffered from mental illness. At about age 48, he started “periods of manic rage” such as his mother had exhibited, though more severe than hers.[1] He spent most of the last thirteen years of his life in a mental institution.[2] That’s probably part of the reason my father never talked about him; maybe Dad never even met him. By 1936 when Dad first came to Virginia, his Uncle Dan was hospitalized.[3]

The early and middle years of Dan’s life seem to have been pleasant enough. On 27 September 1882, Dan’s birth expanded the Daniel A. and America (Pratt) Troutman household to four living children.[4] After the losses of Clifton, and Mary Ellen, in 1879 and Bessie in 1880, the arrival of additional children may have been a comfort. Dan’s three living siblings were Laura Estelle “Stelle,” age 12, and John W. “Bud,” age ten, and James or “Jim,” age two. Dan grew to be the tallest of the 
Troutman brothers, though his exact height is uncertain; he had dark brown hair and blue eyes.[5] Like most of the Troutman children, he probably never finished high school.[6]

Dan C. Troutman at about age 20.
Like his father and brothers, Dan became a farmer.[7] At the age of 24, he married Carrie Cosby Sexton, 2 September 1906. Carrie, born 19 July 1880 was a daughter of Thomas Sexton and Fannie (Cosby) Sexton.[8]  

Carrie was captivated by handsome Dan who loved to sing and play a banjo. His musical abilities included directing the choir at the Presbyterian Church where they later lived in Glade Spring.[9] A baby daughter was born to Carrie and Dan on 27 September 1907, a little more than a year after their marriage. They named her Warrington Catlett,[10] a strange name for a small girl. She was their only known birth child.  

Dan and Carrie Troutman and daughter Warrington, c. 1918.
The marriage may have had its challenges, for in 1910, Dan and Carrie seem to have been living apart. Both are recorded in the census in the homes of their respective parents.[11] Or perhaps the day the census taker rode by on his horse, Dan just happened to be home helping his aging father with his farm work, and Carrie had taken Warrington to visit the baby's maternal grandparents. 

By 1920,[12] Dan and Carrie had bought a place at Glade Spring, where they also lived in 1930. [13]

Dan C. Troutman home, Glade Spring, VA, c. 1925.
Meanwhile, Warrington wanted a sister. She had been begging her parents for a baby sister, which they could not provide, so they decided to adopt. During a visit to a nearby orphanage, they fell in love with an eighteen-month-old blonde, blue-eyed little charmer named Lois Marie Bethel whose parents, Walter and Elsie Bethel, had both died within a year of her birth.[14] Despite having several older siblings and aunts and uncles, Lois and her brother and sister were placed in an orphanage and taken into separate foster homes.[15] Lois was all that Warrington, Carrie, and Daniel wanted. They doted on her.

Dan C. Troutman family: Warrington, Carrie, Dan, and Lois, c. 1928.
Dan C. Troutman and daughters, Warrington and Lois, c. 1932.
Although Lois' maternal aunts objected to her being fully adopted, Lois felt loved and cherished by the Troutmans as much as any biological child.[16] She also learned to love her Grandma “Merkie,” Dan’s mother America, who lived in his home during her last years. Shortly after his mother’s death in 1929,[17]Dan started shutting himself into his room for weeks at time.
Dan C. Troutman on his front porch, Glade Spring, Va., c. 1932.

[1] Lois Faris, Glade Spring, Virginia, to Zola Noble, 15 August 2008, letter, information on life as a foster daughter in the Dan C. Troutman home; Lois Faris file, Troutman family; privately held, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE] Anderson, Indiana.
[2]1940 U. S. census, Marion, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, Southwest Virginia Hospital (Insane), enumeration district 87-4, sheet 12A, visit no. 904, Sam [Dan] C. Trautman; digital image ( ; accessed 9 September 2015); NARA microfilm publication T-627, roll 4295. Census states that this was also his place of residence in 1935; his death certificate states that he died in the state hospital in 1948; therefore, he was there for thirteen years, at least. Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2013, digital image ( ; accessed 9 September 2015).
[3] 1940 U. S. census, Marion, Smyth Co., Va., Southwest Virginia Hospital (Insane), pop. sch., ED 87-4, sheet 12-A, no. 904, Sam C. Trautman [Dan C. Troutman]. Census notes that he lived in the “same house” in 1935.
[4] “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images (http://www. : accessed 9 September 2015), card for Daniel Clark Troutman, serial number 3142, Local Draft Board, Washington County, Virginia.
[5] Ibid. This draft card states that Dan is “Tall”; draft cards for his brothers, Clint, Lee Roy, and James, state either medium height (Clint and Lee Roy) or short (James). The oldest brother John W. Troutman never lived long enough to have his height recorded on a draft card, so it is unknown.
[6] His level of education recorded in the 1940 census cited above, instead of a number for grades completed, states “fair”; the meaning of that is unclear.
[7] For occupation, see 1940 U. S. census, Marion, Smyth Co., Va., pop. sched., Southwest Virginia Hospital (Insane), ED 87-4, sheet 12A, no. 904, Sam [Dan] C. Trautman. Also, 1920 U. S. census, Glade Spring, Washington Co., Va., population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 147, p. 5-A, dwelling 106, family 106, Daniel C. Troutman; digital image ( : accessed 9 September 2015); NARA mic. pub. T625, roll 1917.
[8] Smyth County, Virginia, Register of Marriage, Book 1: 132, Daniel C. Troutman and Carrie A. Sexton, 1906; County Clerk’s Office, Marion. This record also states Dan’s occupation as farmer.
[9] Lois Faris, Glade Spring, Va., to Zola Noble, 15 August 2008, letter.
[10] Virginia, Birth Certificates, 1864-2014, Warrington Catlett Troutman, digital image ( ; accessed 9 September 2015).
[11] For Dan: 1910 U. S. census, Ellendale precinct, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 89, p. 1-B, dwelling 14, family 14, Daniel Troutman family, see Daniel Jr.; digital image ( : accessed 9 September 2015); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1649. For Carrie: 1910 U. S. census, Chatham Hill precinct, Smyth County, Virginia, population schedule, enumeration district [ED] 90, p. 10-B, dwelling 178, family 178, Fannie C. Sexton family, see Carry Troutman, digital image ( : accessed 9 September 2015); NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1649.
[12] 1920 U. S. census, Glade Spring, Washington Co., Va., pop. sched., ED 147, p. 5-A, dwell. 106, fam. 106, Daniel C. Troutman.
[13] 1930 U. S. census, Washington County, Virginia, population schedule, Glade Spring district, enumeration district [ED] 96-4, sheet 5-B, dwelling 107, family 112, Daniel C. Troutman; digital image ( : accessed 9 September 2015); NARA microfilm publication T626, roll 2463.
[14] Lois Faris, Glade Spring, Virginia, to Zola Noble, 15 August 2008, letter.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Ibid. 
[17] Virginia, Death Records, 1912-2013, America Ann Troutman, digital image, ( : accessed 18 September 2015).

© 2015, Z. T. Noble


Tuesday, September 8, 2015

D. A. Troutman's Final Years, 1910-1918 (and one more).

A few blog posts ago, I left my paternal great-grandparents Daniel Absolum and America Ann (Pratt) Troutman in 1910 and wandered off on tangents with a couple of their children. Their firstborn son, John William “Bub” Troutman had died that year at age 37 leaving a pregnant widow and five children. What happened to Bud’s widow, Jennie, involved another son, James Henry “Jim” Troutman. And of course I had to write about Jim’s life.

No doubt, Daniel and America grieved over the sudden loss of their son Bud, who had come home from work on a Thursday, feeling well, ate a good meal his wife Jennie had prepared, and laughed with his children. About 11:00 p.m., he began to feel ill. During the next five days, the best efforts of the doctor and Bud’s wife came to no avail, and Bud succumbed to pneumonia on Tuesday, 20 December 1910.[1]

No doubt, they were none too happy about their son Jim’s affair with Jennie and his attempted cover up.

As the drama in the lives of their busy adult children was unfolding, life went on in Daniel and America’s little home tucked away down a long, narrow, dirt lane winding through the valley and up the mountain. Daniel continued farming as much has his age would allow and with the aid of his son Roy. America continued housekeeping, quilt making, and caring for ailing neighbors. Soon she would be caring for her own son, Roy.

Daniel A. Troutman and his horse, c. 1910.
No doubt, during the next few years of the decade between 1910 and 1920, Daniel and America helped Jennie and her children as best they could. During that time, their granddaughter, Glenna, Bud’s nine-year-old daughter, was suddenly stricken with spinal meningitis and died on 21 April 1915.[2]

Three years later, on 21 March 1918, Daniel succumbed to apparent heart failure at the age of 82 at his home.[3] His obituary called him “one of Smyth Counties oldest and most respected citizens,” and noted his service “in defense of the Southland.” Both the pastor of the Methodist Church, of which he was a member, and the pastor of the Rich Valley Presbyterian Church preached his funeral.[4]

According to John Orr, current owner of the former Troutman property, his mother remembered D. A. Troutman’s death. She was a little girl, and she recalled going to the wake with her parents. In her limited experience, she had seen dead horses being dragged to a burying place, so she told a friend she had come to see “Old Man Troutman dragged to the cemetery.”[5] Apparently, she had not had much experience with human deaths.

Portrait of Daniel Absolum Troutman, c. 1905.

Daniel Troutman's funeral card.
Daniel’s granddaughter, Neville Troutman, who was about eight years old at the time of her grandfather’s death, remembered taking the news to her father Clint, who was working in the field on their farm in Nebraska. “It was the first time I saw my father cry,” she said.[6]

The next year, on 18 October, Daniel and America’s youngest son, Lee Roy, a slender, handsome young man with grey eyes and black hair,[7] succumbed to consumption at age 28.[8] Until his illness, Roy had been farming with his father and his brother Jim.[9] He had been ill for at least two and a half years.[10] On 1 September 1918, Roy had been accepted into the Presbyterian Church in absentia, as “his infirmities preclude his attendance upon the services of the sanctuary.” The pastor had gone to the Troutman home and baptized Roy there.[11]
Lee Roy Troutman's WWI draft registration card, side 1.

Lee Roy Troutman's WWI draft registration card, side 2.

Lee Roy Troutman, c. 1905.
Great-grandmother, America, faced the next decade with five living children out of ten she had birthed. Estelle, Clint, and Daisy and their families had moved to Nebraska. Only Jim and Dan still lived in Virginia. [12]  She chose to live her final years with Dan.

[1] Smyth-Bland Regional Library, digital collections ( : accessed 26 August 2015); Smyth-Bland Regional Library > S-B Digital Collections > Newspapers > Smyth County Newspapers > Search term: Troutman; Marion News, 20 Jan. 1911, p. 1, col. 5, “In Memoriam, William H. Troutman.” Note that the name as published is incorrect; it should be John William Troutman. Although no other family members are named in the obituary, other details identify this as the obituary of John William Troutman: nickname “Bud,” survived by wife and five children, location of home, date of death, etc.
[2] Virginia Death Records, 1912-2014, database, ( : accessed 25 August 2015), entry for Glenna Virginia Troutman, 21 April 1915.
[3] Rich Valley Presbyterian Church Cemetery (Smyth County, Virginia); Daniel A. Troutman, marker; photographed August 2004 by the researcher.
[4] “Obituary,” clipped from an unknown Wayne County, Nebraska newspaper, which quotes an obituary from an unknown Smyth County, Virginia newspaper. Handwritten copy made by Mary Troutman, daughter-in-law of the deceased, which is in the author’s possession.
[5] Conversation between John Orr and the author at his home, Rich Valley, Virginia, 6 April 2014.
[6] Letter from Neville Lamson, Pierce, Nebraska, to Zola Noble, Anderson, Indiana, not dated.
[7] “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” images (http://www., accessed 8 September 2015), card for Lee Roy Troutman, serial number 1426, Local Draft Board, Smyth County, Virginia.
[8] Rich Valley Presbyterian Church Cemetery (Smyth County, Virginia); Lee Roy Troutman, marker; photographed August 2004 by the researcher.
[9] “U. S. World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918,” Lee Roy Troutman, serial no. 1426, Local Draft Board, Smyth Co., Va.
[10] Ibid. On his draft registration dated April 1917, he claims exemption because of “ill health.”
[11] Rich Valley Presbyterian Church (Saltville, Virginia), “Minutes of Session, Vol. 4,” 1 April 1918 - unspecified, page 6, entry 1 September 1918; photocopy in possession of author, from original stored at the church.
[12] “Obituary,” names the surviving children and the places they lived.

© 2015, Z. T. Noble