The Deadly Story Behind Raggedy Ann

Johnny Gruelle, who was a successful American writer, cartoonist, storyteller and illustrator- created the wildly popular Raggedy Ann doll in 1915 (US patent D47789).  Gruelle worked for a popular magazine at the time called Physical Culture at the time.  What many do not know is why Gruelle created the doll.

The story goes, one afternoon Marcella had been rummaging around in the attic of her grandmother’s house when she found an old storage chest, where she found a faceless rag doll.  When she showed her dad the faceless doll he drew a unique face on it. He put the famous black eyes, red triangle nose, and separated mouth on the original doll and then her Grandma made a new dress.

Johnny then proceeded to walk over to his bookshelf, where he pulled down a book of poems by James Whitcomb Riley. After thumbing through the pages, he found two poems that suited him and combined their titles to create a name for his daughter’s rag doll. So “The Raggedy Man” and “Little Orphan Annie,” poem titles were morphed into “Raggedy Ann.” Gruelle then suggested Marcella name her rag doll Raggedy Ann.

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Not long after the creation of the much beloved Raggedy Ann, Gruelle’s only child, Marcella- 13 years old- died a painful death after receiving a routine small pox vaccination at school, which was given without parental consent.  Her parents didn’t even know anything about the vaccines being given at school, and had never given their consent.

Reports indicate that after the initial inoculation Marcella had, “… lost her appetite, and became feverish and fatigued.” Amazingly, more inoculations were given despite her negative reaction from the first vaccines.  Predictably Marcella’s health continued to decline to the point where she lost all muscle control, “becoming listless and lifeless like a rag doll.”

Sadly, Marcella died a slow and agonizing death. The Gruelle’s were convinced beyond any doubt that the vaccination was the culprit behind the death of their only child, even though school authorities and vaccination proponents insisted Marcella had died from a preexisting heart defect.

Ultimately, the formal outcome of seven leading physicians’ investigation was that six of the seven physicians agreed that the death of the child was the result of vaccine-induced poisoning and call it malpractice.  The seventh, being the head of the school board and a supporter of vaccinations, declined to comment.

Not long after his daughter’s death from vaccination, Johnny Gruelle was commissioned to create an illustration for an article titled “Vaccines Killed My Two Sisters.” Cleverly, Gruelle enclosed the following note along with his submitted illustration:

“Having recently lost our only daughter through vaccination (in public school, without our consent) you may realize how terribly HUMOROUS the subject of vaccination appears to Mrs. Gruelle and myself. Of the seven physicians called in on the case, six pronounced it in emphatic terms MALPRACTICE. The seventh did not commit himself, being the head of the school board and a firm advocate of vaccination.”

The tragic vaccine induced death of Marcella propelled Johnny to become a staunch member of the anti-vaccination movement of the time. Johnny’s wife, Myrtle Gruelle, explained that Johnny had been putting the final touches on the Raggedy Ann doll just prior to Marcella’s untimely death.  Ironically, the patent for the Raggedy Ann character, soon to be adopted as an iconic symbol for anti-vaccination advocates, had been granted around the same time as Marcella’s death from vaccination.


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