An Unbalanced Mind

The Van Blarcom family history is largely documented which had given me a really solid head start in my research. Despite that fact, many of the intricacies of specific family members have been lost or buried by time and their lives are generally boiled down to a birth date, a marriage date, births of their children, and their date of death. Though it is good to know when our ancestors existed in time, these small pieces don't even partly satisfy my curiosities and my never-ending quest to 'know' my ancestors better. Picking up small pieces year-after-year can help personify those who came before, but what happens when you find pieces that tell a story that is less than idyllic?

Not too long ago I ran across a short blurb printed in the Sussex Register that stated that my great great grandfather, William Van Blarcom, hung himself at the age of 39 due to an "unbalanced mind caused by illness." I was immediately taken back by learning this and wondered about the circumstances that could cause such an ending. Since speculation is my only path to justification it leaves me feeling uneasy and full of questions. The main question being, why. Why at such a young age would you remove yourself from your young and growing family leaving them to move forward without your love and support?

Looking at the sparse details known about William, it seems he had a manageable life. He was a modest farmer and carried a somewhat prominent name. He married Catherine A. Sutton, who also carried a somewhat prominent name in the northeast. They had 8 children and lived their lives as part of the community neighborly and religiously. So what could be the reason? Well, William could certainly have come down with an illness that "unbalanced his mind". There were terrible illnesses at that time and medical care offered little relief to the afflicted. Also, William had lost his youngest son and namesake a year and a half prior. Though losing young children was more commonplace in the mid-1800s, I'm sure it was never easy for the parents and some deal with tragedy differently than others.

All above reasoning aside, it does make me sad to think my great great grandfather went through something bad enough to end his own life. Though I will continue looking for additional details of his life, unfortunately I'll likely never find any solid facts that will appease my curiosities.