Pernicious Anemia

blog-weishan-mathilda
This cabinet card was found in the Pickers Paradise antique mall in Niles, Michigan.  Not only was the sitter identified as Mrs. Tillie Gregory, but the date of May 31, 1895 was also noted.

Mathilda, “Tillie”, spent her childhood years in Canada with her German born parents, Charles and Sophia (nee Shatz) Weishan.   In 1884, just 15 years old, she married Charles B. Gregory in Ogemaw County, Michigan and had a son, Walter, the following year.  It’s unknown how long Charles stuck around, but in 1898 Tillie filed for divorce on the grounds of desertion.  At the time, she was working as a domestic to support herself and and her son.  Soon after the divorce was granted, she married Alfonso Clark, a mechanic and shoe maker, who was 27 years older than her.  However, that union did not last and she married Henry C. Thielecke Jr. in 1906.

Tillie died, aged 45 years, of pernicious anemia, a disease in which the body lacks sufficient vitamin B12 and cannot make healthy red blood cells.  It causes fatique, muscle weakness and stomach upset, among other ailments.  Some suspect that Jane Austen and Mary Todd Lincoln suffered from pernicious anemia.

Sources:
Census records
Michigan marriage records
Michigan divorce records
“What an Affliction”: Mary Todd Lincoln’s Fatal Pernicious Anemia, by John G. Sotos
Jane Austen’s Last Illness, published in the British Medical Journal, 1964

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