Tales from the Morgue: Pioneer driven insane

2012-09-12T10:15:00Z Tales from the Morgue: Pioneer driven insaneJohanna Eubank, Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 12, 2012 10:15 am  • 

The old pioneer had a reputation for honesty and a kind heart, and he had a storied past. He had made and lost a fortune. But now the man was considered insane and a danger to those around him.

He survived many perils traveling about the country and recovered from numerous hurts, only to be driven insane after spending almost a week without food and water. Many would say he was fortunate not to have died, but is insanity any better?

From the Arizona Daily Star, Aug. 30, 1910:

 

 

PIONEER DRIVEN INSANE BY HARD EXPERIENCE
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Has Murder Mania and is Considered Dangerous to His Associates—Once Worth a Big Fortune.
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GLOBE, Ariz., Aug. 29.— Dangerously insane and suffering many strange delusions, precipitated by a terrible experience some months ago when he spent almost a week in his cabin near Livingston, without either food or water, Peter Ingram, one of he best known and most highly respected of Arizona's pioneers, was yesterday ordered committed to the territorial asylum. He was judged insane after a short hearing before Probate Judge J. W. Wentworth.

Ingram, who has been an inmate of the county hospital since he was found in a starving condition last November, has within the past three months been possessed of almost every hallucination imaginable and has grown worse at such a rapid rate that is no longer considered safe to allow him to retain his liberty.

According to the testimony of the hospital officials and several inmates Ingram has on several occasions threatened to kill various men, towards whom he had formed an insane dislike. The unfortunate man threatened to kill John Bolton several days ago and was only kept from carrying out his threat by Bolton, who knocked an iron pipe from his hands with a crutch. Ingram was attempting at the time to brain Bolton, who is not able to stand without the use of crutches.

At the time he reported to the hospital he told officials that he had been kicked in the chest by a vicious horse and that he expected to die. At still another time he imagined that he had been shot by a Mexican whom he could not identify. Various inmates of the institution have been threatened with death by the insane man and only quick work on their part has prevented the threats from being carried out.

The authorities have encountered much trouble with Ingram who has repeatedly attempted to wander about the grounds scantily clad, and when locked up has proceeded to kick out several windows in order that he might escape. He is also possessed of the delusion that he is the owner of many valuable claims which can be converted into a vast amount of money.

Ingram was a "forty-niner," having crossed the plains in an ox cart in company with Henry Armer from Ohio in 1849. He encountered many vicissitudes and bears the scars of many battles. While crossing the plains he was attacked by Indian with the result that he was shot several times, but eventually entirely recovered from the wounds. Armer, at the same time is said to have received seven arrows in his body and when he died about a year ago at Livingstone still carried an Indian arrow head imbedded in the fleshy part of his thigh.

After reaching California, Ingram settled near the Shasta mountains where he took up his occupation as a millright. He is said to have made much money and was at one time able to draw a check for as much as $150,000. Troubles which involved his brother who was accused of stealing horses from the government swept away much of his fortune and later difficulties left him practically penniless. Ingram is said to have spent more then $40,000 in clearing his brother from charges preferred against him by the federal government.

At the outbreak of the civil war Ingram enlisted as a volunteer under General U. S. Grant and served during the major portion of hostilities. About thirty-five years ago he came to Arizona where he again took up his trade as a millwright, but he never succeeded in recouping his vanished fortune, and was the owner of various ranches. Not succeeding in the cattle business he took up prospecting and mining, which he followed until old age brought him as an inmate to the county hospital.

Much sorrow has been expressed by friends of the unfortunate man at the condition of his infirmities. He has always been known as one of the best hearted pioneers of this section and has a reputation for honesty which covers the territory. He is thought to be 88 years of age.

 

The Morgue Lady reports to StarNet's John Bolton, but she is sure he is not the man threatened by Mr. Ingram. He is much too young. (There are many people who would like to hear such a comment about themselves. We are much too young.)

It is always sad when any man, especially one who seems to have been as well-respected and liked as Mr. Ingram, is no longer himself and is a danger to others.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About this blog

"Tales from the Morgue" is a way for the Star to share stories from the treasure trove of information held in its old files.

Johanna Eubank, aka the Morgue Lady, was a research assistant in the Star Library — also known as News and Research Services — for 18 years before becoming an online content producer. She has had her share of sneezing fits after digging into dusty old files, so she's sure to find a few old stories to re-examine.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about this blog, e-mail jeubank@tucson.com

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