Mattoon was the site of the "Mad Gasser" attacks of the 1940s. The Mad Gasser of Mattoon or the "Mad Anesthetist" was the name given to the person or people believed to be responsible for a series of apparent gas attacks that occurred in this area in the mid-1940s and in Botetourt Country. This was the climx of World War II. People were convinced that an evil genius was on the loose. This unseen person would open bedroom windows and spray victims with a "sweet-smelling" anesthetic gas. Citizens formed armed patrols, but hey could never catch the "Mad Gasser". The hypothesis is that this is an example of hysteria.
Source: Nicholas Christakis & James Fowler, Connected, 2010, Harper Press