1882 High Expectations Disappointed

High Expectations Disappointed
From the Rochester Democrat, November 19, 1882.

Willard State Hospital, Main Building, circa 1898.

Willard State Hospital, Main Building, circa 1898.

Willard Asylum for the Insane, at Ovid, has among its inmates a Danish lady of good education, and who, previous to the loss of her reason, occupied a respectable position in society. Her delusion is that she is immensely wealthy – the Queen of the universe. On all other subjects she is rational, and converses with ease and fluency. She has an idea that the asylum is her castle, built for her special benefit, and that the attendants and inmates are her servants. Recently she managed to elude the vigilance of the attendants and mail a letter to a brother in Denmark, stating that she had become wealthy and was living in a magnificent mansion surrounded by luxury and attendants, and had abundance to provide for himself and family, and closed by urging him to accept her hospitality and spend the balance of his life with her. Having frequently heard of the good luck of his countrymen in the land across the sea, he did not have a suspicion but what fortune had favored his sister and that she had actually become rich. He therefore proceeded immediately to close out his little tailoring business, in which he had managed with difficulty to support his family, and with the proceeds purchased tickets for the transportation of his wife and five children to Central New York. Allowing the letter announcing his intention of coming only a few days’ start, the little family took ship for America with light hearts and great expectations. Arriving in New York, they set aside barely sufficient to take them to their destination and spent the remainder in improving their appearance so that they should not bring discredit upon their rich kinswoman. On reaching Ovid they recognized Willard from the description given in the sister’s letter. At the asylum, nobody being able to talk Danish, the attendants were in a quandary what to do. Finally an old Dane was found, and the true state of affairs was made known to both parties. The cruel disappointment of the brother and his wife was pitiable. Instead of finding a wealthy sister to welcome them to her palatial abode, they found her in a hopeless condition and an inmate of an insane asylum, and they penniless in a strange land. The hearts of the managers were touched by the piteous scene, and a snug sum was made up and a situation was provided for the man in the laundry of the asylum.
SOURCE: Reprinted from “The New York Times” Published November 27, 1882, Copyright @ The New York Times.

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