In September 1934, Louis Nasch, a department store painter living in St. Paul, Minnesota, alerted the press to the fact that his wife, Martha, hadn't had anything to eat or drink in the last seven years. She hadn't slept either. And yet she was perfectly healthy.
Louis explained that he decided to go public with this information because "I do not want people to think I am starving my wife."
Louis and Martha Nasch
Upon being questioned by the press, Martha insisted it was true, though she conceded that she realized "the world will not believe me."
To back up her claim, her husband, their 12-year-old son Robert, and a girl who lived next door had all signed a statement swearing they hadn't seen her eat or drink anything for the last 7 years. Furthermore, Martha said she was willing to undergo scientific tests to prove she didn't need to eat.
But it doesn't seem like doctors ever took her up on the challenge. In fact, when reporters asked doctors in St. Paul if it could be true that she had lived without any nourishment, they "derided" the idea.
Unfortunately, I have no idea what become of Mrs. Nasch. After the brief flurry of attention in 1934, there was never again a news story about her, as far as I can tell.
According to census records
, Martha, Louis, and Robert were all still living in St. Paul in 1940. But after that, nothing. Except that according to Minnesota death records
, Louis died in 1964. But I can't find any death records for Martha. Maybe she's still alive somewhere. After all, if she didn't need to eat or drink, it's possible she didn't need to die either.
La Crosse Tribune and Leader-Press
- Sep 20, 1934
St. Paul Woman Claims She Hasn't Eaten, Drunk Anything For 7 Years
ST. PAUL, Minn.— A 44-year-old, bob-haired St. Paul housewife, who "knows the world will not believe me," averred today she has taken neither food nor drink for seven years.
Strong enough to cook and do the housework for her husband and son, Mrs. Martha Nasch sat mending socks in the front room of her little home at 642 Half avenue as she stolidly maintained, under questioning of a reporter, that she has not eaten or drunk since 1927.
Across the room sat her husband, Louis J. Nasch, 55-year-old department store painter, who says he has not seen his wife eat or drink since July 29. The husband notified newspaper men of his wife's condition because "I do not want people to think I am starving my wife."
Twelve-year-old Robert Nasch, a student in Theodore Roosevelt junior high school, has, his parents said, smiling, "been telling every one that my mom doesn't eat or drink anything."
Although unable to explain completely what she describes as "my supernatural condition," Mrs. Nasch is willing to undergo a test under constant surveillance to prove her fasting claims.
"Place me under constant watch for any length of time," she said, "and I can prove that I do not need food or water. Let the test run six months if necessary."
Mrs. Nasch contends that when she first observed a change in her life she consulted a St. Paul physician. The result was confinement in the State Insane hospital at St. Peter.
"Somehow the world was not the same," she said. "My body felt and still feels as though it were petrified. I could not eat or drink. I did not want it, although I continued to get meals for my family.
"The doctor told me I had a case of nerves," she continued, "and because I refused to eat I was sent to St. Peter. They thought I was insane, yet they told me I was normal in every other way. I read books, wrote and drew pictures. I hid or threw away the food brought me."
While in the hospital Mrs. Nasch sought through scientific books available to find some explanation of her condition.
"I found a plausible explanation in the Bible," she maintained, "although I never had paid much attention to the Bible up to that time. In the Old Testament I found this: 'They shall see food, but not eat. It shall be of wormwood. They shall see water, but not drink. It shall be as gall.' That describes perfectly my condition, but I cannot understand why this curse should be visited on me."