Was your ancestor institutionalized for a short time or for the last few years of their life? If so, they might have died a distance from where they actually lived. Records of the actual institution may be closed, but there might be local court records of the institutionalization. People who were sent to institutions weren’t always “crazy,” but might have simply needed more care than the family could give.

And they might have been buried on the grounds of the institution–leaving no tombstone behind either.



6 Responses

  1. I have found persons in institutions in the Federal census records. Also, when a patient died in the institution a death certificate was created. It often stated the length of time at the institution and town or county of residence before being admitted. Many deaths were caused by ailments that could have been easily prevented today. We have to remember that there were few nursing homes for the elderly in the early 20th century and many families just couldn't care for them.

  2. Due to recent medical privacy laws it is nearly impossible to get records from state hospitals. Even the probate court records of committal are impossible in some states. ( I”m looking at you, Texas.) We were told we had to be the legal guardians before the person died or we couldnt get the now-sealed probate record. And the state hospital advised we had to get an in state lawyer and pay a very large fee to possibly, if we won, get a temporary letter of administration. So we do have a Texas death cert. which says how long the person was in the Texas state hospital at Austin, but no idea why that person ended up there. Just as you wrote, sometimes it was just because the family couldnt take care of them, or for a medical reason that would have been easy to take care of today in another way. I guess we'll never know. I would like to mention, volunteers have been indexing burials at the Texas state hospital and I think this is really kind of them.

  3. One of my ancestors was in at least one instution in Connecticut during the middle of his life in the 1870s and I suspect he was there at the end of his life. I found an newspaper account of him which confirmed this. Some records exists for these institutions here in CT. You can check with your state archives or state historical society as well.

    Regards, Jim
    Genealogy Blog at Hidden Genealogy Nuggets

  4. what other sites could someones death information be found if sites that have been searched turn up no information. it's like this person fell off the face of the earth. simon resnick 1908 – 1913. only info found was on a 1910 census where he was listed as 2yrs old.

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