Catherine “Sue” Jennings talked about the Golconda Madstone with her grandson, Christopher Argiro. Photo provided.

History comes to life in ‘The Golconda Madstone’

History comes alive through the play “The Golconda Madstone,” which is about a stone that is said to have cured people of mad dog and poison snake bites. 

The play was written by Eva Baker Watson. Watson captured the history of Christie Boos Bushman, the last person to administer treatment using the Madstone, and the effectiveness of the Madstone.

The Shawnee Hills Arts Council is planning to present “The Golconda Madstone” at two venues in Southern Illinois.

“The Golconda Madstone” is scheduled be performed at the Anna Arts Center at 125 W. Davie St. in Anna at 7 p.m. on Oct. 14-15 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 16.

Tickets are $15 and can be purchased on line at Tickets also will be available at the door.

The following weekend, the play is scheduled to be performed in Golconda at the Golden Circle at 217 Adams St. in Golconda at 2 p.m. on Oct. 23.

Tickets for the Golconda performance are available online at Tickets also will be available at the door.

Before the Pasteur Treatment, there were no reliable cures, or any cures, except for the Madstone treatment for rabies. 

The victim of a mad dog bite suffered a gruesome and horrible death. They never lose consciousness and are fully aware of the madness right up to the end

or so they say.

Christie Boos Bushman’s daughter, Catherine “Sue” Jennings, 94, shared a phone interview with Lee Hackney of the Shawnee Hills Arts Council on Sept. 19.

“My grandmother, Sue Boos, used the Madstone to heal people of mad dog bites. When she had a stroke in 1932, my mother, sister and I moved back to Golconda, Illinois to take care of my grandmother. At that time my mother started administering the Madstone treatment,” Jennings shared.

“I was eight when we moved to Golconda. My father worked construction and then came to Golconda to farm. When a person got bitten and came for treatment...the whole family would come because it might be three to four days for the Madstone to draw the poison out. We moved out of our rooms – we had two bedrooms downstairs and the attic had beds too. It was no bother to move out of our room, we did not think anything about it.

“It did not cost very much especially when we gave the families a place to stay and fed them. But if they could not afford it they were not turned away. No one was turned away, because at the time there was no cure for a mad dog bite. My mother kept everything sterile. Used boiling water to sterilize and kept the house clean. You entered the house through the kitchen into the dining room into the living room.

“All the treatments were done in the dining room with the patient sitting in a chair. Every hour the Madstone would be taken off the wound, put in water, bubbles would appear on the stone, the bubbles were popped, and when no more bubbles occurred the stone was put back on the wound. My mother would do this every hour until no more bubbles appeared. I do not understand how it worked, but the Madstone was very effective in healing people.”

Catherine Sue Jennings, Willene Ballard, Vera Reinfro and Vernell Jolly wrote the history of the Golconda Madstone based on the notes of Christie Boos Bushman. The stone came from a cave in Italy and was bought by Edward Trovillion around the 1850s in Tennessee.

Upon his death, his two grandchildren, Susan Trovillion Gullett and Matthew Breedlove, inherited the Madstone.

Susan T. Gullett and her husband moved to the old Gullett farm two miles northwest of Golconda around the 1860s. Gullett used the Madstone to treat rabies, snake bites and other forms of poison.

Gullett charged $5 and eventually over the years the cost was raised to $25, “but no one was turned away for the inability to pay. This charge included room and board for the entire family while the patient was being treated, sometimes that could last for most of a week,” Jennings recalled.

The Madstone was passed down through the family line to Christie Boos Bushman. When she died in 1974, Jennings became the keeper of the Madstone. “It is in a safety deposit box in Maryland,” she said.

“It is difficult to understand the importance placed on the Madstone by the people of this period. There was no other treatment for dreaded rabies, and other poisonous bites, and no one knows why, but it had a record of success. It was the only treatment available before the Pasteur Treatment,” Jennings said.

For more information, about the performances, call Lee Hackney at 904-625-1109, or email

The Gazette-Democrat

112 Lafayette St.
Anna, Illinois 62906
Office Number: (618) 833-2158

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