Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 6: Beatrice’s Story

Azilda Davignon Bonneau was my great-great-grandmother. In this studio portrait taken circa 1911, she is accompanied by two of her grandchildren. On the left is my grandmother Beatrice; on the right is her younger sister, Dinorah.
Azilda Bonneau, ca. 1911. On the left is my grandmother Beatrice; on the right is her younger sister, Dinorah.

[This is Part 6 of a series on Norwich State Hospital and its effect on my family. To start at the beginning, go to Part 1.]

Until I pieced together the family history through genealogy and patient records from Norwich State Hospital, I never knew how unsettled my grandmother Beatrice’s childhood had been. She spent her early years in poverty, with a mentally ill mother. She was seven years old when Graziella, was committed to Norwich State Hospital. Her father, Philippe, vanished after her mother died at the hospital in December of 1910. Beatrice was then raised by her grandparents, Azilda and Pierre Bonneau. But the losses kept coming.

Continue reading Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 6: Beatrice’s Story

Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 5: Graziella’s Demise

Postcard detail, Norwich State Hospital, ca. 1909.
Postcard detail, Norwich State Hospital, ca. 1909.

[This is Part 5 of a series on Norwich State Hospital and its effect on my family. To start at the beginning, go to Part 1.]

After the incident in which she threw her dentures down the toilet, Graziella’s condition steadily declined. The notations in her record appeared less frequently after that, sometimes months apart. It seemed that the hospital staff had given up on her. In March of 1910, she was transferred to a ward for disturbed patients, in a building called North D which was later renamed Dix.

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

Continue reading Norwich State Hospital and My Family, Part 5: Graziella’s Demise