Sleeping Beauty’s story to be told

Sleeping Beauty’s story to be told
Sleeping Beauty’s story to be told | Discovery Park of America, Obion County's Sleeping Beauty
By GLENDA CAUDLE
Special Features Editor
Susan Caroline Godsey — Obion County’s very own Sleeping Beauty — was 8 years old in the decade of the 1840s. At that time, Obion County represented “the frontier” of a young nation in many ways, and the child’s family most likely lived in a simple dwelling, much like the cabin that will be used to highlight her unusual story at Discovery Park of America.
Two separate accounts of the life of Susie Godsey are included in a short book on the subject, written by former Obion County historian R.C. Forrester. Some details differ, such as her date of birth, but the narratives are in agreement on the medical details of her life.
The child was the middle of three siblings born to Lacy and Julia Godsey. The family moved to Obion County sometime before Susie’s 8th birthday and settled in the Crystal community in humble circumstances.
Her mystery illness began simply enough — a case of the chills. The condition persisted until she was 10 years old, when she was “dosed” with some mystery concoctions prescribed by a Dr. Wasson from Middle Tennessee, who was later described as a “quack.”
A day later, her small body fell victim to repeated violent convulsions and terrible cramping spells. These continued daily for three years, and at midnight of every day, Susie would vomit blood.
The convulsions finally ceased, but, in their wake, Susie fell into a coma, almost as though her young body was exhausted and trying to recover from the daily violent assault it had undergone.
During the period when she was “asleep,” it was reported that there was no sign of life — not even a slight blur of moisture when a mirror was held to her nose and mouth.
She would wake at 6 a.m. and noon each day, and then again at 3 p.m. and sunset. At night, she was again alert at 9 and 11. The only variation in this daily schedule would occur on Wednesdays, when she would awaken at 10 a.m. The vomiting of blood and cramping continued each evening.
She never remained awake longer than 5-10 minutes at a time. Her condition puzzled doctors all over the country and even in Europe, where a French physician offered help, to no avail.
None of the men of science were able to effect a cure and Susie died in her sleep at the age of 37 on Oct. 27, 1873.
The story of Obion County’s Sleeping Beauty will be told on a self-guided tour through a cabin donated to Discovery Park of America by the Eddie Hicks family of Fulton.
Visitors will step into a specially created dream-like setting at the cabin and will be able to feel themselves in something akin to the world in which the child and young woman lay for years. Sleeping Beauty will appear to be lying on her bed as visitors pass through the single room on ground level, where the fireplace and a single light source will provide the only illumination.
The cabin’s loft area will include a display of childhood memories that would have been common to boys and girls in the area at that time.
The Forrester book, including the details as revealed by two witnesses who provided accounts, will be for sale at the DPA gift shop.
Discovery Park of America is a 50-acre, multi-million dollar entertainment and education complex under construction on Union City’s northwest side. A spokesman said the area will be open in the fall of 2013.
Published in The Messenger 4.19.13

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