Menopause or/is Insanity

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You never know what you can learn when you watch Oprah. One of her guests was explaining how her experience was making her feeling and react. Oprah calmly stated to her that those symptoms would have gotten her locked up in the insane asylum years ago. As I listened to the topic of menopause and the many different stories of the women experiencing different symptoms I started piecing together what may have happened to Elizabeth McFarland, the wife of George Washington Oakley. I wrote about their story in February of last year in 3 parts, Dead Ancestors Soap Opera. I decided to go back and take a look at what age Elizabeth, “Lizzie,” was when George had her locked up.


Lizzie was 43 years old when she married George in 1881. By 1887, at 49, when George had her committed she must have been full blown into peri menopause. It surprised me when one of George’s daughters by his first marriage stated that she had helped her step-mother pack her bags to go to the hospital. Odd that someone “insane” could calmly pack her things. If Lizzie was having a real time of it with menopause I would assume that George would think her insane, having experienced it myself, she probably felt a bit nuts herself.


I am sure by the time the home got through with her, poor Lizzie was pushed into insanity before her death, when simple hormone replacement would have made her life so much easier. Ten years after her marriage to George, Lizzie left this world. All traces of her, once she had moved into the home, seem to have gone missing; all that is left is her head stone in the cemetery in Machias, New York.



  1. I hadn’t thought about this. I guess I’m very glad I’m going through it now rather than back then.

  2. I’m a real quilt-a-holic and I remember a story about a woman who quilted a lot from the late 1800’s. When she was of the age of the "change", she died all of the quilts she had made black. I wish I could remember her name because the story was so wonderful. Luckily, she had kept a diary so the story was told. Her ‘black’ quilts echoed her feelings. A true artist! She did come out of it and allow color in her world. People pay a lot of money for her quilts now. They were held by her family for a long time. It is truly a pivot point in a woman’s life. I wonder if George visited her or cared at all after she was committed?

  3. HI Sheri, George didn’t visit Lizzie and was even living with another woman who at one point claimed to be his wife before Lizzie died. Later he would marry the third wife, shortly after/before Lizzie died. Interesting story about the quilt lady.

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