Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 4: Graziella’s Teeth

North B, Norwich State Hospital. Image from the 1931 appraisal of Norwich State Hospital. Courtesy of Preston Historical Society
North B, Norwich State Hospital. Image from the 1931 appraisal of Norwich State Hospital. Courtesy of Preston Historical Society

After her admission to Norwich State Hospital, my great-grandmother, Graziella, was sent to North B. The patient population around the time she was admitted was 434, which may not seem like much now, but the existing buildings were only designed to hold 400. Over the years, although more wards were built, Norwich State Hospital was always said to be overcrowded. They just couldn’t keep up with the growing number of mentally ill patients. Continue reading Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 4: Graziella’s Teeth

Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 3: Madness Unfolding

My great-great-grandparents, Pierre and Azilda Bonneau, were French-Canadians who left Quebec in the late 19th century and settled in Danielson, Connecticut.  Their daughter, Graziella Bonneau, married Philippe Metthe in 1899.

According to the 1900 U. S. census, Philippe and Graziella were mill workers, probably at the Quinebaug Mill. They had their first child in 1901 — my grandmother, Beatrice. For the next several years, Graziella gave birth every 18 months. She stayed home with the children while Philippe continued to work in the mill.  Philippe & Graziella were so poor that by 1906, they were living in a shed behind her parents’ house — just like Mom had told me. Continue reading Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 3: Madness Unfolding

Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 2: What I Found

In 2012, at age 87, my mother was moved into assisted living. The unit was too small to accommodate her genealogy research, which was stored in several boxes full of binders and file folders, pedigree charts and census sheets, certificates and photographs, books and magazine articles. So, all of that came to my house. I stored it all in my basement, intending to hang on to it until someone else in my family expressed an interest in genealogy. But the librarian in me couldn’t resist peeking into the boxes and organizing what was there. I didn’t know at the time that I was on a slippery slope from being a reluctant genealogist to a relentless family historian. Continue reading Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 2: What I Found

Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 1: Backstory

Norwich State Hospital, Administration Building, October 2013
Norwich State Hospital, Administration Building, October 2013

Before I knew anything about my family’s ties to Norwich State Hospital, all I had was the brief stories Mom told me about her family.  To understand why I became obsessed with uncovering the family secrets, you have to understand how frustrated I was for most of my life with the lack of details about the family’s past.  It starts with where my mother came from. Continue reading Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 1: Backstory