The Ramblings of a Mad Woman

When I first started this blog, I did it in order to help other people find their forgotten ancestors. I persuaded my State Senator, Joe Robach, to draft legislation in 2011 that would allow for the release of patient names, dates of death, and location of graves to the public, which he introduced to the New York State Legislature. It first appeared on March 23, 2012 as S6805-2011. On January 8, 2014, it was reintroduced as S2514-2013.

There are at least 17 former New York State Hospitals / Insane Asylums that have been renamed, closed, demolished, or turned into New York State Prisons. The cemeteries located on former NYS Hospitals are filled with anonymous, unmarked graves. Willard alone has close to 6,000. Some of these former State Hospitals, such as Buffalo and Rochester, used city or county cemeteries and they are filled with the nameless as well. How many? I do not know. How long will it take to give these people the dignity in death that they deserve? When will they be allowed to rest in peace? When will they be remembered as fellow human beings who were on the same earthly path as everyone else before their lives and their freedom were taken from them? What else do I have to do to get the attention of the Governor and Assembly members to release the names of former patients who lived and died in these warehouses? The Department of Health and Human Services declared last March that patient medical records may be released to the public after 50 years of a patient’s death. Now we have to ask for another bill to be drafted and introduced to the Senate again in order to allow New York State to release medical records. After seven years on this journey, I am tired and just don’t have the desire to fight anymore.

Before I began my research on Willard and the other New York State Hospitals and Custodial Institutions, I considered myself to be normal, whatever that means. All kinds of interesting things happened to me and I wondered, why? I lost my job, went through menopause, osteoarthritis, and a neurological problem that I have always had, had become progressively worse. Depression is one of those “Mental Illnesses” that I never thought of as a “Mental Illness.” I thought that depression was a normal human emotion that one experiences when subjected to trauma or pain in any of its various forms. I would not have believed that I was “Mentally Ill,” until my neurologist, who I no longer go to, informed me that I have delusional thinking and I’m paranoid because I believe that I can no longer protect myself if I needed too like being able to run from a dangerous situation. This came from a 30 something year old man in perfect health who stands over 6 feet tall. I’m 57 years old, stand 5 feet 2 inches tall, and have Familial or Essential Tremors in my head and my right hand. My thinking is based on facts, not delusions. I thought that doctors were above this archaic type of thinking but I was wrong. Many men, even doctors, still don’t get it.

The reason why I am relating my story is that I am sure that had I lived one hundred years ago with these same progressive diseases, I would have been locked up! I would not have believed that a doctor would ever say such things to me and I can only imagine what must have happened to my great-grandmother, Maggie, who died at Willard State Hospital 86 years ago. If you wonder why people do not seek help, my little story is why they don’t. Am I labeled? I don’t know. It is frightening when you realize that you’re not feeling like your normal self, and seek help, and this is what a doctor says to you. Maybe we all need to be a little more aware of who is crazy and who is normal and realize that the people buried in those anonymous, unmarked graves were human beings like me, and you, just trying to make their way in life. Please write or call your New York State Senator so that this bill will become a law. Thank you!

THEY’RE BURIED WHERE? by Seth Voorhees

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2014 St. Lawrence State Hospital Preservation Society

Here is another wonderful genealogy resource for those who are looking for loved ones who lived and died at St. Lawrence State Hospital in Ogdensburg, New York. Please take a moment to visit their website. 

St. Lawrence State Hospital Preservation Society

St. Lawrence State Hospital Preservation Society

St. Lawrence State Hospital Preservation Society - Our Mission

“The historical structures of the St. Lawrence State Hospital are worth being memorialized, not dismantled, though their destruction is most likely inevitable. They stand now with windows broken, paint peeling, and frames crumbling. The St. Lawrence State Hospital Preservation Society’s mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, store, and disseminate anything historically related or relevant to the hospital, whether it be New York State Assembly documents, plans and drawings, reports, or personal accounts. Countless hours already have been spent gathering much of this information, which is, in turn, available to you here, on the Society’s official website. And countless more hours are still to be spent before this work is complete. It has been a long and often difficult process, and it has only just begun. We’re hoping that as more people become interested in this research and take up the challenge to help preserve it, information that we might never have expected will come to light, furthering this cause.”

St. Lawrence State Hospital-Grave Markers & Casket

St. Lawrence State Hospital-Grave Markers & Casket

St. Lawrence State Hospital Photo Gallery

In Memoriam

2014 Glass Photo Negatives Discovered in Binghamton’s Historic Asylum

TREASURES OF THE TIER by Roger Luther is a column about Historic Locations in New York’s Southern Tier. Roger has also created nysAsylum a website that has countless photographs and historical information on Binghamton, Buffalo, Utica, and Willard State Hospitals.

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Camera-Roger Luther

The discovery of these rare, historical photographic dry plates tells us a few things. One, photographs do indeed exist of patients who lived and died at Binghamton State Hospital over one hundred years ago. It also tells us that the New York State Office of Mental Health never took the time to save and preserve these important artifacts and didn’t give a hoot about them until the finding was brought to their attention. As usual, now they are very concerned. I believe the burial ledger was also found among the piles of dirt, dust, and pigeon poop. It will be interesting to see if the OMH will let these photographs be released and viewed by the public, or if they will come up with some lame excuse as to why we are not allowed to view them. Thank You, Roger Luther and the volunteers of the Broome County Historical Society and the Greater Binghamton Health Center, for meticulously scanning, restoring, and preserving these historical artifacts!

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Materials-Roger Luther

The following article “Windows Into The Past-Thousands of Glass Photo Negatives Discovered in Binghamton’s Historic Asylum” by Roger Luther is reprinted with permission. Please click on the RED link below to view more photographs. Sorry friends, there are no photographs of patients.

Photographic Dry Plates-Roger Luther

Photographic Dry Plates-Roger Luther

“Sarah was led from her ward to a nearby building. Entering a small room she sat motionless in a chair facing a large strange-looking wooden contraption. In a flash, her photograph was taken. The man behind the camera told her to turn her head to the right and then… another flash. While Sarah was led away, the photographer removed a large wooden frame from the camera and inserted another for his next subject.

Later in his darkroom, a 5×7-inch glass plate was carefully removed from its wooden frame and washed in chemical baths revealing two black & white negative images of Sarah’s face and profile. The photographer then scribed Sarah’s name and a number on the back of the glass plate and placed it in a box with several others.

That was one hundred years ago, and according to the U.S. Census of 1900, at that time Sarah was listed along with 1,388 others as a patient at Binghamton State Hospital.

A century after her photograph was taken, preparations were being made to rehabilitate the long-vacant Main Building, known as the Castle, on the campus of the former Binghamton State Hospital. A small team of volunteers representing the Broome County Historical Society and the Greater Binghamton Health Center, took on the task of removing items of historical significance from the building, then relocating them to a controlled environment and cataloguing each of the artifacts. Early in the process an amazing discovery was made. A door at the back of the old asylum chapel opened into a small room piled high with various items and debris. Photographs, books, documents, and a variety of other items were mixed with pieces of fallen ceiling plaster, decomposed pigeon parts, and a thick mixture of dirt and dust.

Like excavating an archeological site, layer by layer the material was carefully removed. At one point a small stack of dusty glass plates was uncovered, each measuring 5×7 inches. Holding one of the plates up to a window, a negative image on the glass could be seen. These glass plates were in fact hundred-year-old photographic negatives. Soon, more plates were uncovered in a broken cardboard box, and the dig continued. At the bottom of the pile several more boxes were found. Ultimately, hundreds of glass plates were discovered scattered throughout the room, some broken, some cracked, and most covered with a layer of dirt and plaster dust. Finally a path was cleared to the back of the room where a tall wooden cabinet stood. The cabinet door was pried open and there it was… the mother lode. Over the next several days over 5,000 glass dry-plate photo negatives were removed from the room.

After relocating the glass plates to a controlled environment, a plan was established to carefully clean the plates and then package them in protective acid-free archival material. The next step would be to digitally scan and catalogue each image – an ongoing effort that continues to this day.

Taken over an approximate 25-year period during the early 1900’s, the photos show life at the StateHospital as it was in the earliest years. Subject matter includes hospital staff, buildings, farms, medical charts, and events – but by far, most of the photos are of patients.

As stated in the 1892 Annual Report of the Trustees of Binghamton State Hospital, “it is very desirable to preserve with the records of cases treated in the hospital, photographs of the individual patients.” The report goes on to say that “the modern dry-plate methods of photography are so simple that they are easily managed… the sum we should require to purchase the apparatus necessary would be $300.” Soon after that a camera was procured, and in 1894 one of the nurses at the hospital, Fred W. Ernie, took on the task as photographer along with his other responsibilities.

The trustees could not have known how significant their decision would prove to be. Thanks to their foresight, images were recorded representing thousands of lives-once-lived. Images, that according to Mark Stephany, Director of the Greater Binghamton Health Center, “restore a level of dignity to people long forgotten.”

Today, the images would be invaluable as a resource for historians and those researching family history, however, issues regarding possible public access cannot be addressed until the restoration and scanning effort has been completed. As stated by Darby Penney, co-author of The Lives They Left Behind: Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic, “the discovery, rescue and conservation of this collection of 5,000 images from Binghamton State Hospital is an incredible feat of preservation and an invaluable contribution to the historical record.”

What happened to Sarah? Nearly 30 years after her listing on the 1900 census, while still a patient at the StateHospital she died and was buried in the hospital cemetery, her grave marked only by a number. But her story does not end there. Construction of an interstate highway in 1961 cut directly through the cemetery forcing the relocation of 1,504 of its nearly 4,000 graves to a nearby field. According to records released by the Department of Transportation at the time, Sarah’s grave was among those moved. Today the relocated cemetery appears as a large empty field, its numbered stone grave markers having long ago settled below ground.

Sarah’s existence, like many of the others on that census list, was one of obscurity. But unknowingly, she and the other patients left their mark for posterity. Like a century-old Facebook, the discovery of this 100-year old time capsule has brought their images to light – and as these faces from the past are being restored and preserved, so to is the dignity of people long forgotten.”

BINGHAMTON STATE HOSPITAL-Main Building-Removal of Artifacts.

1896 New York State Commission in Lunacy

Before you read The New York Times Article, I have given a brief explanation of what the New York State Commission in Lunacy was and who it was responsible for. It eventually morphed into the present day New York State Office of Mental Health. Instead of a president, the head of the OMH is the commissioner.

“The commission is composed of a physician, who is its president, a lawyer and a layman, aiming thereby to secure due attention to the medical, the legal and the material or business matters which concern the insane and the institutions for their custody and care. The commission collectively and individually is invested with a wide range of powers and is charged with a corresponding extent and variety of duties.”

“The commissioners are paid for their services as follows: To the medical member, $5,000 per annum; to the legal member, $3,000 per annum; to the lay member, $10 per day for each day of actual service; and to each member an allowance of $100 per month in lieu of all expenses for travel or other purposes.”

“Under the amended constitution of the State which took effect on January 1, 1895, the commission is raised from a legislative to a constitutional body, and made a permanent branch of the State government. It is endowed with sole and exclusive jurisdiction over the insane and over all institutions, public or private, for their custody; but it has been relieved from all connection with or charge of the idiotic, the epileptic and feeble-minded, or other defective and dependent classes. Its present composition, on the threefold basis above referred to, is calculated to insure efficiency in performance and success in administrative results in a larger measure than could be attained by perhaps any different arrangement.”

SOURCE: Report of the Investigation of the State Commission in Lunacy, and the State Hospitals for the Insane, by the Subcommittee of the Senate Finance and Assembly Ways and Means Committees. Transmitted to the Legislature May 10, 1895, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer, 1895, Pages 4,6,7.

O.M.H. Police Patch-Wikipedia

O.M.H. Police Patch-Wikipedia

LUNACY BOARD’S POWERS.
MANAGER’S CAN MAKE NO EXPENDITURES WITHOUT ITS CONSENT.
President MacDonald of the State Commission Ridicules the Idea that the Patronage of the Hospitals for the Insane Will Go to Politicians –
He Expects Gov. Morton to Make Good Appointments Under the Horton Act.

Dr. Carlos F. MacDonald, President of the State Commission in Lunacy, yesterday ridiculed the notion that the patronage of the State hospitals for the insane would be transferred to politicians through the operation of the Horton act, which was signed by Gov. Morton on Wednesday.

The Governor is empowered by the act to appoint new Boards of Managers for all the State hospitals for the insane except the Homeopathic Hospital at Middletown. The number of managers in each case is to be seven, to be appointed at first for terms of one, two, three, four, five, six, and seven years, and afterward for the full term of seven years.

“I am quite sure” said Dr. MacDonald to a reporter for THE NEW-YORK TIMES, “that Gov. Morton will appoint men and women as managers whose character and standing in the community will be a guarantee of their efficiency and uprightness.

The State Commission in Lunacy is an absolutely non-political body in the performance of its duties, and if it were otherwise I should not be connected with it. While the clause in the Horton act removing the present Board of Managers was not suggested or approved by the Lunacy Commission, I do not believe that the appointment of new boards will make any serious changes in the system at present in vogue.

“Under the act passed in 1893, the Lunacy Commission has large powers of audit and supervision over the various State hospitals for the insane. No expenditure can be incurred by any Board of Managers without its sanction. This rule applies to small things as well as to great ones. No repairs to buildings can be made until the Lunacy Commission has given its consent to the work and to the price which is to be paid for it.

“Most of the staple articles – such as meat, clothing, milk, and so forth – are obtained through contracts, tenders being invited for three, six, or twelve months at a given price, the articles to be supplies as required. These contracts must be submitted to the Lunacy Commission, which sees that there is no serious inequality in price between the tenders from different districts. In some cases the commission uses its powers so as to make several districts combine to purchase their supplies of certain staples from one particular contractor, selected by open competition, to insure the reduction in price which comes from buying goods by the wholesale.

“Supplies for each hospital are now ordered by its steward with the approval of the Medical Superintendent, and therefore the Board of Managers has no power to increase such orders. The appointment of all subordinates in each hospital rests with the Medical Superintendent, under carefully regulated and rigorously observed civil service rules, so that this important branch of the service is not open to the attack of politicians.

“The Medical Superintendent of each State hospital for the insane is, indeed, only after competitive examination, open only to those who have served five years as medical assistants in one the State hospitals for the insane. This is an excellent provision, as it insures promotion for those who devote their abilities to the study of insanity. The Medical Superintendents cannot be removed except for cause.

“The list of managers appointed by Gov. Morton for the Manhattan State Hospital on Ward’s Island is an indication of the class of men and women he will appoint for all the hospitals. These are now Henry E. Howland, George E. Dodge, Mrs. Eleanor Kinnicut, John McAnerney, Isaac N. Seligman, Miss Alice Pine, and George S. Bowdoin.”

The State hospitals for the insane whose managers will go out of office by the terms of the Horton act are the Manhattan State Hospital, the Long Island State Hospital, in Brooklyn; the Hudson River State Hospital, at Poughkeepsie; the Buffalo State Hospital, the Rochester State Hospital, the Binghamton State Hospital, the Utica State Hospital, the St. Lawrence State Hospital, at Ogdensburg; the Willard State Hospital, at Ovid, Seneca County, and the Collins Farm, in Erie County.

The total annual expenditure for these hospitals is upward of $4,000,000. There were 18,269 insane persons confined in the public hospitals of this State on Oct. 1, 1894. These required 3,304 medical and ordinary attendants.

The improvement which has taken place in the State management of the insane in recent years is due in large measure to the increased powers of audit and supervision given to the State Lunacy Commission as a result of disclosures of mismanagement in the Hudson River Hospital and elsewhere in 1892.

Francis R. Gilbert, Deputy Attorney General, was directed by Gov. Flower to make an investigation of the affairs of the Hudson River State Hospital in February, 1893. It was proved that one dealer had had a monopoly of supplying this hospital with meat for the preceding twenty-one years, getting from 2 to 2 ½ cents a pound more than the market price.

It was also shown that the price paid for coal was excessive, and the quantity used extravagant. The attention of the public was directed to this mismanagement chiefly through the columns of THE NEW-YORK TIMES, and the consequence was the introduction of reformed civil service methods in the administration of all the State hospitals for the insane.

SOURCE: The New York Times. Published May 15, 1896. Copyright@The New York Times.

Middletown 1896 & Today

Here are some wonderful photographs from the Twenty Fifth Annual Report of the Middletown State Homeopathic Hospital at Middletown 1896
I apologize to everyone for removing the “today” photos of Middletown. Although I had the photographer’s name on each of the 10 photos I displayed, gave credit and praise, included the link to the website, the photographer did not approve. I have deleted all photos, credits, and links to the photographer’s website.

Entrance to Middletown 1896

Entrance to Middletown 1896

Middletown 1-1896

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A Visit To The Museum Of disABILITY History 11.11.2013

Yesterday, I visited The Museum of disABILITY History, located at 3826 Main Street, Buffalo, New York. I finally got to meet David Mack-Hardiman, Director of Training, People Inc., who gave me a tour of the museum, and Douglas V. Farley, Museum Director. I was very impressed with all the displays! This museum has so much to offer including Educational Resources, Activities, Traveling Exhibits, Cafe, and Museum Store. Please visit the museum if you have the chance!

Monument For The Forgotten

Monument For The Forgotten

My favorite exhibit, “The Monument For The Forgotten” was the vision of David Mack-Hardiman, created by Brian NeslineFaces of Buffalo, “featuring thousands of individual grave markers woven into a mosaic tapestry image of a large stone monument.” I need to acknowledge the selfless work that David and People Inc. have done over the past few years. David and his team go into these unmarked cemeteries, clear the brush away, mow the lawns, and raise and clean each marker. Some graves are flat, numbered markers while others, as in the case of a few New York State Custodial Institutions, have the names inscribed. This back-breaking work is done by volunteers! God Bless Them!

Monument For The Forgotten 2

Monument For The Forgotten 2

Mission: The Museum of disABILITY History advances the understanding, acceptance, and independence of people with disabilities. The Museum’s exhibits, collections, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery.

Vision: The Museum seeks with, and on behalf of, individuals with developmental and other disabilities, a higher level of societal awareness and understanding, and a change in attitudes, perceptions and actions that will result in people with disabilities having the greatest possible participation in their communities.”

Museum Of disABILITY History

Museum Of disABILITY History

“Established in 1998 by Dr. James M. Boles, president and CEO of People Inc. (Western New York’s leading non-profit human services agency) the Museum of disABILITY History has steadily expanded over the years and, in late 2010, moved to a brand new location (pictured above). The Museum of disABILITY History is dedicated to advancing the understanding, acceptance and independence of people with disabilities. The Museum’s exhibits, collections, archives and educational programs create awareness and a platform for dialogue and discovery. The Museum of disABILITY History is a project of People Inc. and is chartered by the New York State Department of Education Board of Regents. People Inc. exists so that individuals with disabling conditions or other special needs have the supports they need to participate and succeed in an accepting society. As noted throughout the site, this project has been developed with the generous support of People Inc. and the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation. We are truly thankful for their participation in this worthwhile effort.”

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Lin and David Mack-Hardiman

Lin and David Mack-Hardiman

1915 State Charities Aid Association News

The State Charities Aid Association, S.C.A.A., was founded in 1872. The S.C.A.A. inspected all charitable institutions that included all New York State Hospitals, Custodial Institutions for the Feeble-Minded, Prisons, Tuberculosis Hospitals, County Poor Houses, Polio Clinics, Houses of Refuge, and Orphanages. Charity Organization Societies (COS), were part of the “scientific charity movement” that began in the late nineteenth century. S.C.A.A. News, Volumes 3-11, 1915 through 1923 is a TREASURE TROVE of information and photographs!

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“Brief Facts About State Charities Aid Association:

The object of the State Charities Aid Association, which is a voluntary body of citizens of New York State, is to improve conditions in public institutions and to promote public health and child care.

It is an incorporated body, State-wide, but without State aid.

Its budget is about $329,000 a year, and is met by voluntary contributions.

It has 12,000 members; it has local committees in every county. Its volunteer visitors visit and inspect all public institutions. The Association employs abut 95 persons in its Central Office, and about 20 in the field. It devotes itself to the following objects:

Finding homes for destitute or orphaned children.

Assisting mothers with babies.

Preventing mental disorders and securing better care for the mentally sick and defective.

Visiting public institutions in order to improve conditions, to promote with welfare and comfort of patients and inmates.

Helping to provide suitable occupations for sick persons in hospitals and institutions.

Assisting in securing wise laws about public health, care of the sick, institutions, and the expenditure of public funds for these purposes.”
SOURCE: S.C.A.A. News, Published Monthly by The State Charities Aid Association, 105 East 22nd Street, New York, N.Y., Volume X, No. 9, June, 1922, Page 13.

1872 Miss Louisa Lee Schuyler – The State Charities Aid Association.

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1893 State Hospital Cadavers

For those of you looking for ancestors buried in Anonymous Graves at Unmarked State Hospital and Custodial Institution Cemeteries, you may never find them.

Chapter 661, Laws 1893. Sec. 207. CADAVERS.
The persons having lawful control and management of any hospital, prison, asylum, morgue or other receptacle for corpses not interred, and every undertaker or other person having in his lawful possession any such corpse for keeping or burial may deliver and he is required to deliver, under the conditions specified in this section, every such corpse in their or his possession, charge, custody or control, not placed therein by relatives or friends, in the usual manner for keeping or burial, to the Medical Colleges of the State authorized by law to confer the degree of Doctor of medicine and to any university of the State having a medical preparatory course of instruction and the professors and teachers in every such college or university may receive any such corpse and use it for the purpose of medical study. No corpse shall be so delivered or received if desired for interment by relatives or friends within forty-eight hours after death, or if known to have relatives or friends; or of a person who shall have expressed a desire in his last illness that his body be interred, but the same shall be buried in the usual manner. If the remains of any person so delivered or received shall be subsequently claimed by any relative or friend, they shall be given up to such a relative or friend for interment. Any person claiming any corpse or remains for interment as provided in this section may be required by the persons, college, university or officer or agent thereof, in whose possession, charge or custody the same may be to present an affidavit stating that he is such relative or friend, and the facts and circumstances upon which the claim that he is such relative or friend is based, the expense of which affidavit shall be paid by the persons requiring it. If such person shall refuse to make such affidavit, such corpse or remains shall not be delivered to him but he shall forfeit his claim and right to the same. Any such medical college or university desiring to avail itself of the provisions of this section shall notify such persons having the control and management of the institutions and places heretofore specified, and such undertakers and other persons having any such corpse in their possession, custody or control in the county where such college or university is situated, and in any adjoining county in which no medical college is situated, of such desire, and thereafter all such persons shall notify the proper officers of such college or university whenever there is any coipse in their possession, custody or control, which may be delivered to a medical college or university under this section, and shall deliver the same to such college or university. If two or more medical colleges located in one county are entitled to receive corpses from the same county or adjoining counties, they shall receive the same in proportion to the number of matriculated students in each college. The professors and teachers in every college or university receiving any corpse under this section shall dispose of the remains thereof, after they have served the purposes of medical science and study, in accordance with the regulations of the local board of health where the college or university is situated. Every person neglecting to comply with or violating any provision of this section, shall forfeit to the local board of health where such non-compliance or violation occurred, the sum of twenty-five dollars for every such non-compliance or violation, to be sued for by the health officer of such place, and when recovered to be paid over, less the costs and expenses of the action, to such board for its use and benefit.”
SOURCE: Contributions From The Pathological Institute Of The New York State Hospitals, Volumes I and II, 1896-1897, State Hospital Press, Utica, New York, 1898, Pages 127-128.

1893 New York State Asylum Directory

CHAPTER 32.
ASYLUM DIRECTORY.

STATE HOSPITAL SYSTEM.

UTICA STATE HOSPITAL – Utica, Oneida County.
G. Alder Blumer, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
One mile from the New York Central, the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg, the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, and the Ontario and Western railway stations. Accessible, every fifteen minutes, by New York Mills or Whitesboro electric cars. Stop at Cross or Jason streets. Telephone, No. 118.

WILLARD STATE HOSPITAL – Willard, Seneca County. 
Theodore H. Kellogg, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible, from the east, by New York Central and Hudson River railway (Auburn branch from Syracuse to Geneva); from the west, via New York Central and Hudson River railway, from Rochester (Auburn branch) to Geneva, or via Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division); from the north, Lyons to Geneva, via Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division) and Fall Brook railway, from Geneva, via steamers of the Seneca Lake Steam Navigation Company, or by Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division); from the south, via the Philadelphia and Reading railway (Lehigh Valley division), or by Seneca Lake Steam Navigation Company. Local telephone.

HUDSON RIVER STATE HOSPITAL – Poughkeepsie, Dutchess County.
C. W. Pilgrim, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
The hospital is located two miles north of the New York Central railway station at Poughkeepsie. Carriages may be procured at the station, and a public conveyance runs regularly to and from the hospital, connecting with the principal trains. The hospital may also be reached by the West Shore railway ferry from Highland station to Poughkeepsie, and by the Philadelphia, Reading and New England railway (Poughkeepsie Bridge route). Conveyances may be procured from Parker avenue station. Telephone call, “Hudson River State Hospital.”

MIDDLETOWN STATE HOMEOPATHIC HOSPITAL – Middletown, Orange County.
Selden H. Talcott, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Middletown is sixty-six miles from New York city, and may be reached by the following railways: New York, Lake Erie and Western; New York, Ontario and Western, and New York, Susquehanna and Western. The hospital is reached by several omnibus lines. Public carriages may also be had at the station. Telephone No. 41.

BUFFALO STATE HOSPITAL – Buffalo, Erie County. 
J. B. Andrews, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
The institution is three and a half miles from the New York Central railway station, and is accessible by street cars, namely trolley line on Niagara street, trolley line on Main street, of horse cars through Elmwood avenue. Telephone No. 1235 D.

BINGHAMTON STATE HOSPITAL – Binghamton, Broome County.
Charles G. Wagner, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Located on the lines of the Erie, Delaware, Lackawanna and Western, and Delaware and Hudson railways. Electric cars leave corner of Court and Washington streets, near all railway stations, every fifteen minutes, between 6 A. M. and 10 P. M. Telephone No. 553.

ST. LAWRENCE STATE HOSPITAL – Ogdensburg, St. Lawrence County. 
P. M. Wise, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Located three and one-half miles from center of Ogdensburg, on the Rome, Watertown and Ogdensburg and Central Vermont railways. Accessible by omnibus from Seymour house, four times daily. Public carriages may also be obtained at railway stations. Telephone call, ” State Hospital.”

ROCHESTER STATE HOSPITAL – Rochester, Monroe County. 
E. H. Howard, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Two miles from railway stations. Accessible by electric cars of the South and Lake avenue line. Telephone No. 124 I.

MATTEAWAN STATE HOSPITAL – Matteawan, Dutchess County.
(For insane criminals only.)
Post-office and railroad station, Fiskill-on-the-Hudson.
H. E. Allison, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Fifty-eight miles from New York city, on the New York Central and Hudson River railway. It is also accessible by the West Shore railway and the Erie, to Newburg; thence by ferry to Fiskill-on-the-Hudson. The institution may be reached by an electric railway, which runs within three-quarters of a mile from the Hudson River railway station; also public conveyances at the station. Telephone call, “State Asylum.”

EXEMPTED COUNTY SYSTEM.

NEW YORK CITY ASYLUMS FOR THE INSANE.
A. E. MacDonald, M. D., General Superintendent New York City Asylums.
Post-office address, Station F, New York city.
All official communication with regard to the New York City Asylums for the Insane, should be addressed to the general superintendent. Ferry tickets and railroad tickets (at reduced rates, to those entitled to same) and permits for admission can be obtained only at the office of the Department of Public Charities and Correction, 66 Third Avenue, cor. Eleventh street.

WARD’S ISLAND ASYLUM.
W. A. Macy, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by department boats, from foot of East Twenty-sixth street, 10.30 A. M.; also by steam ferry, on even hours, from foot of 115th street. Telephone, 420-18.

BLACKWELL’S ISLAND ASYLUM.
E. C. Dent, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by department boat from foot of East Twenty-sixth street 10.30 A. M.; also by ferries from foot of Fifty-second and Seventy-eighth streets, running hourly. Telephone 1028-18.

HART’S ISLAND ASYLUM.
Geo. A. Smith, M. D., Acting Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by department boats from foot of East Twenty-sixth street 11.30 A. M.

CENTRAL ISLIP ASYLUM – Central Islip, Long Island.
(Branch of New York city asylums.)
H. C. Evarts, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by trains on the Long Island railway; surface and elevated roads from Grand Central station to Thirty-fourth street ferry, connecting with Long Island City station of Long Island railway. No telephone. Telegraph Central Islip, L. I.

KINGS COUNTY LUNATIC ASYLUM – Flatbush, Long Island.
W. E. Sylvester, M. D., General Superintendent.
Three miles from Brooklyn; accessible by street car from East Twenty-third street and Fulton ferries. Telephone No. 68, Flatbush. All official communications with regard to the Kings County Asylums should be addressed to W. E. Sylvester, M. D., General Superintendent, Flatbush, L. I.

KINGS COUNTY FARM – Kings Park, Long Island.
(Branch of Kings County Lunatic Asylum).
Oliver M. Dewing, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Forty-five miles from New York city; accessible by trains on the Long Island railway; surface and elevated roads from Grand Central station, New York, to Thirty-fourth street ferry, connecting with Long Island City station of the Long Island railway; also from Flatbush avenue station, via Jamaica, Long Island railway. No telephone. Telegraph, Kings Park, one mile distant.

LICENSED PRIVATE ASYLUM SYSTEM.

BLOOMINGDALE ASYLUM – One Hundred And Seventeenth Street, New York City. Between Amsterdam avenue and Boulevard.
S. B. Lyon, M. D., Medical Superintendent.
Accessible by Boulevard cars, or Elevated railway, to One Hundred and Fourth street and Amsterdam avenue cars. Number of patients 300. This institution receives and treats, gratuitously, a small number of indigent insane of New York city, and receives a considerable number of acute and hopeful cases, which pay only part of their expenses. It will be removed to “White Plains before October, 1894. Telephone No. 714, Harlem, New York City.

PROVIDENCE RETREAT – Buffalo, Erie County.
Under the charge of the Sisters of Charity.
Floyd S. Crego, M. D., Consulting Physician.
Harry A. Wood, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Located on Main street, corner of Steele. Distance from Union railway station, four miles. Accessible by electric street car line. Number of patients limited to 125. Minimum rate for care and treatment of private patients, six dollars per week. Telephone No. 791, M.

MARSHALL INFIRMARY – Troy, Rensselaer County.
J. D. Lomax, M. D., Physician in Charge.
One mile from Union Railway station. Accessible by electric street car, from Congress street. Number of patients limited to 130. Minimum rate for care and treatment of private patients, five dollars per week. Telephone call, “Marshall Infirmary.”

LONG ISLAND HOME – Amityville, Long Island.
O. J. Wilsey, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Thirty-two miles from New York. Accessible by Montauk division of Long Island railway; ferry from East Thirty-fourth street, New York. Only a short distance from railway station. Number of patients limited to 114. Minimum rate ten dollars per week. No telephone.

BRIGHAM HALL HOSPITAL – Canandaigua, Ontario County.
D. R. Burrell, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Situated on Bristol street, one mile from the New York Central and Northern Central railway station. Accessible by public carriages, always to be found at the station. Number of patients limited to seventy-eight. Minimum rate, ten dollars per week. Telephone No. 35, or “Brigham Hall.”

ST. VINCENT’S RETREAT – Harrison, Westchester County.
H. Ernst Schmid, M. D., Attending Physician, White Plains.
John J. Lewis, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Under management of the Sisters of Charity; for women only. Fifty minutes from New York on the New York and New Haven railway. Trains leave the Grand Central station, New York city, for Harrison, every hour from 9 A. M. to 7 P. M. Number of patients limited to sixty. Minimum rate, $10 per week. All official communications should be addressed to the physician in charge. Telephone No. 30, White Plains.

WALDEMERE – Mamaroneck, Westchester County.
E. N. Carpenter, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Forty minutes from New York on the New York, New Haven and Hartford railway. Trains leave Grand Central station, New York, every hoar for Mamaroneck. Waldemere is one mile from station, where public carriages may be found. Number of patients limited to eighteen. Minimum rate, $25 per week. No telephone.

SANFORD HALL – Flushing, Long Island.
J. W. Barstow, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Willett S. Brown, M. D., Assistant Physician.
Institution situated about one-half mile from Long Island railway station and accessible by public carriage. Going from Brooklyn, take Greenpoint or crosstown street car to Long Island City, thence on Long Island railway. Number of patients limited to thirty-six. Minimum rate, $25 per week. Telephone, Flushing 17 A.

BREEZEHURST TERRACE – Whitestone, Long Island.
D. A. Harrison, M. D., Physician in Charge.
John A. Arnold, M. D., Assistant Physician.
Accessible from New York city from East Thirty-fourth street ferry, via Long Island railway. Trains run every hour to Whitestone; time, thirty minutes. May also be reached by driving, via East Ninety-ninth street ferry to College Point, from which place it is about one and one-half miles. Going from Brooklyn, take the Greenpoint or crosstown street car to Long Island City. In taking patients from Brooklyn it is better to drive, as it only requires a little more than one hour via Grand street to Newtown, thence through Flushing to Whitestone. Number of patients limited to nineteen. Minimum rate, $20 per week. No telephone.

DR. WELLS’ SANITARIUM FOR MENTAL DISEASES.
945 St. Maek’s Avenue, Brooklyn.
Between Kingston and Albany avenues.
T. L. Wells, M. D., Physician in Charge.
The Sanitarium may be reached by the Bergen street car line, the Atlantic avenue railway or elevated railway from Brooklyn bridge. Stop at Albany avenue station of elevated road. Number limited to sixteen women patients. Minimum rate $10 per week. Telephone No. 69, Bedford.

DR. PARSONS’ HOME.
Sing Sing, Westchester County.
R. L. Parsons, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Location, one mile from New York Central station. Public carriages may be hired at the station. Number limited to twelve. Minimum rate, $75 per week, which includes all extras. No telephone.

DR. CHOATE’S HOME.
Pleasantville, Westchester County.
G. C. S. Choate, M. D., Physician in Charge.
One mile from Pleasantville station on Harlem railway, and two miles from Whitsons station of New York and Northern railway. New York Central trains stop at Tarrytown, six miles distant. Pleasantville is thirty miles north of New York city. Number limited to ten. Minimum rate, $75 per week, including all extras. No telephone communication.

DR. COMBES’ SANITARIUM.
Wood Haven, Long Island.
H. Elliott, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Best reached by Brooklyn elevated trains, from Brooklyn bridge, or East Twenty-third street ferry to Ridgewood, thence by Richmond Hill surface car to Flushing avenue, Wood Haven. Sanitarium two minutes walk to the right. Also easily accessible from Brooklyn, by carriage, via Myrtle avenue, to Flushing avenue, Wood Haven. One mile from Wood Haven Junction station, on the Long Island Railway. Number of patients limited to thirty-four. Minimum rate $10 per week. Telephone No. 7,1, East New York.

GLENMARY – Owego, Tioga County.
(Homeopathic.)
J. T. Greenleaf, M. D., Physician in Charge.
E. E. Snyder, M. D., Consulting Physician.
Three-fourths of a mile from railway stations, where public carriages may be obtained. Accessible by New York, Lake Erie and Western and by Delaware, Lackawanna and Western railways, and Southern Central Division, Lehigh Valley railway. Number of patients limited to fifty. Minimum rate, ten dollars per week. Telephone call, ” Glenmary.”

FALKIRK – Central Valley, Orange County.
James F. Ferguson, M. D., Physician in Charge.
David H. Sprague, M. D., Associate Physician.
One mile from Central Valley station, on Newburg branch of New York, Lake Erie and Western railway, forty-seven miles from New York city. Number of patients limited to thirty-four. Minimum rate, twenty dollars per week. Telephone, “Falkirk.”

VERNON HOUSE – Bronxville, Westchester County.
William D. Granger, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Post-office and telegraph, Bronxville. Accessible by the New Haven railway, to Mt. Vernon, or by Harlem railroad to Bronxville. Public carriages may be obtained at railway station. Number of patients limited to sixteen. Minimum rate, thirty-five dollars per week. No telephone.

THE PINES – Auburn, Cayuga County.
Frederick Sefton, M. D., Physician in Charge.
Accessible by the Auburn branch of the New York Central and Hudson River railway, and the Southern Central division of the Lehigh Valley railway. A little over three hours by rail from Rochester, four from Albany and Buffalo, seven from New York city. Number of patients limited to twelve. Minimum rate, twenty dollars per week. Telephone No. 261.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the Department of Mental Hygiene, State Commission In Lunacy, Fifth Annual Report, October 1, 1892, to September 30, 1893, Transmitted To The Legislature April 27, 1894, Volume 5, Part VII., Chapter 32, Asylum Directory, Albany: James B. Lyon, State Printer 1894, Pages 675 – 685.

Rochester State Hospital – Rochester, NY

Rochester State Hospital, formerly Monroe County Insane Asylum
Rochester, Monroe County, New York
1600 South Avenue

The history of the Rochester State Hospital is a little confusing because the lines blur between the Alms House and the Insane Asylum which would later be known as the Rochester State Hospital. Four structures stood on the same tract of land, facing South Avenue, between Elmwood and Highland Avenues, in the Town of Brighton. None of these structures remain. The original Monroe County Poor House or Alms House was built in 1826. The Work House was built in 1853 at the cost of $22,707.60 and contained ninety-two cells for men, women, and occasionally children. In 1865 and again in 1868, fires broke out and the buildings were replaced. In 1869, new brick buildings were constructed. At some point the Work House was renamed, the Penitentiary. Before county “Insane Asylums” the “insane” were kept in jails and county poor houses, separated from the other inmates and usually in chains or handcuffs. The first buildings of the Monroe County Insane Asylum were opened in the spring of 1857. It is at this point that the lines become blurred because the official year of the opening of the asylum is 1863.

According to W.H. McIntosh: In 1856, “there were thirty-seven insane confined in thirteen cells [in the alms house]. These cells were low, unventilated, and unwholesome, and in dimensions but four and a half by seven feet. In this small space were crowded as many as four persons, some of whom, wild and raving, were chained and handcuffed. There was no out-yard, and no guards to stoves to prevent self-inflicted injury. It was resolved to erect a permanent and convenient building especially for the insane. It was constructed at a cost of somewhat over three thousand dollars, during 1856 and 1857.” (1) The Monroe County Insane Asylum opened in the spring of 1857 to accommodate forty-eight people and was under the supervision of Colonel J.P. Wiggins and wife. An additional wing to house the superintendent and employees was completed in October 1859 at a cost of $26,791.57. Because of the lack of room, several patients still remained in the Poor House. In 1870, an additional wing was constructed to accommodate twenty-five more patients. In 1871, the number of inmates rose to one hundred. In 1872 an entirely new, main building was constructed with forty-one rooms at the cost of $18,000, and with various improvements close to $50,000. Dr. M.L. Lord was the warden and physician beginning in 1868.

According to the 1872 Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Monroe: “Your Committee in tracing back the history of Monroe County Insane Asylum to 1863, when, by an act of the Legislature, it was made a separate institution from the County Alms House, find that the whole number of inmates supported at that institution during the year was sixty-three. The number of inmates now in that institution have increased to 137, and has more than doubled during the last nine years…” (3, page 18).

The Alms House – In 1860, a building, “was set apart for the infirm old men.” (1) George E. McGonigal was the Superintendent, and Dr. Azel Backus was the physician. On February 28, 1872, a building committee was appointed for a new almshouse to be built at the cost of $59,600. “The almshouse was located midway between the insane asylum and the penitentiary, and fifty feet south. The architect employed was J.R. Thomas. The entire cost of the work was $72,948.44.” (1) In late 1872, the new Monroe County Alms House was completed and opened. It was built in front of the old and at some point thereafter, the original poor house was torn down.

The Insane Asylum – The State of New York purchased the land and the buildings of the Monroe County Insane Asylum for $50,000 bringing it into the State Care system. On July 1, 1891, it was renamed, Rochester State Hospital. Dr. Eugene H. Howard was the first Superintendent and served in that position for several years. (2) The Rochester State Hospital was torn down in the 1960s to make way for The Al Sigl Center. Rochester State Hospital faced South Avenue, the address was 1600 South Avenue. The Al Sigl Center faces Elmwood Avenue, the address is 1000 Elmwood Avenue.

So it appears that in 1857 a separate building was constructed for the sole purpose of becoming the Monroe County Insane Asylum. In 1863, by an act of the New York State Legislature, the asylum was officially separated from the alms house. In late 1872, the NEW Alms House was opened. In that same year, an entirely NEW main building was constructed for the Insane Asylum complete with a Mansard Roof. If you look at the sketch of these three buildings (W.H. McIntosh’s book of 1877), you can see that all three are separate but they stand side by side, three in a row: Far left, Penitentiary; Center, Alms House; Far right, Insane Asylum.

Work House, County Infirmary, Insane Asylum 1877

Work House, County Infirmary, Insane Asylum 1877

There is an interesting map that was drawn in 1984 during an excavation of Highland Park that shows the footprints of the original wood frame and brick buildings. At this time, the remains of approximately 900 people were discovered. (4) In April 2013, while researching the history of the poor house and the asylum, I came across the “Chaplain’s Report” from 1872 which stated that the unmarked cemetery, “familiarly known as the ‘bone yard,” was “an enclosed lot of the public farm in the rear of the penitentiary.” (3) This cemetery was located behind the old Penitentiary and was used to bury the inmates of the Penitentiary, Alms House, and Insane Asylum from 1826 until January 8, 1873 when the County Board of Supervisors directed the Superintendents of the Penitentiary and of the County Poor, “to discontinue the burial of paupers or criminals in the old burying ground attached to the penitentiary, and to have the remains of all such interred in Mount Hope cemetery.” (3) The county board of supervisors of 1872 were well aware that this cemetery existed but apparently, it was never recorded. Perhaps the document concerning this cemetery hasn’t been discovered yet. The Remember Garden in Highland Park marks the location of this long forgotten cemetery.

Map of Penitentiary, Poorhouse, Asylum

Map of Penitentiary, Poorhouse, Asylum

305 bodies were interred at Mount Hope Cemetery in 1985. The remaining bodies (approximately 600) (4) were left in the ground at Highland Park. The picture below shows a man preparing the ground for the monument that was or will be placed in memory of these original inmates. There is NO monument in Mount Hope Cemetery for the inmates of The Monroe County Insane Asylum / Rochester State Hospital, most of whom were buried in anonymous, unmarked graves in Section Y. If bill S2514-2013, which was introduced to the New York State Legislature by Senator Joseph Robach, becomes a law, then these people will no longer be anonymous.

Mount Hope Cemetery 11.2011

Mount Hope Cemetery 11.2011

“Work is now underway to install a monument in memory of the 305 Rochester poor house remains now interred in Mount Hope Cemetery. From the picture you can determine that the monument is in Section Y at the far west end. Note the Civil War plot, the Fireman’s monument and the Steam Gauge and Lantern Co. monument in the background. In July, 1984 when terracing land for a Highland Park addition, a bulldozer unearthed some human remains near the SE corner of Highland and South Ave. Investigation proved these burials were very old. It is believed they are from the Rochester poor house. The burials were not marked and the people were interred in the most simple wooden coffins. These remains underwent an examination prior to their reburial in Mount Hope Cemetery.” 11/2011

I have transcribed the earliest records: Names: Monroe County Poorhouse, Asylum, Penitentiary, Other Charities 1838 to 1860. If you believe that your ancestor was an inmate who lived and died at The Monroe County Insane Asylum / Rochester State Hospital you can search for them at the Rochester - Mt. Hope Cemetery Records online. Here is a brief description of what you will see if you decide to search the records for yourself: Under the heading “Residence,” a street name will be given with no specific address; or it will list the place where the person died such as: Insane Asylum, Asylum, County House, Jail, etc. (Be aware that there was an Asylum Street in the City of Rochester that as far as I know, had no connection with the Monroe County Insane Asylum). About 1891, you will start to see the words “Rochester State Hospital” under “Residence.” At some point in the 1900s, instead of listing the place of death as Rochester State Hospital the address has been given instead as “1600 South Avenue.” In some instances, the family of the deceased claimed the body and buried them in the family plot. In the case of pauper and indigent insane, the hospital buried them in unmarked, anonymous graves at Mount Hope Cemetery. Some unclaimed bodies were donated by state hospitals to state medical colleges for the advancement of medical science in which case no grave will be found.

SOURCES:

1 – McIntosh, W.H., History of Monroe County, New York; With Illustrations Descriptive Of Its Scenery, Palatial Residences, Public Buildings, Fine Blocks, and Important Manufactories, From Original Sketches By Artists Of The Highest Ability. Philadelphia: Everts, Ensign & Everts, 1877, Pages 45-47, Transcribed by L.S. Stuhler.

2 – Hurd, Henry Mills; Drewry, William Francis; Dewey, Richard; Pilgrim, Charles Winfield; Blumer, George Adler, The Institutional Care of the Insane in the United States and Canada, The John Hopkins Press, Baltimore, Maryland, 1916, Pages 199-200, Transcribed by L.S. Stuhler.

3. – Proceedings of the Board of Supervisors of the County of Monroe, for 1872, Rochester, N.Y., Steam Press of Curtis, Morey & Co., Union And Advertiser Office, 1872, Pages 18, 211, 212.

4. – Steckel, Richard H. and Rose, Jerome C., The Backbone of History: Health and Nurtrition in the Western Hemisphere, Cambridge University Press, 2002, Page 162.

Friends of Mt. Hope Cemetery - The Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery are a wonderful group of knowledgeable volunteers who will help you locate your loved one and provide you with all the information you need to locate the grave.

Facebook – Friends of Mt. Hope

USGenWeb Monroe County, NY – Mt. Hope Cemetery Tombstone Transcriptions

Records of the Rochester State Hospital

Photographs of Memorial to Residents of Almshouse, Insane Asylum & Penitentiary by L.S. Stuhler

History of Mount Hope Cemetery – McIntosh 1877

Rochester History – Life and Death in Nineteenth Century Rochester by Ruth Rosenberg-Naparsteck, pages 12 – 22.

1872 “Bone Yard” – The Remember Garden – Rochester, NY by L.S. Stuhler

1873 Monroe County Poor House

The Willard and Rochester State Hospital Connection by L.S. Stuhler

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE VIDEO They’re Buried Where? by Seth Voorhees

The Inmates Of Willard 1870 to 1900  A Genealogy Resource by L.S. Stuhler