Craig Colony for Epileptics & Cemetery

Craig Colony – New York State Custodial Institution for Epileptics.

1916 Craig Colony State Custodial Institution For Epileptics.
Craig Colony Cemetery Names – Find A Grave.
UPDATE Craig Colony for Epileptics Cemetery – June 2013.

Craig Colony for Epileptics

Craig Colony for Epileptics

Photograph courtesy of The Museum of disABILITY History

The Craig Colony for Epileptics was established in 1894 following the discovery of a promising new method of treatment for people with epilepsy. This method, known as the ‘colony care plan,’ was discovered by Dr. Frederick Peterson, a physician at the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane. He had observed that the epileptic patients under his care were subjected to conditions that provided little remedy for their illness, and became interested in the search for ways to improve their treatment. In 1886, while on an “inspection tour of foreign asylums,” he came across Bethel Colony in the city of Bielefeld, located in the Westphalia region of Germany. Bethel Colony consisted of several thousand people with epilepsy living and working together to create a self-sufficient community. There were no secret remedies, and no all-healing drugs, there was simply attention paid to a proper diet, proper habits and a therapeutic environment. Most importantly, the inhabitants labored during the day to bring about a healthy physiological fatigue. Physicians believed that this helped exert energy that would otherwise have been released during an epileptic seizure.” (American Journal of Insanity, Vol. 49, 1893).

It appears that Craig Colony had at least some engraved headstones.

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

THE BAD NEWS: Thousands Remain Nameless! 6.15.2015.

THE GOOD NEWS: One Man Is Remembered! 6.14.2015.


7 thoughts on “Craig Colony for Epileptics & Cemetery

  1. Hi. Thank you so much for your work documenting and remembering this history and the people served by these institutions and policies. I am looking for information on a Henry Cephas, who was institutionalized at Craig Colony circa 1905. He was brought there from Auburn, NY. He had been a minister, I believe, until his epilepsy became so severe he could not longer work. It is my understanding that he had been cared for by Harriet Tubman, who sheltered him in her home in Auburn (Fleming). Any genealogical information would be very helpful. Thank you.


  2. I cannot express in words how important this legislation be put in place…my Uncle was an “inmate” at Craigs Colony due to his being an epileptic. His name was Carl Worman. I have no idea when he died or where he is buried. Having the knowledge of a date of death and where his body is interred is of great importance to my family and I.


    • I found my Uncle after doing some research; and the true spelling of my name which was NOT changed at Ellis Island. I did a stone by stone search, twice, before I found it. I have to believe that I am the only family member (nephew) who ever visited my uncle’s grave. All stones are the size of a cereal box.


  3. I ran into a local resident at the cemetery who told me residents were treated with electrical shock therapy and rattlesnake venom. I welcome all comments about this. I would like to someday read my uncle’s death certificate.


  4. Treatments, by todays standards, may seem to have been barbaric but at that time they were cutting edge, best practice treatments. Much the same as todays laser surgeries to correct vision or bariatric surgeries to treat obesity. They may be viewed the same 100 years from now.


  5. I have been searching for information on my mother’s uncle, George Egan 1903-1945 (I believe).
    He was the son of Dr Andrew Egan & Ellen ‘Nellie’ Egan – his mother died when he was 6 and
    his father in 1931. After his father’s death his step-mother had him sent Craig. Reading this breaks my heart – thinking about him all alone there.


    • I too am searching for info on my Mom’s Uncle who was placed in Craig’s Colony…there is so little information and nothing regarding his death…all I have been able to gather is from the New York Census’….so sad…why are we not able to access the info that the State Of New York holds regarding these individuals listed as “inmates”?


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