Monday, January 6, 2014

Brown family secrets

I came across a "family secret" yesterday in two death records.  I called my Mom and in the middle of the conversation I told her that I found information on two of her aunts without revealing what I found and she verified my discovery by relating a rumor.  She also told me that her sister knew the answers.  I then moved our conversation to something else.  My mother, Evelyn Brown Williams, is the youngest child of Noah and Lucy Brown.   Her sister/my aunt, Verlie Brown Walton, is the oldest child.  Aunt Verlie has NEVER been forthcoming with what she knows about family history.  When I've asked her for information in the past, she has basically told me that there was no need for me to know the answers to my questions.

This is my find.  My great aunt, Luella Brown Berry died on August 17, 1928 in the Massillon State Hospital of pulmonary tuberculosis.  Her younger sister, Fannie Brown McCall also died in the Massillon State Hospital of pulmonary tuberculosis; but two years prior on June 23, 1926.   Was Massillon State Hospital a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients?  Was there a tuberculosis epidemic in Massillon Oho during the 1920s?

With my next find I had more questions.  The full name of the hospital at the time was Massillon State Hospital for the Insane.  It is considered an historic asylum because when it was built in the 1890s, it was the first state hospital in the United States and Canada. The first building to be completed was McKinley Hall, named after the then governor, William McKinley.   Did both my great aunts have mental problems?  If so, what?  Were they long-term patients?  How were they treated?

McKinley Hall
Massillon State Hospital


  1. Great find. I hope you'll get answers to the rest of your questions!


  2. Replies
    1. One more bit of information, there was another hospital that did house just those having contagious diseases for that time period. It is located in Louisville Ohio, but closed down about 12 years ago because of asbestos. It was called Molly Stark Hospital. The building still stands and all the other buildings that were part of it stand still. They are talking about making it into a state park of some kind, but will cost millions to get rid of the asbestos.

  3. I work in one of the buildings at the old state hospital. The old one was torn down in 2001 and another built in its place. There were several different buildings to the hospital. Some housed the mentally ill and some housed those having contagious diseases. If your family members died from TB the chances are they were housed in one of the medical facilities. The hospital was like a city all by its self. It was very beautiful at one time. There is a beautiful empty mansion still there that has conflicting stories to it. Some say President McKinley had it built for his wife to live in while she was treated for her fits (it was epilepsy, but epilepsy was not yet known about). They say that the tunnels that run beneath the entire property is how they took Mrs. McKinley back and forth between the buildings for treatment without being seen. Others say that the mansion belonged to the doctor that ran the hospital. McKinley Hall still stands close to where the mansion is, but at this time it too is empty. I hope this provided you with a little more information. If you need more just let me know. I am glad to help.