THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF A LUNATIC WHO DIED IN THE “SUNNING INSANE ASYLUM” IN ILLINOIS, U.S.A.
My right to live, being but life estate, is not at my dis-
posal, but these things expected, all else in the world I now
proceed to devise and bequeath !
I give good fathers and mothers in trust for their
children all little words of praise and encouragement, and all
endearments ; and I charge the said parents to use them
generously as the needs of the children require.
I leave the children for the term of their childhood, the
flowers, fields, blossoms, and woods, with the rights to play
among them freely, warning them at the same time against
thistles and thorns.
I devise to the children the banks, the brooks, and the
golden sands beneath the waters therof, and the white
clouds that float high over the giant trees, and I leave to the
children long, long days to be merry in, and the night and the
moon and the train of the Milky Way to wonder at.
I devise to the boys all the idle fields and the pleasant
waters and the streams where one may fish, to have and hold
for the period of their boyhood. The meadows, with the
clover, blossoms and butterflies therof, the woods and all
their appurenances, squirrels, birds, echoes and strange
noises, all the distant places which may be visited, together
with the adventures there found. I give to the said boys
each his own place by the fireside at night, with the pic-
tures that may be seen in the burning wood, to enjoy without
let or hindrance or without any incumbrance or care.
To lovers I devise their imaginary world with whatever
they may need, as stars, sky, red roses by the wall, the bloom
of the hawthorn, the sweet strain of the music and the aught else
they may desire.
To young men I give disdain of weakness and undaunted
confidence in their own strength. I give them power to
make everlasting friendships, and gay companions, and to
them exclusively I give all merry songs and brave choruses.
as to those who are no longer children or youths or lovers
I leave Memory, and bequeath them the volumes of the
poems of Burns, Shakespeare, and the poets, and to live
over their old days again without tithe.
To the loved ones with ivory crowns I bequeath happiness,
old age, the love and gratitude of their children until they shall
Published: 1925 – Varia: A Miscellany of Verse & Prose Ancient & Modern
Compiled and Annoted by: Eleanore M. Brougham
Sunning Insane Asylum (Illinois Asylum for the Insane) is located near Peoria, in the small town of Bartonville. It was originally built in 1897, atop an abandoned coal mine (according to legend) – causing the underlying structural issues. It was stated the medieval castle’s style wasn’t suitable for the treatment of the insane and was the reasoning behind the demolition of the building – not the mine itself.
The asylum was rebuilt by 1902, fashioned into cottage-like buildings instead of one, large structure. When reopened, the asylum was under the direction of Dr. George Zeller. It is said a gravedigger by the name of Manuel A. Bookbinder often stood next to a large elm tree as services for patients – most without families – took place. Bookbinder would sob mournfully, often not knowing the resident of Sunning Asylum being buried.
– altered by Hystoria