Two Lane County residents committed to the new State Hospital 1884

state hospital

“Insane. Two persons have been declared insane by the examining board of this county, and taken to the asylum this week.

Tuesday afternoon Silas H Walker was arrested and examined.  The examining physicians, Drs. Sharples and Jones, pronounced him insane and special Deputy Sheriff Brown took him to Salem Wednesday morning.  Walker came here a short time before the election, apparently of good mind, but the excitement of the election was too much for him and his mind gave away.  We understand that in his native state, Michigan, he was in the asylum for a year.

Thursday morning M. Champion, who has been residing a few miles east of Cottage Grove, was examined before Judge Washburne, under the medical supervision of Drs. Sharples and Jones, who pronounced him insane.  He was taken to Salem by Deputy Sheriff Cochran the same morning.”  Eugene City Guard Dec 6, 1884, pg. 5, col. 3.

The newly constructed asylum in Salem operated for many decades caring for thousands who suffered from mental illnesses, the aging building was closed in 1995.  The facility was made famous in the 1975 movie “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest”.  Tragedy struck years earlier when a dinner including scrambled eggs sickened 467 patients and killed 47.  It was discovered that when preparing the eggs cockroach poison was used instead of flour.

Unclaimed bodies of patients who died while at the hospital were cremated.  The cremains


Statesman Journal’s photo of copper canisters holding the cremains of patients from Oregon State Hospital.

of several thousand were placed in copper canisters and have been stored for decades – unfortunately not with much care.  The situation even caught the eye of the New York Times.  Family members and others with a connection to the deceased can request the cremains.  The State of Oregon can be contacted for a form to apply for transfer.


About gtoftdahl

Researching in Oregon Newspapers
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