The Van Stone Family Curse

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Van Stone
Butt
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Ontario, Canada

One description of Huntington’s chorea is as follows:
Huntington's Chorea is a particularly devastating disease because symptoms normally do not occur until after the age of 35, but can onset later (the earlier the onset, the more severe the disease tends to be). It is principally a movement disorder, with the first observable symptoms manifesting themselves as 'clumsiness', but as the disease progresses the movements become uncontrollable. These movements appear to be very bizarre and include odd bodily postures. Other symptoms are also apparent including forgetfulness and irritability or withdrawing (in the early stages) progressing to dementia with severe memory loss and lack of reasoning.

The illness may continue relentlessly for 10-20 years once it has been diagnosed, and cause of death is commonly heart disease after a bout of illness, or due to falls, choking or suicide before dementia sets in. New advances in medicine may provide hope for patients suffering from this devastating disease in the future. Research and clinical trials are currently underway.

Huntington’s chorea was the curse of the Van Stone family. A newspaper story included with the Van Stone scroll relates the following on the family. For privacy reasons, the original article did not provide names.

A man killed his own child and was sent to an Ontario sanitarium. (The man was John Van Stone, father of Mary Van Stone). Clarke and MacArthur found the man insane from Huntington’s Chorea. They then studied his family history. The man’s grandfather (Samuel Van Stone IV) and his brother came from England and settled in southern Ontario. The brother was sound and remained so and from him no cases of chorea descended. The man “V” developed Huntington’s chorea. Since then the disease has radiated from this focus as far east as the Maritime Provinces, as far west as Manitoba, and as far south as Michigan Illinois, Iowa, Missouri. The investigators got information as to 101 individuals among “V”s family. Of these 101, 83 were blood descendants, the other 18 having married into the family. Of the 83, 37 had developed Huntington’s chorea.

Since the disease does not appear until after 25 and sometimes not until 50, it is impossible to say whether some of the cousins and most of the nieces and nephews will finally escape.

John’s daughter Mary did not escape. She died in Pontiac State Hospital, Pontiac Michigan, of Huntington’s chorea. She was 45. Mary had seven surviving children. All but one of Mary’s children had the great fortune to escape their mother’s fate. Oldest daughter Lucy was not so fortunate. She died of Huntington’s at the age of 52 and passed the disease on to her son Johnson who died of it at the age of 47.

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