Suzannah McCuen

Member for
11 years · 6 months · 23 days
Find a Grave ID
47283313

Bio

Besides working on my own family tree I'm working, through public records such as those found on Ancestry.com and Family Search, to identify the men, women and children buried at the state hospitals in Morganton, NC (Broughton Hospital), Goldsboro, NC (Cherry Hospital), Petersburg, VA (Central Hospital) and Warm Springs, MT (Montana State Hospital) and to link them to their loved ones.
I have also listed some of those buried at the Caswell Training Center in Kinston, NC, Letchworth Village in NY, and the state hospitals in Brattleboro, VT, Rusk, TX, Meridian, MS, Terrell, Tx, Middletown, CT, Independence, IA, Lexington, KY and New Toronto, Canada and hope to have assistance in linking them to their loved ones.

To document the research involved I post the death certificates on those memorials and to some I add a non-working link to the research trees on Ancestry.com where those interested can see how I arrived at my conclusions. Please desist in your attempts to dissuade me from so documenting my research and thereby facilitating others' attempts to research their loved ones. You know who you are. No doubt, in time, a working link to Ancestry.com will be part and parcel of this site. And, one can hope, in time you can understand that a death certificate is not offensive, no matter what it reveals. Photographs are preferable, of course. I post news articles when I can find them. But for the overwhelming majority of people buried in asylum cemeteries the death certificate and the draft card are the ONLY documents outside the census to be found. The death certificate, in those instances, tells us where they came from and how long they were hospitalized as well as the cause of death. Some times we are fortunate enough to find a family member's name on the record as well. It is just part of the story of that person's life. I ask that you calm yourself. This, too, shall pass.

I am a psychiatrist and have worked in state hospitals for over 25 years. Suffice it to say that uninformed judgments about what life in the state hospitals was like (and is like) for those in care there do not do justice to the many attendants, nurses and physicians who gave years of their lives providing kind care to the mentally ill and vulnerable in our asylums. Nor is it appropriate to assume that families whose loved ones were tormented by mental illnesses, intractable epilepsy, brain injuries and syphilis (that for so long was untreatable) "abandoned" them in the asylums.

It is also the case that we are often mistaken in assuming that those buried in asylum cemeteries were "forgotten" or "abandoned" by their loved ones. There is no reason to think most were forgotten by their families. There were lots of reasons for people being buried on asylum grounds. Sometimes it was due to the weather presenting challenges in getting someone's remains all the way home by train or wagon or it was the expense of transporting the remains, something a family may not have been able to afford. Often there was no family left at home to accept the remains. Sometimes a family didn't send their loved one to the asylum for care until the last parent at home had become feeble or had died and after years at the asylum there may have been no one left back home to accept the remains or to even answer the telegram or the letter or the call from the hospital about what to do with the remains. Sometimes the person had been in the asylum so long they considered it home and the family decided to have them buried here. The first hospital superintendent at the WNCIA (State Hospital at Morganton) refused to donate any of the bodies to the medical schools for dissection, saying that if family or friends couldn't provide a burial place for them back home they would be buried in the asylum cemetery. So it wasn't often a matter of "abandonment" or of being "forgotten". The asylums have for too long been misrepresented as places of torment and abandonment. There were, of course, always examples of abuse - just as there were in the homes of the mentally ill. But for many the asylums were a place of refuge and of kind and effective care.

I grew up in Greenville county, SC, first in the city of Greenville, then at the foot of Glassy Mountain in the "Dark Corner" where my maternal grandmother and her parents and grandparents were born. My mother, Anne Ballenger King McCuen, a research chemist early in life, worked for decades later in life as a meticulous land historian in upper SC and published several research texts. My father, William Garrison McCuen, MD worked for decades as an internist/general practitioner caring for many of the upstate SC residents in their homes, hospitals, the Veterans' clinic and his office.

Thank you to those of you who assist me in making these memorials useful and respectful. Please, keep your helpful edits coming. And please be patient. Making edits in response to your suggestions does take time as I double check them. I receive inaccurate edits regularly and will NOT post blatantly inaccurate information. Those of us who have been "at this" for some time are all too familiar with those who recklessly send out inaccurate information and demand that it be added to memorials when focussed research will show it to be false.

A lot of conflicts might be avoided among us if each of us will accept and act as if this is about those who've gone before and NOT about us.

If you are fortunate enough in life to be looking for a project to do - please consider documenting the African American cemeteries in your community.

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9 Memorials

Anatomical Board NC

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asylum integrations

9 Memorials