MORNINGS ON MAPLE STREET VOLUME TWO

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The Real Dr. Frankenstein, Page One

The Real Dr. Frankenstein

The following articles appeared in the Westphalia Times (Kansas), in 1885 and 1886.

November 12, 1885

M.F. Moore sold his drug store to Knapp & Son, and Dr. Frankenstein will conduct it.

Dec 17, 1885

Dr. Franckinstein showed us Tuesday, pieces of a frog or snake which he removed from one of his lady patients' stomachs. The head, like that of a small snake, was lost through carelessness. The doctor thinks there are more such living creatures in the woman's body, caused by drinking pond water some years ago, when she swallowed some eggs. She has been in poor health some years, doubtless caused by these reptiles being in her body. They can be seen at his drugstore.

December 24, 1885

The doctor informs us his patient is progressing, having discharged great quantities of the remains of dead animals, or animalcule or frogs, lizards, etc.

January 28, 1886

We have been recently attacked in our business and reputations by an old swamp who appends to his name M.D., and occupies the room below our office as a Kansas prohibition barroom - or drugstore. No reason can be assigned for his gall except that we would not smile on him and his iniquitous business. We could not pollute our columns with free advertising of his pretended "practice" that was too nauseating and vulgar to be told even among a tribe of barbarians. It is always disgusting to put the knife into a rotting and decaying carcass, and we very much dislike the talk, but there is a limit to all endurance, a point where silence ceases to be a virtue, and where the truth should be told though the heavens shall fall. Put out your tongue, Sir, and tell us at the last point from which you "skipped" before coming here, and did you not leave between two days at the very urgent request of some very reputable citizens of that locality? Is it true that tar and feathers were already purchased and that some even talked the extravagance of a rope? And did you say the only "case" you ever had here was relieving that woman's stomach of 42 buckets full of remnants of snakes, frogs, etc. And will you further say if you did not hire certain boys here to capture those frogs, snakes, etc., and that you cut and crushed them up to make believe they came from that poor woman's stomach? And did you tell us of what your drugstore consists? Did you answer, "Of a two gallon jug of 40 rod, tanglefoot, mean whiskey that came from Kansas City encased in a box marked ‘medicine,' and also an old truck full of patent medicines now on shelves, the labels and wrappers yellow with age, and most of them bearing date 1857?" Do you verily believe that this is the kind of man who should practice medicine? Fold your tent and silently steal away.

April 25, 1886

Tuesday night about midnight, the citizens in the west part of town were awakened by pistol shots and finding the cause to be the deputy sheriff trying to arrest Dr. Franckenstein. He was arrested some time ago for selling liquor, but skipped out. He returned on the sly and has been selling whiskey and beer from his residence.

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I saw the articles, as transcribed by Dorothy Lickteig, in the Spring 2009 newsletter of the Anderson County (Kansas) Historical Society. I am a member because my paternal great-grandparents lived most of their lives in Anderson County. Ms. Lickteig is the president.

When I read the articles, with great amusement, I didn't know what to think. They looked like the kind of stuff you see in supermarket tabloids: Ghoulish Doctor Collects Animal Body Parts!, or Frankenstein Terrorizes Kansas Town! Maybe it wasn't true, and someone had a grudge against him and wanted to run him out of town. I also wondered if the doctor's name had anything to do with it. After all, Mary Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, had been wildly popular for most of the 19th century. I can imagine the rumors that might pop up if a doctor by that name set up shop in the neighborhood. According to the 1880 census, there was no one living in Kansas with that name, so it might have drawn some attention. But I could not dismiss the articles as simply hysterical nonsense. So I decided to search for information about the doctor, hoping to either confirm his slimy reputation or clear his name.

Tracking down Dr. Frankenstein

joe@sevensteeples.com 

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