It offers a glimpse into the lives
of my ancestors, those pioneers who were a part of America’s
beginnings and who’s descendants blazed the trail from Virginia
to the Oregon Territory
spanning more than eight generations and more than 250 years.
Rhoda A. Derry
the book, A Letter From Aunt Ethel,
is the story of my g-g-aunt Rhoda. I
felt her story stood alone and should be made available to the public. Rhoda,
A Tragic & True Story of a Farmer’s Daughter, is now available at:
D. Doc Derry's Books and Publications Spotlight.
Rhoda was a
granddaughter of Mary “Old Moll” Derry - The
Fortune Teller of the Revolution and was the daughter of my g-g-grandfather and
g-g-grandmother, Jacob and Rachel Derry, and the youngest sister of my
g-grandfather, Basil Derry. She was born
on 10 October 1834 in Indiana, and died 9
October 1906 at the Peoria State Hospital
in Bartonville, Illinois.
true, the story of my g-g-aunt Rhoda, has been a mystery to the Derry family for more than a century. Early research by
family genealogist and family member, Joan Brown Derry, revealed that she lived
in “poorhouses and almshouses” in Qunicy,
Illinois for more than 40 years
and that she was insane. She scratched out her own eyes, punched out her own
teeth, chewed tobacco, ate anything she could get her hands on, and her clothes
had to be tied on her because she would just rip them off.
At age 16
in 1856, she was known to be a beautiful young woman (as described by her
nephew, Levi Slater), and as a teenager in Lima, Illinois,
fell in love with a neighboring farm boy, Charles Phenix. His parents did not
approve of the engagement and that is where Rhoda’s life takes a horrible and