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.


1851 Kings County Lunatic Asylum, Flatbush, New York

This particular article from The New York Times discusses the creation of the Kings County Lunatic Asylum located at Flatbush, New York. This building would eventually become part of the Long Island State Hospital.

The New Lunatic Asylum – On Saturday last, some of the Board of Supervisors went to view the site selected by the Special Committee to whom the matter was referred, for the erection of this institution.

After a discussion which has occupied the Board ever since the passage of the bill by the Legislature authorizing them to raise the necessary funds, this report was adopted, and the Committee authorized to treat with the owner upon terms so nearly equal to those upon which he offered to sell, that there is every reason to hope this too long deferred undertaking will immediately be seen about in right earnest.

The lamentable condition of some of the inmates of the present wooden structure at Flatbush, owning to the over crowded state of the building, has been fully brought to public notice in the late proceedings of the Board of Supervisors. Raving maniacs are confined in cells so circumscribed in space and accommodation, that they cannot be restrained from inflicting serious violence upon each other – and placed in rooms overlooking the public highway exposed to the unthinking mockery of the passing idler, frequently exciting their already merely disorganized imaginations to a state of raving madness.

The site selected for the New Building is at the extreme end of the City, in the VIIIth Ward, bounded by 58th-st., and the Third Avenue, and the New Utrecht line. The contents are about forty acres, affording ample accommodation; and the view commanded cannot be excelled in the whole county. The entire Bay, the Ocean, Staten Island, and the cities of New York and Brooklyn are fully comprehended within its range.

There have been a great many conflicting interests at work on this subject, but the price has been the only objection to the site in question, and that by those who recommend one two miles further from the city boundary, confessedly not possessing the same advantages, and the difference in price not exceeding $100 an acre, for one portion, and $200 for the other.

An objection is raised that the avenues will be blocked by this site, and that the projected Fifty-ninth-street bisects it. On the other hand it is urged, and truly, that the effect will only be to shorten the avenues by one block, the location being the extremity of the city, and the Third-avenue and the one on the other extremity will be quite sufficient outlet for the traffic to New-Utrecht and with regard to Fifty-ninth-street, that the Corporation would not permit it to be opened, even if there was any one to apply, which there is not, as they will themselves own the whole projected line, except a short distance to the Bay, on which the owner’s private house stands. If the question is carried, the building (according to the plans submitted and approved,) so placed would be an ornament and credit to the county. And we ardently hope to see the undertaking carried out, and that a few hundred dollars will not prove a stumbling block in the way of so desirable an object.”

SOURCE: The New York Times. Published: October 7, 1851, Copyright @ The New York Times.

Long Island State Hospital & Cemetery

After 1893 Long Island State Hospital (Flatbush) served the counties of Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk.

1916 Long Island State Hospital.
1851 Kings County Lunatic Asylum, Flatbush, New York.
1893 Shocking Desecration Charged, Flatbush Insane Asylum.
New York City Map.

I’m still trying to figure out all the different “lunatic asylums” of New York City. From the beginning, New York and Kings Counties were exempted from The Willard Act. In 1893, the State of New York purchased these properties and brought them into the State Care System, the State Care Act being passed in 1890, and under the control of The State Commission in LunacyOn July 1, 1895, the Kings County Lunatic Asylum at Flatbush AND Kings Park (re-named in 1891, formerly St. Johnland) became the Long Island State Hospital. From everything that I have read, the New York City area asylums and poor houses of the 1800s were the worst in the state, mainly because they were so over crowded.

New York City is composed of five boroughs: Manhattan (New York County), The Bronx (Bronx County), Brooklyn (Kings County), Queens (Queens County), Staten Island (Richmond County). LONG ISLAND contains four counties: Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk. Apparently in today’s vernacular, “Long Island” refers to the suburban counties of Nassau and Suffolk only, in order to differentiate them from New York City even though all four counties are located on Long Island. MANHATTAN is a separate island.

was an independent city until January 1, 1898, when, according to the Charter of Greater New York, Brooklyn was consolidated with the other boroughs to form the modern City of New York. Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County since 1896.

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Kings Park State Hospital & Cemetery

On January 1, 1891, the farm colony at St. Johnland was renamed, Kings Park. On July 1, 1895, the Kings County Lunatic Asylum at Flatbush and Kings Park became the Long Island State Hospital. After 1895, Kings Park State Hospital served the counties of Kings, Queens, Nassau, and Suffolk.

1916 Kings Park State Hospital.
1851 Kings County Lunatic Asylum at Flatbush, New York.
The Lost Kirkbrides: Brooklyn State Hospital.
Erasing the Past at the Ghost Hospital – New York Times.
Kings Park Psychiatric Center – OPACITY
Kings Park Psychiatric Center’s Building 93 – AbandonedNYC – Will Ellis.

“Besides the regularly organized institutions, there are two asylums for the insane poor, which, as they are separate from the other almshouse departments, and receive a pretty large number of patients, claim attention in this place. During the last fifteen years, the insane in the Almshouse of King’s County, New York, the county which embraces the city of Brooklyn within its limits, have occupied a building erected especially for their accommodation, disconnected from the other edifices of the establishment, and at some distance from them. It is at Flatbush, and is called the King’s County Lunatic Asylum. The report for the fiscal year ending with the 31st of July, 1854, is signed by Dr. E. S. Blanchard, the resident physician.

Patients in the asylum at the beginning of the year: Men 74; Women 113; Total 187.
Admitted in the course of the year: Men 59; Women 78; Total 137.
Whole number in the course of the year: Men 133; Women 191; Total 324.
Discharged cured: Men 41; Women 81; Total 122.
Died: Men 14; Women 10; Total 24.
Remaining, July 31, 1854: Men 78; Women 100; Total 178.

Died of peritonitis, 4; phthisis, 3; cholera, 3; empyema, 3; diarrhoea, 3; exhaustion, 2; marasmus, 2: epilepsy,2; “typhoids,” 1; softening of the cerebellum, 1. But two patients in the course of the year were subjected to mechanical restraint. One of these had the suicidal propensity, the other was labouring under violent mania. Of the 178 patients remaining in the asylum at the close of the year, 134 were foreigners. It appears that some pay-patients are received, the expenses of 16 of those who were in the asylum during the year having been defrayed by their friends.

At the time this report was written, a new edifice, to be occupied by the insane, was in progress. It “is erected on the county farm, on a beautiful site, and commands many delightful views of the surrounding country. When finished, it will compare favourably with any other institution of a similar nature in the world. It is 250 feet in its extreme length, 84 feet in its extreme breadth, and the height to the top of the dome is 86 feet. The halls and dormitories present a light and airy appearance. The rooms are 7 by 11 feet. The height of the ceilings ranges from 14 to 10 feet. Each room is lighted by a large window, on the outside of which there is a light iron guard frame. The whole building will be heated by steam,” the radiating pipes being in an air-chamber in the cellar. “The entire structure is of brick, trimmed with stone. This establishment was opened on the 1st of November, 1855, under the medical care of Dr. Robert B. Baiseley. Although it was intended for but about 150 patients, yet, ever since it was opened, the actual number present has been as high as from 190 to 200.”
SOURCE: The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, Edited by Isaac Hays, M.D., Volume XXXIII, Philadelphia: Blanchard & Lea, 1857, Pages 164-165.

Kings county and New York county provide for their insane under special statutes. The former county provides for 800 or 1000 insane and the latter for over 1,700. On Ward’s island is situated the State Emigrant Insane Asylum which provides for the insane emigrants for the term of five years from the time of their landing in this country. This asylum furnishes accommodations for about 200 patients. The annual expense per patient in this institution is $150. The per capita cost of building $1,138 and the total annual cost, $22,500. There are upward of 500 patients in private asylums so that the insane population of New York state is probably not far from 7,000 or 8,000 at the present time. . .

The annual expense per patient in the two New York county institutions is in the New York City Asylum for the insane $92.89, and for the New York Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s island $73.84. The annual expense per patient in the Kings County Lunatic Asylum, situated at Flatbush, L. I., is $120. The total annual cost for these three county institutions for the insane is as follows: New York City Asylum for the insane, Ward’s island, $53,504 ; New York Lunatic Asylum, Blackwell’s island, $89,420 ; Kings County Lunatic Asylum, Flatbush, $92,400. . .”
SOURCE: Proceedings of the Conference Of Charities, Held In Connection With The General Meeting of the American Social Science Association, Detroit, May 1875, Tolman & White Printers, Boston, Mass., October 1875, Page 56.

“In 1885, the decision was made to purchase eight hundred seventy-three acres of farmland out on a rural stretch of north central Long Island in order to build a farming colony that would act as an annex for the hospital. Three temporary wooden structures were built on that land, until proper facilities could be later erected. These structures were located in the small village of St. Johnland, a part of Smithtown, which is located in Suffolk County, New York. The three temporary structures were used to house the first fifty-five patients of this new hospital annex.”

“In 1891, the town of St. Johnland changed its name to Kings Park. Many believe the name derived from the Kings County connection with the hospital, but that is not the case. The name actually came from the Long Island Railroad Station located on Indian Head Road, which had only changed its name when the St. Johnland Society complained about the railroad using its name without permission. The railroad station was renamed Kings Park Station and the town changed its name soon afterwards for the same reasons. By 1895, the asylum was taken over by the state, after complaints of corruption became rampant. It wasn’t until the year 1900 when it also took on a new name, as it became known as the Long Island State Hospital at Kings Park. Only five years later the name of the hospital was changed, again. This time it was named Kings Park State Hospital, which is the name it would maintain for many years to come, until the mid-1970s when it would eventually become the Kings Park Psychiatric Center.”
SOURCE: No Hope For The Hopeless At Kings Park by Jason Medina, Tribal Publications, Inc., Yonkers, New York, 2013, Pages 334-335.

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.