Sunday, June 1, 2008
The "Devil Baby" of Hull House
You may have hrard of Hull House established years ago by Jane Adams for the poor immigrants of Chicago.She was ahead of her times as some say or responsive to the times as other Sociologists may say.I recently saw on Biography channel a very interesting story from the history of that famous endeavor.
As was true in most families of the poverty stricken immigrants alcohol abuse and abuse were rampart among the men.Most wives and children were beaten severely by drunken husbands and fathers.It was not talked about then.
One wife was so afraid of her husband that she did not want to tell him she was pregnant again..He beat her frequently and when she and he could no longer deny a pregnancy she was kicked and beaten until labor began.
The midwife delivered a deformed child she said was bearing the mark of Satan.She ran terrified and began to tell the neighbors..
The poor mother took the child next door to a friendly older woman who sometimes gave her food.The grandson of that next door neighbor said his grandmother said there was a hard appendage rather like an extension of the tailbone growing from above the anus.It was hard and extended about three inches out.The child had almond shaped eyes and may or may not have had a club foot.
In a few days the neighbors were clamoring about the Devil Baby so the mother took him to Hull House.She talked at length with Jane Adams and told her of having little or no food and the terrible beatings that went on.She was afraid her husband would kill her and the new baby.It was agreed that the child would be kept at Hull House as so many of the neighborhood children were safely kept there.
Soon the neighborhood women descended on Hull house demanding to see the baby with the tail and cloven hooves "The Spawn Of Satan"Word had gotten out around the nation so in addition to the masses outside the gate, the phone rang with calls from all parts of the country.Jane Adams took each of the neighborhood women in one at a time and talked with them.That is how as they finally felt more comfortable they disclosed to her the severe abuse within the families.This was thought to be the focus of the need to find some outlet for the intense evil felt and the probable cause of the child's deformity.
It brought about a strong spokesperson for the women and renewed support for Hull House.
It is unclear what happened to the baby.One tale is that Jane Adams took him to the Church.It was said that she made arrangements to have him baptized.She laid the baby on a pew and as the Priest poured the Holy Water in preparation she went to pick up the baby and nothing was there but an empty blanket.
Some say including a prominent psychologist that a black mass not identifiable as male or female but resembling a child that may be seen moving in the upper window at Hull House the only safe haven the boy knew.