1893 Shocking Desecration Charged, Flatbush Insane Asylum

Shocking Desecration Charged.
Flatbush Insane Asylum Doctors Said to Have Profaned a Dead Woman’s Body.

“I heard something the other day,” said a Brooklyn woman to a reporter for The New-York Times, “which I think should be made public. It was the story of what a certain doctor did who is employed in the Asylum for the Insane at Flatbush. My informant’s name I withhold for the reason that if I should give it to you a person related to him who is now employed in the asylum would certainly lose his place.

“My informant tells me that about a week ago an aged woman died at the hospital who had been there for a long time. According to the regulations of the institution, the doctor referred to, in company with others of the medical staff, viewed the corpse.

“The doctors were in a merry mood and made quite a lark of the inspection by cracking jokes about the body, and altogether behaving in an unseemly manner. Finally, as I am informed, one of the doctors took a cigarette out of his case and, approaching the bedside, said: ‘Let’s give the old lady a smoke.’

“Immediately thereafter he pried open the lips of the corpse and placed the cigarette between them. ” ‘How’s that, old gal?’ he exclaimed, and then all hands gathered about and made sport of what they saw.”

Dr. Tracey, physician in charge at the Kings County Insane Asylum at Flatbush, was seen by a reporter for The New-York Times and the foregoing statement was laid before him. At first his face flushed and then he gasped out: “It’s false – a malicious falsehood!”

“Doctor, I would like to know before we go any further what deaths occurred Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of last week of old women who had been inmates here for a long time.” said the reporter.

“How ling do you call a ling time?” the doctor asked; then added, “I cannot give you any information upon this subject. It is an imputation upon the whole staff of the asylum, and until the matter in complaint is laid before the Commissioners of Charities and Correction, I refuse to open my mouth.”

“Why do you refuse me the information which I seek?” asked the reporter. “Because I don’t choose to give it,” he replied. As the reporter was leaving him Dr. Tracey said: I haven’t said anything, you know.” Dr. Sylvester, the Superintendent, was away and could not be seen.

The reporter then visited the rooms of the Commissioners of Charities and Correction at Elm Place and Livingston Street, Brooklyn, where he saw Col. Gott, President of the board, and Commissioner Murphy. He learned there that Mary Hamilton; a woman sixty years of age and friendless, had died at the asylum a week ago yesterday, and that Elizabeth F. Meyer, seventy years of age, also friendless, had died there the next afternoon. One of these, doubtless Mary Hamilton, is the subject whose inanimate remains were so grossly maltreated.

On hearing the story, Commissioner Murphy at once expressed his absolute disbelief in its truthfulness. President Gott, however, thought that it might not be entirely without foundation, although he said his inclination was to regard it as he had come to regard all anonymous communications, “very gingerly.”

In speaking of the matter he said: “A thing of that kind might occur, but it is highly improbable. I do not think Dr. Sylvester, the Superintendent, would retain a doctor one minute when he learned of it. You know that the under help and staff at the asylum are beyond our reach, as we have no power to remove or appoint anyone except the Superintendent. We are constantly receiving many anonymous communications similar to this one, and when investigated they prove groundless, as I believe this one also will.”
SOURCE: The New York Times. Published: September 11, 1893. Copyright @ The New York Times.

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One thought on “1893 Shocking Desecration Charged, Flatbush Insane Asylum

  1. Pingback: Long Island State Hospital & Cemetery | The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900 / A Genealogy Resource

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