I Wish You Abundant Reward
The Life of Dr. Orpheus Everts, Surgeon – 20th Indiana
Dr. Linda Sundquist-Nassie
A two-part series originally published in December 2014 in the Surgeon’s Call, Volume 19, No. 2 and June 2015 in the Surgeon’s Call, Volume 20, No. 1
The day after Christmas 1826, Dr. Sylvanus Everts delivered his fourth child by his second wife, Elizabeth; a son whom he named Orpheus. As the physician in the small community neighboring Salem Meeting House in Union County, IN, Dr. Everts was a vital addition to the area. The son of an American Revolutionary patriot and a descendant of Miles Standish,1 Sylvanus had arrived in the area several years prior, in search of affordable land for his family. The self-educated physician provided medical services for everyone in the largely Quaker community. A much-beloved physician, residents supported Dr. Everts and his family primarily with harvest from their farms and merchandise from their stores as payment for his services. When Elizabeth’s best friend went into labor two years earlier in 1824, Elizabeth and her husband arrived at the Everts’ home and Dr. Everts delivered the baby boy. The couple honored Dr. Everts by naming their newborn son after Dr. Everts’ own child, Ambrose Everts, who had died in infancy. Thus, the son was named Ambrose Everts Burnside.2 The two families remained close for many years, and the historical tie between the Burnside family and the Everts family would weave together once again decades later when General Burnside and Orpheus found themselves together on the field of battle at Fredericksburg.
Dr. Sylvanus and his second wife, Elizabeth, had three more children after Orpheus. Their four sons who survived to adulthood all became physicians.
As Orpheus grew, he showed much aptitude for mechanical skills and architectural talent. Wanting to pursue such an education, his father balked and insisted that Orpheus study medicine.3 Much of Orpheus’ initial tutorial was at the side of his father, making rounds, seeing the patients in the community, and learning medicine through an informal internship. Patients warmed to the young man – often referring to him as a giant due to his large 6’2”, 216 pound frame, which contrasted with his gentle and caring demeanor.4
In 1843, Orpheus turned 17 and traveled to St. Charles, IL, to formally begin a study of medicine. He became one of the 15 – 20 students privileged to be accepted to Franklin Medical School, the first medical college in Illinois, to study under its director, Dr. George Washington Richards.5 Upon arriving and meeting his fellow classmates, Orpheus was introduced to Robert I. Thomas.6 Robert was also one of the new students and had chosen Franklin Medical School primarily because one of the instructors was his older brother, John. An immediate and strong friendship grew between Orpheus and Robert; a friendship which would last for many years. Each man discovered in the other numerous interests in common: writing, publishing, politics, a desire for a Renaissance education.
Both Orpheus and Robert were serious students and soon attracted the attention of Dr. Richards. Dr. Richards was a warm, caring physician, and much beloved by his students. His attention to Orpheus and Robert grew and soon the two students were invited to dinners and social occasions at the Richards’ home. It was here that Orpheus and Robert met Dr. Richards’ two daughters, Mary Jane and Juliette. Friendly, educated women, the men were smitten and soon romances bloomed. Robert and Juliette Richards were married in 1845 and Orpheus and Mary Jane Richards married on March 14, 1847.
With the completion of their school work in 1845, Robert and Juliette left St. Charles and headed to Geneva, IL, to start a medical practice and allow Robert to pursue his love of writing and publishing. However, Orpheus remained in St. Charles, where he opened up his own private medical practice.
The contact between the now brothers-in-law remained frequent, the subjects often not medical but focused on politics and the world of publishing. Orpheus’s interest in writing and publishing continued to grow and after nearly three years of practicing medicine in St. Charles and with a new wife, he made the decision in 1847 to start a new life and pursue other interests. Orpheus and Mary Jane left St. Charles and moved to LaPorte, IN, where Robert and Juliette were living and where Robert was the editor of a small newspaper. The sisters were together again and the brothers-in-law had great plans for expressing their talents in newspaper publishing. Needing to practice medicine for a livelihood while pursuing their publishing dreams, the men learned the economic reality that publishing an independent newspaper was a difficult task, often resulting in short-lived publications that were soon shut down. Both continued to practice medicine and increase their medical training. Robert enrolled in Rush Medical School in Chicago for specialized instruction and Orpheus remained in LaPorte, running a family practice. Despite moving around, the two families remained close.
In 1849, word arrived from St. Charles of a growing problem with Dr. Richards, his medical students, and several members of the community. The common, but morbid, practice of medical students exhuming and stealing cadavers for the purpose of dissection had reached a fevered pitch when the body of the daughter of a town leader had been exhumed, stolen, and hidden in Dr. Richards’ barn. It was not clear whether Dr. Richards knew of the hidden body in his barn, but a confrontation at his home by a large vigilante crowd of 300 people led to the shooting and severe wounding of Dr. Richards and the immediate closing of Franklin Medical School.7 Dr. Richards was immediately taken to Robert and Juliette’s house to recover,and from there he moved to Dubuque, IA, with Robert and family following and establishing a new medical practice together.
While the in-laws practiced medicine in Iowa, Orpheus increased the time he spent writing and in 1852, he became the publisher and served as the editor of the LaPorte weekly newspaper the Republican Times. Through the years, it was a challenge to keep the publication afloat, finally resulting in Orpheus taking on a new partner, George H. Sweet, in 1857. 8 Again, his writing was interrupted by both his need to practice medicine for a livelihood and the obligations toward his in-laws. In 1853, his father-in-law succumbed to complications from the shooting during the Richards’ Riot six years earlier. The family diary of Rev. John Thomas (Robert’s father) recounted Orpheus and Mary Jane’s arrival for Dr. Richards’ funeral, their lengthy stay, the efforts that Orpheus often undertook to transport himself and his wife through inclement weather between their home and their in-laws’ residence, and the writing of Orpheus’ new book “Tales of My Grandfather”. 9
By 1856, Orpheus had found a good balance in his life. His first child, a son Charles Carroll Everts, had been born, his medical practice was doing well, and he was publishing books of poetry that were meeting with public approval. “O-na-we-quah; and other poems” was published in LaPorte in 1856, followed the next year by “The Spectral Bride and other Poems.” His involvement in politics was highlighted by his being selected an elector for the Democratic party ticket, casting his vote for James Buchanan from Pennsylvania for President and John Breckinridge from Kentucky for Vice-President. 10
Two years later his sister-in-law, Juliette Richards Thomas, died. Once again, the Everts family returned to Dubuque for another funeral. His widowed brother-in-law, niece and nephew seemed at loose ends. When the Everts family set out to return home, their niece, Mary Thomas, went with them. Shortly after, Dr. Robert Thomas, his father, brother, sister, and son moved to Washington, DC, where Dr. Thomas would head Kalorama Hospital for most of the Civil War. There are no indications that Orpheus and Robert remained in touch ever again, clearly a rift having occurred within the family.11
Orpheus sought new challenges and decided to seek a law degree. He was admitted to the Indiana bar in 1860,12 but did not establish a practice. The birth of his third child, Orpheus Everts, Jr., and the approaching war changed any legal ambitions Orpheus might have pondered.
On July 23, 1861, the 20th Indiana Infantry Regiment was formed in Lafayette, IN. Three weeks later, Orpheus received a commission from Governor Morgan and enlisted as the regimental surgeon. The local newspaper reported, “Dr. Orpheus Everts, the finest-looking man in the regiment and loaded with enough medicines to kill a horse, arrived in camp just as the troops prepared to depart.”13
Over the next four and a half years, the 20th Indiana fought primarily in Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and southern Pennsylvania. Their unit was often included in the Army of the Potomac’s broad theater of conflict. Through it all, Orpheus dealt with the wounded and dying from every major battle in the eastern theater except First Bull Run and Antietam, noting in a letter to his father his efforts in “having executed well the trust given me…trying the stuff of which I am composed.”14 His dedication to the wounded and care of the men was noted by all. He witnessed the worse horrors of war up close, but never shrank from his obligations. Much of what we know about Orpheus’ efforts were recorded by Private (eventually Sergeant) Seymour T. Montgomery. Prior to the war, Private Montgomery had been a reporter for the Indiana Daily Journal and observed the war from a reporter’s perspective.15 He often served as Orpheus’ hospital steward, observing at close hand the commitment of the brigade surgeon and recording for history the details of Orpheus’ dedication to those in need. “After one of the battles during this period, it became necessary for him to remain for fifty-two hours at the operating table without rest.”16
The need for assistant surgeons greatly increased. Orpheus’ nephew, Dr. Henry Grover, joined the 20th Indiana and served with Orpheus in many of the battles. In December 1862, Private Montgomery recorded that both Orpheus and Henry “anticipated the heavy casualties that the battle would bring and established their field hospital on the south bank of the Rappahannock. From the first angry bullets fired on December 13 until December 15, there was a steady stream of horribly wounded soldiers – both Union and Confederate – carried to the hospital. Everts was serving as medical director for Birney’s division and as such was totally responsible for the amputations and dressing of wounds of the more than five hundred casualties suffered by that division alone, along with numerous Confederates and stray wounded from Meade’s and Gibbon’s divisions.”17 During this time, Orpheus focused on nothing but the care of the wounded. Brief pauses were taken for a word with Dorothea Dix and a respectful comment with Mary Lincoln, both of whom came to assess the carnage and spare kind words with the afflicted, but there is no record of the conversation that occurred between Orpheus and General Burnside. The days of familial friendships from home were long forgotten. With Burnside’s retreat back across the Rappahannock, Orpheus remained on the southern end of the battlefield, gallantly trying to save the wounded from Burnside’s blunder.
Within a few weeks, Orpheus’ unit was directed north toward the Potomac. Corporal Hendricks wrote home to his mother recalling, “Although there was some opportunity for the Twentieth to rest and recuperate, there was little time for Dr. Orpheus Everts and Dr. Henry Grover to relax. The job of attending to the needs of the wounded and sick rarely provided rest, but the two good physicians were up to the task, winning high marks from the Indiana men and the entire brigade. Wounds gradually healed and fevers abated and the ranks of the Twentieth Indiana began to fill again.”18
By March, Orpheus’ youngest brother, Thomas, enlisted in the 20th Indiana and served under Orpheus.19 The unit had recovered its numbers from the Battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville and the Indiana hometown paper, the Valparaiso Republic, printed the letter that Orpheus had sent to the LaPorte Union declaring, “It seems to me impossible that an army could be in a better state of discipline, health and equipment than the Army of the Potomac.”20 As Orpheus reported back home, personal letters to family described the same conditions – the 20th was strong and the ground was “drying up fast.”21 The improved conditions were not lost on the military leaders who soon escalated the fighting. However, the 20th Indiana’s luck would not hold. The march north toward Pennsylvania through days of endless rain and mud, were met along the way by scores of townspeople offering bounties of food that the Hoosiers hadn’t seen in years. Such kindness helped mask the most gruesome battle yet to endure.22
Orpheus was able to see to the medical needs of the men, with some time for himself to rest and organize his supplies. Arriving in the Emmitsburg Road area, they knew they were getting closer to the enemy forces when they saw small groups of captured Rebel prisoners being marched past their encampment.23 Included as part of the 3rd Corps, the 20th Indiana was ordered to take a position just north of Little Round Top, along Cemetery Ridge. Orpheus established his field hospital on the Taneytown Road on the Michael Frey Farm near the town of Gettysburg.24 By the afternoon of July 2, 1863, the 20th Indiana was forced to move from their original position and reestablish themselves east of Devil’s Den, near Rose Woods, only about 150 yards from their first position of attack. By 4 p.m., the regiment was overwhelmed with Confederate fire. In a 25 minute period, the unit sustained 146 casualties – 51% of their soldiers. The 20th Indiana held the position until they ran out of ammunition, retreating back to the center of the Union Army, where it supported the artillery batteries on the third and final day of fighting.25
Orpheus was overwhelmed with wounded. A letter home from one of the unit officers observed that “Dr. Everts is one of the operating surgeons of the corps and he has worked constantly since the fight and is tired and bloody but well.”26 Trying urgently to save as many lives as possible, Orpheus attempted to use a sealing procedure for chest wounds, but its success was marginal.27 The conditions were too primitive, the number of patients overwhelming, and the supplies dwindling rapidly. Orpheus never ceased working to care for as many soldiers as he could. Brigadier General Ward, of the 3rd Corps, writing in his report recalled, “. . . . the thanks of the many sufferers in this command are tendered for his undivided attention to their wants and comfort.”28
Orpheus continued to serve the needs of the 20th Indiana for the remainder of the war. He mustered out with the other Hoosiers on 12 Jul 1865 in St. Louis, Missouri, and returned to his young family in LaPorte. The war had left untold physical scars, but as Orpheus returned home and tried to reestablish a private practice, he was more interested in helping patients with “unseen” injuries.
After Orpheus Everts’ discharge from the Union Army, he returned home and reestablished a practice in family medicine. He quickly became disinterested in the routine and decided to return to medical school for training in the expanding field of psychiatry and “diseases of the nervous system.” Working as a field surgeon during the war had exposed him to much more than the physical wounds that he worked to repair. The mental anguish and suffering was incalculable and Everts was determined to expand his knowledge and work with those whose wounds weren’t visible or easily understood. The social stigma associated with mental illness concerned Orpheus deeply and his desire was to focus on medical training to improve the lives of the afflicted.
In 1868, Orpheus was awarded an honorary degree from Rush College for his compassionate efforts in an expanding medical field. On November 10, 1868, he was appointed Superintendent of the Indiana Hospital for the Insane (now known as Central State),29 where for the next eleven years, he administered to the needs of the mentally ill and those patients diagnosed criminally insane. Personally, his family continued to grow with the birth of his fourth child, William, born in 1868, and his last child, Caroline, following in 1870.
A major focus of his work was in dealing with the abuse of mentally ill patients in the hospital. Prior to his administration, there were no separate facilities for women at the hospital. Orpheus felt that such a basic condition was essential. He developed a female department which, for the first time, separated female patients from male patients, increasing their protection, providing for their specific gender needs, and minimizing the risk of abuse and assault. The Indiana State Sentinel ran an ad that Orpheus placed in their newspaper on May 27, 1875, seeking bids for three million bricks for the construction of the female facility at the hospital.30
He wrote scores of articles discussing previously-taboo topics detailing his opinion on the care, treatment, and release of mentally ill patients back into society. Some of the most well-known articles included “The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States,” and “What Shall We Do For The Drunkard,” in the St. Louis Medical and Surgical Journal. With this article, Orpheus wrote, “Insanity is a condition of the mind in which the mind is incapable by reason of memory or reason of correcting the errors.”31
Orpheus discussed openly the controversial opinion that castration was essential before there could be any possible re-admittance of sex offenders into general society, believing in the “Criminal Responsibility of the Insane.”32 He became known as a national “alienist” (a term for today’s psychiatrist or forensic psychiatrist) and his expertise was sought in many legal cases where the question of an accused’s sanity came into dispute. The most famous case for which Orpheus was asked to provide his expertise as to the competency of the defendant was in the case of Charles Guiteau, the assassin of President James A. Garfield. In this case, Orpheus testified that contrary to Charles’ contention that at the time of the shooting he was insane, it was his opinion that he was sane. Orpheus testified that “he had never heard of an insane man denying his act after it was committed. He did not regard the inspiration as a proof of insanity. He thought that the prisoner was exaggerating his peculiarities, which were egotism, sharpness, smartness, vulgarity, and ingratitude.”33
Tremendous upheaval struck the Everts’ family in 1878. Orpheus had to confront the hospital’s quality of caregiving when an isolated complaint by a patient against the entire administration was dismissed as invalid. It was a criticism that Orpheus took personally, having devoted his professional career to the improved mental health of his patients. Even when exonerated, Orpheus was affected deeply by the criticism. However the saddest event of all was the death of his son, Orpheus Everts, Jr. – and to make the event even more sorrowful, the death was due to suicide as a result of a chronic condition of depression. The 17-year-old took an overdose of morphine and passed away very quickly.34 The father who cared so much for helping the mentally infirmed had not been able to save his own son.
Orpheus carried on. He continued his personal writing – focusing primarily on poetry and entering many writing contests. He also continued with his political interests and participated in local and state politics. In 1879, the Fort Wayne Sentinel recommended Orpheus for the gubernatorial race – for which he politely declined. His devotion was to the care of the mentally ill, but even Orpheus had his limits. He needed a change and so he resigned from the Indiana Hospital for the Insane and accepted a position as the Superintendent of the Cincinnati Sanitarium, a private hospital for the insane. He remained there until his death 23 years later, and was, once again, respected for his kind care and efforts to improve the condition of the patients. One patient, Anna Agnew, spoke fondly of Orpheus after her healing and release from the sanitarium. With Orpheus’ encouragement, she wrote a very frank book about her illness and journey to health which she published in 1886. The first among the testimonials printed in the back of her book was from Orpheus, who kindly wrote: “I wish you abundant reward for all that you may do in the line of enlightening the public on subjects embraced in your work, and that you may yet find compensation for some of the suffering you have endured.”35
Orpheus’ work continued, but in another terrible twist of disaster, another son, William, died in 1881, and in an unbelievable similarity to that of his brother, William died from an overdose of morphine, which he supposedly took for insomnia. Whether it was suicide or an accident was never determined.36
Professional respect for Orpheus’ compassionate advocacy for the mentally ill was nationally recognized with his election in 1885 as the President of the Association of Medical Superintendent of American Institutions for the Insane, which is today known as the American Psychiatric Association.37 He continued to work at the sanitarium until shortly before his death. Remembered for living a life where his concern for the “abundant reward” of others took precedence over all of his efforts, he was memorialized in his eulogy as “A giant in intellect as well as in stature, he attained distinction as physician, soldier, jurist, statesman, litterateur, poet, and philosopher, and retained his finely organized and cultivated mentality almost to the closing hours of his life.”38
Orpheus was returned home to Indiana and buried in Crown Hill Cemetery next to the bodies of his two sons. Five years to the day later, his devoted wife, Mary Jane, passed away. At her request, her ashes were returned to Indianapolis and buried with Orpheus.
- Sylvanus was the son of Achsah Bingham, who was the granddaughter of Mercy Standish – the granddaughter of Miles Standish, the military advisor to the Plymouth Colony founders of the Mayflower and the great granddaughter of Eleazar Wheelock, the founder and first president of Dartmouth College. Sylvanus’ brother, Gustavus Aldolphus Everts, once noted that “my mother was a true scholar, and had every advantage that means and position could give, under the guidance of Doctor Wheelock, President of Dartmouth College, New Hampshire.” Porter Co. Vidette, 26 Sep 1878, Volume 22, Issue #3, column 9.
- Union County Public Library researcher and genealogist Karen Coffey noted that when Ambrose Everts Burnside arrived at United State Military Academy in 1847, West Point changed the spelling of his middle name to Everett. Reasons for the spelling change are not clear on West Point records. Early Union County records indicate that the original spelling was Everts, in honor of the doctor and family friend who delivered him.
- Orpheus’ first cousin, Frank Everts, appears to have been the rare relative who strayed away from the Everts heritage of a classical education and academia. In 1849, Frank got swept up in the romantic image of California and headed west. He soon learned that more money could be made providing services for the gold miners rather than mining himself. He settled in an area in the foothills of the gold country, renamed “Rabbit’s Hill” LaPorte, and opened the “Everts and West” Pony Express office. The historical society still retains the safe from his office. Plumas Co. Historical Society, California.
- A Biographical History of Eminent and Self-Made Men of the State of Indiana, Vol. 1, (Cincinnati, Ohio, Western Biographical Pub. Co., 1880).
- The Franklin Institute Illinois’ First Medical School being also A History of Resurrection and A Primer on the Art of Grave Robbing, Rodney B. Nelson, III, Grant House Press, Geneva, Illinois, 1991, p.34.
- See Surgeon’s Call, Volume 17, No. 2, 2012 and Volume 18, No. 1, 2013, for the story of Dr. Robert Innocence Thomas.
- This event is most generally known as the “Richards’ Riot.” The Franklin Institute by Rodney Nelson is an excellent resource in the “Richards’ Riots.”
- History of LaPorte, Indiana And Its Townships, Towns and Cities. Jasper Packard, (LaPorte, S.E. Taylor & Company, Steam Printers), 1876, p.463.
- This writing would most likely have been about Ambrose Everts, a patriot soldier during the American Revolution. There is no evidence that Orpheus ever finished this book or had it published. (The Diary of Rev. John Thomas, personal family collection)
- Indiana Presidential Electors, http://www.beckes.org/records/misc/electors.html.
- Family letters show no mention of Orpheus or members of his family after this time.
- Valparaiso Republic, 15 Aug 1861, p.2 and Harvestfields of Death, Craig L. Dunn, (Carmel, Indiana, Guild Press of Indiana, Inc.), p.10.
- Letter from Orpheus Everts to his father, Dr. Sylvanus Everts, private collection.
- Oddly, it was Sgt. Montgomery that was involved in a serendipitous connection to Orpheus’ brother-in-law, Dr. Robert Thomas. As the unit followed General McClellan’s orders to march to a region of northern Virginia, the 20th Indiana found themselves inadvertently behind Confederate lines. Ordered to make camp for the night, Montgomery noticed a nearby farm. Along with one of the other soldiers, they snuck over to the farm, took many of the fence boards for a campfire and stole straw out of the barn for bedding. What Montgomery did not know was that was the farm of Robert’s future in-laws, Henry and Annie Dixon. Harvestfields of Death, Craig L. Dunn, (Carmel, Indiana, Guild Press of Indiana, Inc.), p. 126. What they believed to be the home of a secessionist was in fact the property of Major Henry Dixon, Paymaster for the Union, personal friend of President Abraham Lincoln, and resident of Washington City, where his daughter was introduced to the widow Dr. Robert I. Thomas, whom she married in April 1864.
- Cincinnati Lancet and Clinic, 1903, courtesy of Dr. M. Barbara Backer, LaPorte, Indiana.
- Harvestfields of Death, Craig L. Dunn, (Carmel, Indiana, Guild Press of Indiana, Inc.),p. 138.
- Harvestfields of Death, Craig L. Dunn, (Carmel, Indiana, Guild Press of Indiana, Inc.),p. 145.
- Papers from personal family collection.
- Harvestfields of Death, Craig L. Dunn, (Carmel, Indiana, Guild Press of Indiana, Inc.), p. 158.
- Ibid., p.175.
- Ibid., p.176.
- Conversation with Craig Dunn, 07 Sep 2014.
- Guide to Gettysburg Battlefield Monuments, Tom Huntington, (Mechanicsburg, PA, Stackpole Books, 2013), p.14. When the battle was over and the carnage was being assessed, it was the 20th Indiana’s Captain John Brown, walking among the wounded and dead Confederates, who heard a cry for help, followed by the question, “Are you a Mason?” Captain Brown, a member of the Monticello Masonic Lodge called for two soldiers to bring a stretcher and ran to the aid of the wounded soldier. Offering words of care and assistance, Captain Brown got him to the field hospital, where General Lewis Armistead died two days later from his wounds. Ibid., p. 189 and Russ Dodge, “20th Indiana Infantry Monument,” Findagrave. Private Oliver P. Rood of Company B was awarded the Medal of Honor for capturing the flag of the 21st North Carolina Infantry during Pickett’s Charge on the third day of fighting.
- 26. Harvestfields of Death, Craig L. Dunn, (Carmel, Indiana, Guild Press of Indiana, Inc.),p. 190.
- Gunshot, Lacerated and Incised Wounds, p. 325 per Dr. Barbara Backer.
- Reports of Brig. Gen. J. H. Hobart Ward, U. S. Army, commanding Second Brigade and First Division, O.R.–SERIES I–VOLUME XXVII/1 [S# 43] — Gettysburg Campaign, to Capt. W.F.A. Torbet, 04 Aug 1863.
- Dr. Barbara Backer, Generation 3.
- Indiana State Sentinel, 27 May 1875, page 3, Image 3 advertisement.
- Orpheus Everts, Archive.org and Dr. Barbara Backer, Generation 3 notes.
- Orpheus wrote a 22-page pamphlet on this topic per Dr. Barbara Backer.
- The Times, London, 26 Dec 1881, p.16.
- “Sad Suicide at Indianapolis” Special Dispatch to the Cincinnati Gazette, Indianapolis, Indiana, 09 Dec 1878.
- Under the Cloud; or, Personal Reminiscences of Insanity, Anna Agnew, (Cincinnati, Robert Clarke & Co., 1886), p.210.
- Dr. Barbara Backer, Generation 3.
- Cincinnati Lancet and Clinic, 1903.
Works Cited included in print edition
About the Author
Dr. Linda A. Sundquist-Nassie, a graduate of Mills College, has been an American history educator for nearly 40 years. She is also an author, currently working on her second historical non-fiction biography, which is about a multi-generational Virginia family, of which Dr. Robert Innocence Thomas was a member. Dr. Nassie lives with her husband in the mountains of the gold country in northern California.