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Author Topic:   JCK 1897 - The Death of Royal Cowles
Scott Martin
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Posts: 11321
Registered: Apr 93

iconnumber posted 06-05-2018 02:52 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Scott Martin     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
June 9, 1897.
pg. 10

    The Death of Royal Cowles

Royal Cowles, a widely known horological expert and at one time one of the most prominent retail jewelers of Ohio, passed away in New York, Wednesday, at the age of 77 years. Mr. Cowles had been ill but a week and was removed to Roosevelt Hospital, April 30, where after an operation he died of blood poisoning and exhaustion.

Royal Cowles was born in Geiuga County, Ohio, March 24. 1820. and at an early age graduated from Hudson College. From his youth until within a few years ago he was actively connected with the jewelry trade, his choice of vocation being due, perhaps, to an incident early in his career. While still a young lad, Mr. Cowles became interested in watching the labors of a foreign watchmaker who had settled in his native town. The skill, care and exactness displayed by the watchmaker and the intricacy of the mechanism on which lie worked appealed strongly to Mr. Cowles’ young mind and he prevailed upon the watchmaker to instruct him in the craft. From that time onward he never lost interest in horology and the theoretical as well as the practical side of the subject became his life study.

Owing perhaps to this early instruction in the trade, Mr. Cowles’ first position in mercantile life was with N. E. Crittenden, the u ell known jeweler of Cleveland, with whom he completely mastered the trade of watch making and remained as the firm's expert watchmaker for several years. Leaving this position early in the ’50s, he started the firm of Cowles & Albertson, who for many years Mere prominent retail jewelers under the Weddell House, Cleveland.

The firm suspended and the partnership terminated about 30 years ago, and Mr. ComTcs bought out Albertson's interest and continued alone. In 1809 he became a partner of G. B. Miller in the publication of the Horological Review, whose editor he became. After this journal was purchased by and merged into The Jewelers’ Circular, Mi. Cowles continued contributing articles on horology for many years.

About 1882 Mr. Cowles became connected with the Bowler & Burdick Co., Cleveland, 0., with whom he remained about eight years. He then went to New York, and for the past seven years was engaged as an expert for several watch and other companies. He recently started in the real estate business, being at the time of his death a member of the firm of Griffith & Cowles, with offices in the St. Paul building.

Besides contributing many articles on the subject of horology, Mr. Cowles was also known as a clever mechanician and invented many contrivances in general use, among others the catches for laces now found in every pair of laced shoes.

Though a member of no clubs, fraternities or other societies, the deceased was a man of a most sociable temperament and made many and strong friends among those with whom he came into contact. He was married 38 years ago. His widow and one daughter survive him.

The funeral services were held Saturday at his late residence, 312 W. 45th St., New York. The remains were incinerated at the Fresh Pond Crematory.

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Scott Martin
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Scott Martin
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pg 41


(Published in a late number of The Hospital Gazette.)

St. Clairisville, O.. Jan. 5th, 1880.
To the Editor of The Medical Gazette:

Dear Doctor : The remarkable case of the man "Ralph" I reported to your journal not many weeks since, through the wide circulation of the GAZETTE had an extensive notice, and I am rejoiced to inform you, has resulted in his identification and return to his home and friends.

The principal facts obtained since my former report are, as near as I can now recall them, the following:

"Ralph " proves to have been his father's name. His own name is Royal Cowles, of Cleveland, O. He is an old citizen of that city. A jeweler, and for many years carried on one of the leading jewelry establishments of the city. Latterly he was compelled, by financial necessity, to greatly contract his business. This necessity together with some domestic infelicity, is supposed by his friends to have led to the unhinging of his mind. This has thrown some fear of softening of the brain into the case. I have not, apart from this fear, a single doubt of his recovery; there is no hereditary taint present. The friends noticed, for some time prior to his leaving home, spells of this lost state, that has since become continuous. For a short time he would be lost, this they attributed to absentmindedness.

The day he left home, he wrote a note to his friend R. saying, "Be kind to my aged mother, etc., but don't seek to trace me, it will prove useless." The next day he-is smashing in the saloon windows in one of the principal streets of Bellaire city. Following this by an urgent effort to have his case published. It is remarkable this was done in the papers of Bellaire, Wheeling and this county generally and in the Cincinnati Enquirer; and no result was manifest. His friends in C. did not notice the account, and we failed to observe those they published in Cleveland. He continued all through the year to urge on every real effort that was put forth to obtain any clue that might lead to the discovery who he was.

When a gentleman from Nassau street, in your city, was in the St. Nicholas, at Lexington, Ky., he saw my article copied from the Gazette; believing it might refer to his friend that disappeared about that time from Cleveland, he wrote to me directing, if I felt it was worth while, to write to a Mr. Stan ton of C. and he would be able to give further particulars. I did as requested, being impressed with the feeling that we were on the right road. Mr. S. replied, directing me to a Mrs. Goodwin of Sandusky, O., a sister of the lost Cleveland man. A few letters passed between Mrs. G., and myself, resulting in clearly establishing the fact "Ralph" was Mr. Cowles.

I desired the discovery should be kept a secret from Mr. C. until he should be made to meet his friends suddenly and entirely unexpectedly, thereby making as great a shock as possible. This, in my opinion, offered the best prospect of arousing his sleeping memory. Circumstances beyond my power to control prevented this. I soon discovered the name of Cowles recalled no impression of it belonging to him. The knowledge being communicated to him that his identity was discovered rendered him more than ever unhappy. He said, "while I was unknown and unknowing it was not so hard, but now, being no longer unknown, yet remaining still unknowing, I feel very unhappy."

After some further correspondence on last Sabbath week Mr. R., from Cleveland, arrived to remove him home. Mr. R. had entered the store of Mr. Cowles when quite young, and learned the jewelry business. He was thus a most intimate friend of about twenty years' standing. While driving him out to the infirmary, about four miles distant from St. C____, I said to him, that judging by the effects witnessed when his name was repeated, I did not believe he would be able to recognize him. The idea appeared entirely ridiculous to Mr. R. "Not know him; the very idea was absurd." I left Mr. R. a short distance from the infirmary and drove on, for the purpose of getting Ralph out of sight until Mr. R. was in the office. I kept him occupied until I knew Mr. R. had reached the office. I then requested him to return to the office and bring me a certain medicine I named. He walked in unconcernedly, it being nothing unusual for him to thus meet persons in the office, and said, in his usual manner, "Good morning, sir." He went to the medicine case, obtained the remedy I had named as a pretext for getting him into the office. When he was about leaving Mr. Ransom said: "Mr. Cowles, don't you know me?" The question, the face and all failed to produce the slightest impression upon his memory. They then had an hour's talk in private. When that was over Mr. R. confessed I was right, but that the blank was far more extensive and complete than he even ever imagined.

He said: "I have tested him in mode and manner, and to an extent no other could; and had the means to have detected and exposed any assumption of trouble not real, and that the case was undoubtedly as wonderful as had been reported, and he feared, deeper seated than was supposed."

The remarkable feature of the case was in the fact that, intellectually, he could weigh the evidence and clearly perceive he was R. Cowles, but could not in memory realize the truth of what his intellect perceived.

The only objection he made to returning to C -- was, that if he was required to meet persons he should, but did not know, and have to answer all questions, &c, if expected to do this he could not. When, however, assured he would only be asked to meet his own family relations and such others as he wished he left quite willingly.

Just before leaving home he patented a lathe. All the papers were just completed and the invention said by judges to be valuable. He left a nice work-shop, complete set of tools, &c, &c. I hope when placed amongst these again memory will be power fully aroused and gradually restored.

I received a letter yesterday, the first from him since he left us. After speaking of the kindness of his reception, &c, he says, "from the time I left you we kept up an uninterrupted interchange of questions and answers, he telling me all about myself and friends, constantly recalling names and incidents, that gradually seem to be weaving into a web of faint, confused and grotesque recollections. He is constantly bombarding my citadel of forgetfulness with books, papers, "tools, watches, accounts, letters, &c, of mine. * * * My own life, as the main incidents are told me, seems like a distant landscape, enveloped in clouds or mist, which if rolled away would discover clearly a familiar view. I now think there will be only a gradual unfolding, and how much will be left unfolded, is at present a problem." He very justly considers the move to Cleveland the best he could make. In the infirmary there was no person, sound, place or thing to stimulate his memory, in C____, as he very justly re marks: "Everything ought to appeal to it powerfully, and will do so I hope."

Some who have no personal knowledge of the case, others from incorrect impressions, doubt his honesty, believe his mental state is only put on to keep out of sight experience of domestic trouble.

They but poorly estimate the man; no earthly consideration would tempt such a man to forsake family (he has a wife and daughter), business, honor and all, no amount of trouble would ever lead him, make him thus cowardly "hide."

Then, supposing him sane, what "hiding !" Breaking windows in the most public street of a city, is not hiding, then publishing wide cast the fact is not good "hiding." Taking no money, for the fact is he did not, to any important amount, but left money in his drawers in the store. A man as smart as he is naturally, if in his right mind, would not act thus. There is but one explanation of the case, up to this, in the light of all the facts, that is "insanity" in some of its multiplied forms.

In August last he wrote a few words to his daughter, in his own hand writing, put it in such a position that it would be mailed with infirmary letters. The note was, "He had nothing to send his darling daughter on her nth birth day, but the ever-living love of her unhappy papa."

This note he did write, but cannot now remember writing. For several months, from about July and after, he was allowed to eat at superintendent's table, and was made my assistant; he began to improve. Just as when the trouble was coming upon him, so when it begins to leave him there are occasionally moments of partial return to memory. At first he thought he was dreaming, then became conscious of seeing places and things he seemed to know, and for a moment the clouds appeared to be passing away; then all was dark, even darker than before. My intention — had he remained unidentified — was to have had him keep written notes during these momentarily lucid moments. In this way, doubtless, I would soon have found out personal matters relative to him, possibly names of persons and places. It was in one of these moments he wrote that note to his daughter. There are reports circulated that he wrote other letters; these are all incorrect, the one above referred to is all he ever wrote.

The principal reason it is not credited as an honest case is because it is so wonderful. That argument would demolish many most important cases of mental disease—they are all so wonderful.

I am stringing out this letter unreasonably, yet I do not feel I have even half reported it to you. Some time in the future, if spared, I intend writing up the case from a purely medical standpoint. I will send it to you for whatever use you see proper to make of it. I feel you are in justice entitled to the preference in this case.

One strange fact this case has taught me: the great number of persons mysteriously lost, and the slight—very slight evidence—they will hang hope upon. Since you published this case I have received almost a hundred letters, many containing photographs, many containing numerous requests, even to getting picture taken, and not even stamps to pay postage. Of the entire number three were of the name "Ralph."

Yours Respectfully, A. H. Hewetson,MD.

Mr. Cowles is a man of the most name and character. He is highly connected in Cleveland. No personal cause existed leading to this state of mind. Personally he is beyond reproach.

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