Lapses of Memory

Lapses of Memory

The Strange Mind-Failings of Ansel Bourne of Greene.

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On March 15, 1887, the Journal published a somewhat singular story concerning Ansel Bourne, and was to the effect that on Jan. 18, 1887, he left his home in Coventry, Rhode Island, drove to Greene's station, and boarded a train for Providence, where he drew $550 from bank and started for the residence of his nephew, Andrew Harris, No. 121 Broad street.

He remembered turning the corner of Broad and Dorrance streets, but from that time his mind was a blank until he awoke on the morning of March 14 following, and found that he was in Norristown [Pennsylvania].

Six weeks before that time he arrived in Norristown and rented a small store of Pinkston Earl, at No. 252 East Main street, where he launched out in the toy and notion business. He slept in the rear part of the store nights and appeared to drive a flourishing trade during the day. During all these six weeks, while still in a trance, he visited Philadelphia on business and conducted himself as rationally as the shrewdest merchant.

About 4 o'clock on the morning of March 14, Mr. Bourne awoke and was surprised to find himself in a strange store. He was instantly seized with the fear that he would be mistaken for a burglar. The moment Pinkston Earl's family, who resided in the dwelling over the store, began to stir, he related the particulars of his strange waking, and asked to be informed as to where he was. Mrs. Earl tried to convince him of his whereabouts, but he was as unwilling to believe that he was not in Providence as he was to admit that nearly eight wecks had passed without any knowledge on his part as to what he had done during that period. As the man was very much prostrated, Dr. L.W. Read was summoned. Andrew Harris of Providence went there in response to a telegram and identified Mr. Bourne as his uncle, whom the family had begun to mourn as dead, the supposition being that he had been drowned.

Bourne was unable to recall a single incident since he passed the corner of Broad and Dorrance streets on Jan. 18. Having become stronger under Dr. Read's treatment, Mr. Bourne, in the course of about 10 days, returned to his home accompanied by his nephew.

Recently Mr. Bourne was hypnotized in Boston by Dr. Guy Hinsdale and Prof. James.

It is said that while he was under this influence he recalled or reassumed the character which enters into the above story.

Mr. Harris says that the parties who hypnotized him are of the belief that the occurrence was due to loss of memory.

Mr. Bourne is now at his home in Greene. He is a man 65 years old, and is said to have these lapses of memory, or failure of the mind, though generally he is in good health.

—from The Providence Journal, September 7, 1890.

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