Excerpts from The Dayton Herald. Tuesday, March 19, 1895.
Leila Thruston Mead, the ten-year-old daughter of Col. and Mrs. Harry E. Mead died while under Christian Science treatment at the residence of John R. Hatten and his wife at 1068 South Brown Street (now the parking lot of the Old Hickory Restaurant). The girl was given no medicine, only the “science” applied.
On Tuesday, March 19, Dayton’s Police Chief Thomas Farrell had Hatten and his wife arrested on charges of manslaughter pending an autopsy that was held on the body at the vault in Woodland Cemetery by Coroner Lee Corbin.
Dr. Irvin C. Souders who was president of the Dayton Humane Society was appealed to and urged to take action in the case of Leila Mead, both in relation to the treatment which she received at the hands of Mr. and Mrs. Hatten’s Christian Science institution, and to prevent a recurrence of wrong doing by allowing a helpless victim of disease to die without making an effort to preserve life by medical treatment. The society was forced to wait on results of the autopsy and word from the authorities.
Excerpts from The Dayton Herald. Wednesday, March 20, 1895.
The parents of Leila Mead were devout believers in the society but negative public opinion in Dayton reached a fever pitch after the death of this innocent girl.
The Herald was given the following information about Christian Science. Their philosophy is that the body and all its functions and organs are entirely within the control of the mind, and that the cause of illness is directly or indirectly the result of mental actions. To believe that you are ill or in pain is certain to produce the illness or pain, and that bodily states and mental states are the results of moral states. The person who is free from sin is free from disease, and everyone is free from sin who persistently denies the existence of sin in himself or in others.
Col. and Mrs. Harry E. Mead, parents of Leila, and Mrs. Eliza Thruston Houk, grandmother of Leila and widow of the late Hon. George W. Houk were acknowledged leaders of the society in Dayton. Claim was made in many cases of disease, chronic and other, that they had been cured by Christian Science and by the society in Dayton.
Mr. and Mrs. John Hatten fled to Springfield after the death of the child but were apprehended, placed under arrest on the charges of manslaughter and brought back to Dayton. They claimed that they called on the Mead home to “treat” the child but later took her to their own home. No medicine was given and they fed her only beef tea and water. The pair made several attempts to secure bail without success until Mr. and Mrs. Mead, the parents of the dead child, bailed the Hatten’s out of custody for $2,000.
On the morning of March 20th, an autopsy was performed at Woodland Cemetery. Coroner Lee Corbin was present. Doctor Negley conducted the autopsy, assisted by Dr. Dupuy. Dr. Goodhue and two male relatives of the child were present although Dr. Corbin ordered them to leave the room.
The autopsy was sketchy at best. While the abdomen and bowels were examined, they did not open the chest nor examine the lungs or heart. They found no trace of typhoid fever but stated they found the brain to be diseased by tubercular meningitis. In other words, a consumption of the brain. While many doctors believed that people could survive the ailment, others believed it to be incurable. Dr. Corbin was very guarded in his statements and his answers were unsatisfactory to many. Dr. Corbin believed in the diagnosis of tubercular meningitis and said that he thought she would not have had long to live anyways. On the other hand, Dr. Negley said that there were cases on record in which cures had taken effect and added that there was some doubt to the correct original diagnosis. Later Dr. Corbin admitted that the child’s life might have been prolonged had the proper treatment been applied.
Leila Mead is listed as Eliza Mead in Woodland Cemetery records. Her death date is listed as March 1895 and her burial date as April 16, 1895. She is located with the Mead Family in Section 101 Lot 1538.
You can visit the gravesite of Leila Mead and all of the other people on the History, Mystery, Mayhem and Murder Tour at Woodland Cemetery by going to our Tour page and downloading our Woodland Mobile App.
Woodland Cemetery, founded in 1841, is one of the nation’s oldest rural garden cemeteries and a unique cultural, botanical and educational resource in the heart of Dayton, Ohio. It is the final resting place of the Wright Brothers, Erma Bombeck, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Charles F. Kettering, John H. Patterson, Gov. James M. Cox, George P. Huffman, George H. Mead, and Levi and Matilda Stanley, King and Queen of the Gypsy’s and more than 111,000 others who made it great in Dayton.
Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum is located at 118 Woodland Avenue off of Brown Street near the University of Dayton Campus. The Cemetery and Arboretum are open daily from 8 am to 6 pm and until 7 pm during Daylight Saving Time. The Mausoleum is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. For more information, call 937-228-3221 or visit the Woodland Cemetery and Arboretum website.