Saturday, January 24, 2009

Livingston County Lunacy Records 1875 - 1879

When considered mentally unstable in Kentucky, the person was usually brought before the county court and a jury of local residents determined the condition of the person’s mind. No special medical knowledge was necessary to serve on this jury, but an attorney was appointed to protect the rights of the person suspected of being mentally ill. The jury met to review the circumstances of the case and a determination was made whether the person was mentally unstable. Accounts of these lunacy hearings are usually recorded in the county court order books. However, several months ago, I attempted to find a specific lunacy hearing in Crittenden County said to have been held in county court in the 1870s and found none recorded in the county court records. To date, no Crittenden County lunacy records prior to 1906 have been found.

The following Livingston County lunacy records have been abstracted from County Court Order Book O (1875 - 1880), Livingston County Clerk’s Office, Smithland, Kentucky. In each case, the person was ordered to Western Lunatic Asylum, Hopkinsville, Kentucky.

[entry removed]

Samuel L. Sterling showed marked peculiarities when he was 8 or 9 years old but that about 4 years ago he had a sun stroke and became unmistakably insane, since which time he has partially lucid intervals of from 3 to 6 weeks duration. The cause of his lunacy is unknown. He was born in Livingston County, has no estate. His mother is living, but his father is dead. He is capable of laboring in part but that is when he is under the supervision of a capable person. He has no estate. 20 January 1876. [pages 98, 590]

James F. Powell has not been destitute of mind from infancy, he first lost his mind about the first of March 1877, the probable cause of his first derangement was excessive use of strong medicine, the cause of his present insanity is unknown. He is about 37 or 38 years old, was born in Shelby County, Kentucky, has been married but is now divorced. He lives in this county but has no estate. His mother is alive and lives in this county and has no estate. His father is dead. [page 232]

Mary Baynes lost her mind on or about the first of March 1878; it is hereditary in her family and has been aggravated in her case by her anxiety upon religious subjects. She is about 38 years old , was born and has lived all her life in this county. She is a married woman, the wife of Rufus Baynes and is the mother of 4 living minor children. Her husband owns about 125 acres worth about $600 but owes about $150 purchase money. He also owns about $300 worth of personal property. Her parents are dead and she is incapable of laboring in whole or in part for her support. 29 August 1878. [page 387]

Mary E. Council lost her mind on or about the 15th of August 1878 and the jury is unable to tell the cause of her lunacy. She is about 26 years old, was born and partly raised in Livingston County. She lived in Tennessee a number of years and removed to this county again about 11 years ago. She is a married woman, but wife of W.L. Council. Her husband has no estate and is unable to pay her expenses at the asylum. Her mother is dead and her father lives in Pope County, Illinois and is a poor man. 26 September 1878 . [page 403]

William Henry Hosick lost his mind at about 4 years of age, he is now about age 17, and it began with epileptic fits. He was born and now lives in Livingston County. He has no estate whatever. His mother is dead and his father lives in Livingston County. 31 March 1879. [page 470]

Charlie Hosick lost his mind about 2 years since, now being about 11 years old. He was born and now lives in Livingston County. His mother is dead and his father, who lives in Livingston County, has no estate, nor does Charlie. 31 March 1879. [page 471]

Edward Champion lost his mind 7 or 8 years ago, now being 17 or 18 years of age, and it was caused by fits. He was born in Livingston County and has no estate. His father is dead or gone to parts unknown and his mother lives in Livingston County but has no estate. 31 March 1879. [page 473]

Frances Dowden (of color) declared a lunatic 10 July 1879. “We the Jury find that the defendant Frances Dowden is a Lunatic, but she being an utter stranger here and unable to give the information herself, we cannot say concerning her birthplace, parentage, residence or means of support, but we do not think from her appearance that she is capable of laboring in any part for her support and we Judge by her looks that she is perhaps 25 years old and the preponderance of her evidence is that she came from Todd County Kentucky.” [page 512]

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