Daily Austin Republican, November 25, 1858. There must be an archaic technical term or two for this marvelous effect, whereby a pregnant woman who is traumatized by X gives birth to Y. Anybody out there know the jargon? Meanwhile, you’re doubtless wondering how this kid managed to get along without a head. Well, it’s really quite simple. . .
I do know the word for what this kid was: He was a Blemmyes, part of an ancient race of headless people of whom Pliny the Elder wrote (while extremely high, presumably) traduntur capita abesse, ore et oculis pectore adfixis (“They are said to have no heads, but a mouth and eyes in their chests”). Pliny had it worked out that these folks lived out Africa way somewhere, maybe Ethiopia. That’s pretty far from Illinois, but let’s give Pliny credit for the details he got right.