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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Health and Education

An Ossified Man

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Transcript from original newspaper article: -

In a quiet little village on the Western Reserve, in Ohio, says the Prescott Transcript, there lives a man, who physiologically considered, is certainly one of the wonders of the world. His joints are completely ossified, turned to bone, and he is not capable of making the slightest movement, except alternately opening and shutting two fingers of his right hand. His body is as rigid as iron, and it couldn’t be bent forward or backward without breaking some of his bones. This singular process of ossification has been going on in his system for more than twenty years. He is now about forty-six years old, and has not had the use of his limbs, so that he could walk, since he was nineteen. Ossification commenced first in his ankle joints, gradually extending itself through his system until he was entirely helpless; since that time he has been wholly under his mother’s care, and she watches over him with an anxiety which only a mother can feel. When about twenty-five years old, he became entirely blind from some unknown cause, and has remained so ever since. At about thirty he suffered greatly from the toothache, and finally had all his teeth extracted. A year or two afterwards, his finger and toe nails all came off, and were supplied by others, growing out from his fingers and toes at right angles, and presenting the appearance of horns. What is still more singular with regard to his nails, if the end of the nail is cut off, it will bleed freely. Such is the condition of this remarkable man at the present time. He has been visited by a great number of scientific men, from all parts of the world, but all have failed to give any plausible reason of the cause of his transformation from flesh to bone. Singular as it may appear, although his jaw-bone is firmly set in his head, he not only talks freely, but fluently converses with his friends and those who visit him, on all ordinary topics of the day; and he shows himself well informed and of good mind. He is always cheerful, appears contented and happy, and it seems probable that he will live many years to come.