Friday, May 11, 2012

Can't Cure Crazy?

Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane,  Poughkeepsie,NY

                      and the diagnosis is...

     Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my 2nd great-grandmother, Flora was in the insane asylum back in 1892.  What a discovery...

"wife place in the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane at Poughkeepsie, NY"

     Those were the words I read in the U.S. Special Census on Deaf Family Marriages and Hearing Relatives, 1888-1895.  I actually found this census while looking up records for my 2nd great-grandfather, Daniel Davis.  Section II of this particular census was filled out by the husband and had information such as parents names, whether deaf or hearing, age when deafness occurred and cause of deafness, if admitted to an institution - the residence when admitted and age.  The wife's section was not filled out except for the letter 'D' to indicate 'deaf' and the statement regarding her being placed in the hospital.  Well, actually there was another question on the wife's page that was answered.  The question asking the residence when admitted to an institution had the answer 'NY'.  At first I thought that maybe the third party man who signed and dated this census put the same answer as the husband.  I thought it was wrong because Flora was from Ohio.  Then I thought that maybe Daniel and Flora first met at the deaf school.  Daniel was from New York.  Why else would he be in Ohio unless it was to go back with Flora to her home state or to meet her again in Ohio.  Daniel left school in 1878 and was listed with his family in the 1880 U.S. Census.
     Daniel Davis and Flora Braught were married in 1884 in the state of Ohio.  There is no 1890 U.S. Census due to fire.  This special census on deaf marriages was filled out in 1892 so if Daniel and Flora weren't living in NY at that time then maybe they were visiting his family.  The 1900 census shows them living in OH and by the 1910 census they were living in Brooklyn, NY.
     What happened to Flora?  What caused my 2nd great-grandmother to become a resident of the Hudson River State Hospital for the Insane?  She was only 29 years old and had two young children.  Her son, Samuel, my great-grandfather was just 8 years old when his mother was in the hospital.  I wonder if that was part of Samuel's behavioral problems, besides the fact that both his parents were deaf and he was not.  I had already written about Samuel's 'incorrigible' behavior being the reason he was admitted to a reform school as a young teenager.  That was before I found out his mother was put in a state hospital when he was a child.
     It  seems like the prescription for everything back then was the state hospital.  From tuberculosis and epilepsy to stress and female issues.  Was Flora admitted for an actual illness or was she just in dire need of rest and relaxation?

The Hudson River State Hospital was a Kirkbride building.

more about Kirkbride buildings:



  1. It's really sad that so many people were institutionalized for needless reasons. It had to be a living hell for the sane and disabled to be living among the insane.

    1. I'm sure... this building stands vacant and for sale, I had told my mother about this because she lived in Wappingers Falls and used to drive past this buuilding on errands into Poughkeepsie. A building like this is probably just an interesting building tolook at as you're driving by but becomes more when you find out that you had an ancestor who was a resident there.