This blog contains the History of The Willard Asylum for the Insane (Willard State Hospital), Former New York State Insane Asylums (State Hospitals), Custodial Institutions, County Poor Houses, and Mental Illness of the 19th Century. Current Information on Anonymous Graves, Historical Articles, Laws, Eugenics, Patient Names, and Helpful Links Abound! The Blog is an Extension of My Book and Was Created for Descendants of Former Patients, Genealogy Geeks, and History Buffs. Hopefully, This Blog Will Make People Aware of the Thousands of People Who Were Buried in Anonymous Graves in Former New York State Hospital & Custodial Institution Cemeteries. The Book and Blog Have Been Researched, Written, and Developed by Linda S. Stuhler.
This blog has 11 PAGE TABS (located at the top of each page), 213 POSTS and many PDF files. PLEASE CLICK ON THE RED & BLUE LINKS.
I started this blog on July 10, 2011, thinking that maybe 5 people would actually read it and find the posts interesting. I self-published The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900: A Genealogy Resource, on December 17, 2011, with my own money, to further the cause of restoring dignity to the forgotten people who lived and died at New York State Hospitals (Insane Asylums), who had been buried on New York State property in anonymous, unmarked cemeteries and graves for over a century. New York State Senate Bill S840A-2015 became a law on August 18, 2016, but it did not include provisions for a searchable online database available to the public as New York State lawmakers and the Office of Mental Health believed that if they did so, they would be sued. I believe that the New York State Office of Mental Health did not want to disclose the names of deceased patients because the burial ledgers may have been stolen, carelessly lost or destroyed. They would also have to explain why these cemeteries had never been marked in over 150 years, why they fell into such a state of neglect and disrepair in the first place, and why Kings Park State Hospital Cemetery is being used as a youth baseball field. The following states took a different approach and put searchable databases on the internet available to the public: Kansas; Minnesota; Nebraska; Ohio; Texas; Maryland; Florida; Washington; and even Binghamton State Hospital of New York.
The reason why New York State Hospitals / Insane Asylums, Feeble-Minded and Epileptic Custodial Institutions are so important to the world is because there were 26 of them, possibly more. These institutions housed many newly arrived immigrants during the mid 19th and early 20th centuries from all over the world, especially Western Europe. I’m sure that there are plenty of people who would like to know the final resting place of their long, lost ancestor. It just doesn’t seem fair to me that this one stigmatized group of people are being denied the one and only thing that we really have to be remembered by; our name. Even though I initiated the original bill in August 2011 and it was introduced to the New York State Senate by Senator Joseph E. Robach in March 2012, I didn’t write it. This is the bill that I would have written:
“This bill is important and necessary in order to restore the dignity and personhood of the thousands of people who were incarcerated and died at former New York State Insane Asylums, (later renamed State Hospitals), Feeble-Minded and Epileptic Custodial Institutions. When the bodies of the inmates were not claimed by family members, they were buried in anonymous, unmarked graves, or, their bodies and brains were given to medical colleges for research. These forgotten souls deserve to have their names remembered and available to the public by means of a searchable internet database. Some of these deceased patients were undoubtedly United States Veterans who served during the Civil War, WWI, WWII, Korea, and Viet Nam, who suffered from PTSD and Shell Shock. Their graves deserve to be marked with the American Flag and honored like any other veteran’s grave.
The list of these former New York State Hospitals includes but is not limited to: Binghamton, Buffalo, Central Islip, Creedmoor, Dannemora, Edgewood, Gowanda, Hudson River, Kings Park, Long Island, Manhattan, Marcy, Matteawan, Middletown, Mohansic, Pilgrim, Rochester, St. Lawrence, Syracuse, Utica, and Willard.
The Feeble-Minded (Intellectual Disabilities) and Epileptic Custodial Institutions of New York includes but is not limited to: Craig Colony for Epileptics, Letchworth Village for Epileptics & Intellectually Disabled, Newark State School for Intellectually Disabled Women, Rome State School for Intellectually Disabled Adults & Children, and Syracuse State School for Intellectually Disabled Children. There may be more.
There is no good reason why these long deceased souls need to be punished and stigmatized in death for an illness or intellectual disability that they lived with in life. The great majority of these former state hospitals closed in favor of smaller group home settings or changed their names to Psychiatric Centers in the early 1970s. This in turn led to many patients being thrown onto the streets to live in cardboard boxes, or thrown into jail with no psychiatric services, just as they did 150 years ago. I do not understand why anyone would need to have their name withheld from any cemetery list until 50 years had passed after their death. This requirement in the bill only serves to feed the stigma.”
I had three objectives for writing the book: to make the names of the Inmates Of The Willard Asylum For The Insane (Willard State Hospital) from the U.S. Federal Censuses available to people who are searching for an ancestor; to share the old documents that I have collected and transcribed; and to make people aware of the thousands of patients who are buried in anonymous, unmarked graves. It is my hope that the names; dates of birth and death; and location of graves, of ALL former patients who lived and died in New York State Hospitals (Insane Asylums) and Custodial Institutions are released to the public so that these forgotten ancestors can be honored and remembered with dignity.
Although this book deals with the specifics of Willard and its inmates; the laws, rules, and regulations applied to all county poor houses, city alms houses, and public and private insane asylums in the State of New York during the nineteenth century. It outlines the struggle between the county poor house system of caring for the insane and the eventual takeover by the state hospital system. The history of the treatment of people who were labeled as insane belongs to us all and should not be shrouded in secrecy. The names of the former Inmates of Willard can be found on the internet from such sources as the U.S. Federal Censuses, genealogy websites, historical documents, and books; everywhere except where they should be, on headstones in New York State Hospital cemeteries.
My personal interpretations and transcriptions of the names from U.S. Federal Censuses for the years 1870, 1880, 1900, and 1920, including the Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Census of 1880, are disseminated onto 199 pages located on this blog under the “Names” tab. Unfortunately, the spreadsheets did not fit into the book. The censuses do not include every person who ever walked through the doors nor do they reveal who died there.
For Willard State Hospital Inquires Mail or Fax the completed form to:
Greater Binghamton Health Center
425 Robinson Street
Phone: (607) 724-1391; Fax: (607) 773-4387; TTY: (607) 773-4255
Names of The Inmates of Willard 1870, 1880, 1900 & 1920.
Willard Asylum Cemetery (Veterans Names) Military Section, Seneca County, NY.
This is very interesting history. Very spirit touching.
Researching family history I have found reference to a great uncle who was in Kings Park Hospital in the 1920 and 1930 census and in Middleton Hospital in the 1940 census. I now live in Ireland but wonder if there is any way of getting information about the relation. Interestly between 1930 and 1940 his race changed from white to negro but I assume that was a mistake of the census innumerator
I’m trying to track down any record of General Thomas W. Egan (American Civil War veteran) who I believe was taken to Ward’s Island between 1883-1885. Are you able to assist?
Francis, did you try looking for him over at Newspapers.com, or the Old Fulton NY Post Cards Newspaper Archives to see if you can find a clipping trail? There is also the NY State Military Museum.
My GG Uncle James Francis McMullen died here and is one of the unmarked graves. So very sad. He was shot in the face at The Battle of Cedar Mountain and it is theorized that this caused him to have mental health issues.
Why does Willard not disclose the patients from 1921-1995? I have a great grandma who was there in the years after that and I can’t find her because of it maybe you can help? If you can email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org
Believe that they may have sent them to Tompkins county in1985 my great grandmother was sent to Ithaca which is Tomkins county good hunting and ask a nurse or doctor if they can discuss them with you and look on Facebook for suitcases in the attic to a express yourself Ttylk
Hi. My not for profit is doing a production based on Nellie Blys expose on Blackwell Lunatic Asylum. We would love to have a talk back with an expert on this field. Would you consider coming perhaps? You can find more info of the show at:
My not for profit is doing a show based on Nellie Blys expose. We are hoping to do a talk back with someone who has knowledge on asylums outside of just Blackwell as well as current issues concerning mental institutions. We would love to have you come to the show if you are interested.
Feel free to contact for further info.
You can read a bit about the show at:
Dear Ashley, I am honored that you have invited me but I have to decline. However, I will always offer insight to any questions you may have. Please read over the following 3 articles. They may answer many of your questions. Thank you again for inviting me! Sincerely, Lin
Elizabeth Jane Cochran was Nellie Bly
Manhattan State Hospital & Cemetery
1880 The Treatment Of The Insane
I’m trying to find the poor house that was in Clinton County, New York. My great, great, grandmother’s brother was sent there as an adult; I’m assuming that his mother could no longer care for him. I’m trying to find out when he died. His name was Ellsworth Sartwell and he was admitted there on Nov. 13, 1907. Thank you.
It was just called Clinton County Poor House. Someone has him as passed away in 1930. Have you been able to g
find more info?
I found a death notice saying that he died on Dec. 17th 1907 in Beekmantown, N.Y.
Im looking for anything on Mary Carney Donohue or Mrs Jeremiah Donohue ,newspapers.com says she was totally insane and confined to Binghamton insane Asylum from 1886-1901 when she died..she was buried in family plot in S Glens Falls NY.
I just discovered that one of my ancestors, Emil Albrecht, b1894 in Poughkeepsie, was a troublesome child and was sent to The Catholic Perfectory in Brooklyn in 1909. Below is the link to his specific record why he was sent there. Theft and he was arrested 4 times. He would have been only 15 years old.
By 1915, he is on the census at the Rome State Custodial Asylum.
By 1917, his draft registration card says he is an imbecile.
By December 12,1918, he is dead at age 24. https://www.newspapers.com/image/114490137/?terms=william%2Balbrecht
It was not noted in his file at The Catholic Perfectory that he was insane or anything along those lines. Why would he end up at this awful place???
Unlike others, there is actually an obituary in 1918 with his death at age 24 and that he would be buried in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery.
Are there any records besides the annual reports for the RSCA?
Thank you for all of the resources, so educational!
Dawn Albrecht Schreter
My grandmother Betty urban was raised in Poughkeepsie. Wow! Small world
According to the details, the parents seemed disinterested in taking responsibility for him. He died in there in his 20’s. Not sure if that was a thing back then. My grandpa was raised in Poughkeepsie and met my grandma there. Settled In Hartford, Ct.
It really is a small world:)
My mother was in Middletown state hospital. Is it possible to get any kind of medical records or even verification that she was there. We don’t know anything about her.
What was her name and do you know about when she was born?
Hi, Linda thank you for dedication and concern to this. My grand uncle left the Philippines and went to US in 1925, he was 27 then. Since then our great grand parents been trying to communicate with him but failed, My unlce tried to locate for him ibut he was not succesful too. I tried to continue the search, until I found in findagrave.com that he died in 1976 at the age of 78 and was last residence was in Willard and was burried in Willard Cemetery. Our family wanted to know what happened to him and why he ended there. We supposed to request medical records and start from there to find what happened to him for 50 years. I will appreaciate so much If you could you pls suggest how and where we will start to search these documents and email to email@example.com. Thank you so much.
sorry Linda, may email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi so sorry, I only got this message now, my grand uncle’s name is Dimas De Peralta, I have a copy now of his death certificate, I would appreciate if you could help me know how he ended up there and or anypictures of him. His exact date of death was Nov, 24, 1975 per death certificate at the age of 76. My mom who is now 89 and still asking what happened to him. It is a great help to us and find closure. Thank you so much.
Hi, his name is Dimas De Peralta, his exact date of death Nov 24, 1975, his date of birth per death cert was March 24, 1898.
Looking for info from Middletown Homeopathic Hospital, 1930 to 1932, for great grandmother.
My great-grandmother, Maria (Slocum?) Hazel was in the Livingston County Poorhouse in Geneseo or Mt. Morris in 1872, at which time she was sent to Willard, and after which time I can not find anything about her. She had at least two sons, John and Marcus. How do I find out more about her???
My great-grandmother, Laura (Scott) Reese, born in NY in 1850, disappears in Brooklyn, NY about 1902 – was arrested that year for alcohol related issues. I have never been able to find her death record. I’ve always wondered if she was perhaps buried in one of these anonymous cemeteries. What year did they stop burying the patients there in Binghamton?
Im looking for Wilma Urban my great grandmother. I only know she was in a new york institution due to mental illness
I need my great grandmother’s information from Willard and Ithaca/Tompkins county where she passed away in the year of 1985
I am looking for anything on my great grandmother Bertha Mae chriscaden/ Stephens she was 36 when place there highest level in school was 6th grade I’m not sure if you kept her records or any belongings she may have had
607)2441991 is a number you may call .. I beg you for my mental health.please please help me call me something
My Willard family is interested in learning more about what happened to our Civil War veteran ancestor, Charles Dennison Willard (1843-1910). He died at the Bath Old Soldiers & Sailors Home and buried in Malone NY. with a big marker. Trying to find out if a Charles Willard (no middle initial) incarcerated at Dannemore (1880 Federal Census) is the same man. Occupation there is listed as “fireman Railroad” and perhaps a hint as we know he did work for railroad (per 1870 Census). Family is from Malone, Franklin, NY. There’s also a Charles Willard (no middle name) Clinton Prison (1874, 1878). We know Willard’s wife moved to Calif alone with their small son and joined her parents and extended family there … Charles Dennison Willard did not go with her. Why? Was the family split up due to his actions and was he in prison? Did he suffer from effects of battle as he was in a NY Infantry Regiment for duration of Civil War (1861-1865). Brutal experience for many solders. Any ideas to help us along to solve this family mystery? Thanks so much!
Hello! I am looking for my sister, Mary Teresa Zangl, who was at Willard from about 1990 until they closed. Born in 1954. Unsure of her whereabouts when they closed. Any lead or suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
Hello I am looking for Samuel Merritt Hallock who died here in 1895