Kukla, Jon. A Wilderness So Immense: The Louisiana Purchase and the Destiny of America, (Alfred A, Knopf, New York; 2003.)
The writer of this blog became aware of this source and its small but significant content relative to the relationship between Dr. James O'Fallon and his wife, Frances "Fanny" Eleanor Clark O'Fallon, towards the conclusion of the immediately preceding post. Dr. James O'Fallon was the reported "Surgeon?" on board the frigate South Carolina during its maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean to America from August 4, 1781 to May 29, 1782. The writer of this blog initially felt that this additional information could be included as a foot note somewhere in the overall text of the previous post. But, in reviewing and reflecting on this information, the writer of this blog feels now that this should, of its own nature and content, be a separate post. Not only does this new source, Kukla's work, A Wilderness So Immense, detail the kind of physical and emotional abuse that Dr. James O'Fallon inflicted upon his young wife, "Fanny" Clark O'Fallon, but, also reflects quite a bit on the character of this man as well as the final "confrontation" between himself and George Rogers Clark, the oldest brother of "Fanny" Clark O'Fallon. Also, and more importantly in the opinion of the writer of this blog, this work contains more of the content of the letter that passed between Dr. James O'Fallon and "Fanny" Clark O'Fallon on November 23, 1793. A single work cited in the previous post alluded to this letter but, the above cited work does contain, at least, relevant portions of this letter which passed between the estranged couple -- an older husband and a much younger wife.
According to Kukla's work, A Wilderness So Immense, page 167, during the summer of 1793:
"... while O'Fallon was in Lexington tending to his medical practice and political career, Fanny had stayed with her parents, John and Ann Rogers Clark, at Mulberry Hill, just south of Louisville. There she began to see apparitions, pacing the floor at night, and suffering violent fits. She was 'so fearfull that she not be by hir [her] self', her father wrote. 'Hir [Her] mother [is] obliged to lay with hir [her] every night.'."
Kukla's work, page 167, points out that the family's diagnosis of Fanny's condition was "...depression or nervous breakdown to the prospect of moving to Lexington, where [Dr. James] O'Fallon anticipated a more profitable medical practice."
The writer of this blog is sure that these random, erratic, and unexplainable actions of Fanny must have distressed and depressed her father, John Clark. Several other sources utilized in previous posts relating to the marriage of Dr. James O'Fallon and Fanny Clark O'Fallon have pointed out that Fanny was a favorite of the family and only eighteen years old when she married Dr. O'Fallon on February 21, 1791. By the summer of 1793, she and Dr. O'Fallon had been married for almost two and one-half years. John Clark must have closely watched his daughter as she stayed at Mulberry Hill for the summer of 1793. Kukla's work, page 167, states that he said:
"Hearing you ware [were] to settle in Lexington -- I expe[c]t it sunk hir [her] sperets [spirits], ... She agread [agreed] you might get more money in Lexington then [than] hear [here] but not Live so happy ... she had a grate [great] deal Ruther [rather] go to hir [her] Grave then [than] to Lexington ... [and] much Rither [rather] die near hir [her] friends then [than] far off. [Fanny had] kept hir [her] Complaint in hir [her] own Breast ... hir [her] Heart was Brock [broke] ... [and] it was not in our power to Releave [relieve] her."
Again, according to Kukla's work, A Wilderness So Immense, page 167, "...as many battered spouses do, Fanny Clark O'Fallon hid the fact of husband's abuse from her family and friends, worrying that 'she would be Blam[e]d' if she failed to accompany him to Lexington, and saying only that 'no one knew what she suf[fere]d.'."
Evidently, at one point during the summer of 1793, Dr. James O'Fallon came to spend some time with his young wife and her family at Mulberry Hill, just outside Louisville, Kentucky. According to Kukla's work, page 167, it was at this time that the family was made aware of the torments and abuses that Fanny was suffering at the hands of her husband, Dr. James O'Fallon. This revelation seems to have come during one of Fanny's nocturnal pacings while Dr. O'Fallon was asleep upstairs. Again, according to Kukla's work, pages 167-168, Fanny described that at night, once they were in bed, Dr. O'Fallon would bite her "...with his teeth..." and pinch her until she would leave the bed to which he would refuse to allow her to return. According to Kukla's work, page 168, friends in the immediate neighborhood and family members had seen unexplainable bruises and marks on Fanny's body from time to time, further corroborating this disclosure of abuse. These revelations to her parents brought a swift and definite response from her father, John Clark. According to Kukla's work, page 167, in his letter of November 23, 1793 to Fanny Clark O'Fallon, Dr. James O'Fallon would remember how "...your [Fanny's] father coming up stairs, into our room, said, Fanny come away, you shall never sleep with the Rascal again, and so, instantly, turned me out of doors.". In this same letter, Dr. O'Fallon would deny ever having bitten or pinched Fanny, even though in the letter he was addressing the very individual upon whom he had heaped these indignities.
As if personally experiencing the indignation of John Clark, Fanny's father, was bad enough for Dr. James O'Fallon, he still had to deal with the anger and vengeful spirit of her older brother, George Rogers Clark. These were swift to come and took more than the form of a physical confrontation. According to Kukla's work, A Wilderness So Immense, page 168, in the letter that Dr. James O'Fallon wrote to Fanny Clark O'Fallon on November 23, 1793, he stated that:
"Your Brother George is said by 20 witnesses to have asserted in various places...that I was a Rogue, Rascal and Villain...that I attempted to poison my son, Johnny [John Julius O'Fallon]; that I would poison...any family if they took my medicines...that the house and bed stunck [stunk] where I had slept...and that I had murdered my former wife.".
(Note: In all the posts concerning Dr. James O'Fallon, Surgeon on board the frigate South Carolina during the American Revolution, this is the very first, and only, reference to James O'Fallon being married prior to his marriage to Frances "Fanny" Eleanor Clark O'Fallon on February 21, 1791. None of the other sources even mention this earlier marriage, either directly or indirectly. This may have been an exaggeration of George Rogers Clark attempting to besmirch as much as possible the character and motives of Dr. James O'Fallon, now the estranged husband of his younger sister and family favorite.)
This was followed at some point in time by the episode of the physical brawl that supposedly took place between George Rogers Clark, the enraged older brother protecting the honor of his younger sister, and Dr. James O'Fallon, the estranged husband and offending party in this situation. According to Kukla's work, page 168, Dr. James O'Fallon painted a picture of himself having physically bested the brawn of Clark in the same letter to Fanny Clark O'Fallon in these words:
"[George Rogers Clark]...provoked me without cause and he suffered for it. He attempted to strike me but before the blows could reach, he lay sprawling on the floor, from blows which heavily reached him.".
Contradictory words concerning this physical altercation came not from the flourishing pen or braggadocious words of George Rogers Clark but, rather from Spanish sources in the Mississippi River Valley area. Manuel Gayoso in Natchez, MS wrote a letter to the newly-appointed Spanish Governor in New Orleans, Francois-Louis Hector, Baron de Carondelet in which Gayoso described what he had heard of this "parting of the ways" between George Rogers Clark and Dr. James O'Fallon. According to Kukla's work, A Wilderness So Immense, page 168, Gayoso wrote to Carondelet:
"O'Fallon has parted with his wife, who has withdrawn to the house of [George Rogers] Clark, her brother, and he [Clark], in resentment of this offense has maltreated O'Fallon, even going so far as to break his stick over his [O'Fallon's] head, inflicting injuries from which he [O'Fallon] had not yet recovered.".
In the opinion of the writer of this blog, this latter version is probably closer to the truth of the matter than the former one. The explanation of this argument is summarized so succinctly and clearly in Kukla's work, A Wilderness So Immense, page 168, the writer of this blog will quote it in full here:
"Hard times may have been forced upon George Rogers Clark, but he was a Virginian, an officer, and a gentleman -- and [Dr. James] O'Fallon was 'a Rogue, Rascal and Villain', and an Irishman to boot. Gentlemen settled their differences on the field of honor, but a caning -- a thorough beating about the head and shoulders with a stout hickory stick often resulting in serious injury and utter humiliation -- was the way gentlemen chastised men of inferior status. James O'Fallon was dead at forty-five within months of his encounter with the cane of George Rogers Clark.".
George Rogers Clark was all he was said to be in the first sentence of the above paragraph -- "...a Virginian, an officer, and a gentleman...". He was also the famous Revolutionary War hero of Kentucky and the war in the West against British-incited Native peoples, bent on driving out the white interlopers. His family had settled in Kentucky after the conclusion of the American Revolution and had prospered and grown wealthy and respected among the elite of society that developed there. Yet, Dr. James O'Fallon had caused trouble wherever he had resided, earlier in South Carolina and later in Kentucky, was an immigrant from Ireland, had grandiose plans of a rather devious nature, and had mistreated his wife, a member of the fairer sex who happened to be the younger sister of George Rogers Clark. Whether or not he was a "social inferior" to Clark may not be the issue here. What may be the real crux of the issue is how he was viewed by the elite and powerful of Kentucky society once his "misdeeds" against members of a well-respected and prosperous family became generally known among the Kentucky elite of the post-Revolutionary War period.
If all that has been written and recorded in these five posts on Dr. James O'Fallon prove to be correct, it would be interesting to determine how long after this phsical altercation with George Rogers Clark that Dr. James O'Fallon may have effected his own "disappearance" from the American scene of action and moved across the Mississippi River into Spanish territory to end his days there. He certainly was dead not long afterwards, at the very least before the beginning of 1795. Frances "Fanny" Eleanor Clark O'Fallon would go on to marry twice more and would eventually die at the age of fifty-six years old, after having outlived all three of her husbands. Her two sons by Dr. James O'Fallon, John Julius O'Fallon and Benjamin O'Fallon, would grow up and become well-known and contributing members to society. Both of them would settle in the newly-acquired Missouri territory and live out their days there. As far as we know, neither of them had any memories of their biological father, Dr. James O'Fallon, Surgeon(?) on board the frigate South Carolina. Fin...