Friday, March 29, 2013

State Hospitals and Jennie L. Hearn

I recently was writing an article for the Delmar Historical and Arts Society Newsletter about the death of Ella Hearn (shot by Lillie Duer) in Pocomoke in 1878.  In the process of tracking down the family tree for Ella Hearn (actually her name was Sarah Ellen Hearn) I came across her sister Jennie L. Hearn.   Now both girls had a father and mother; James Thomas Hearn and Leah Ann Hearn, that were from the Delmar, Delaware area.  James Hearn was a brother to Samuel Batson Hearn, the Delmar Confederate.  In the 1870's the family moved to Pocomoke where James Hearn would follow his trade as a machinist.  The family consisted of Thomas, Leah Ann, Sarah Ellen, Louisana, Jennie, James, and Ida May.  As I said Ella would be shot by Lillie Duer in 1878.  The family would move sometime after 1880 to North Carolina where James Thomas Hearn would die in 1906, shortly after that their daughter Jennie L. Hearn would be committed to a State Hospital in North Carolina. At present it is not known if her problem was physical or mental. She would stay in North Carolina State Hospitals for the next forty years until she died in 1952.  Her body would be returned to Pocomoke to be buried by her Father, Mother and sister.

Now as someone who works on family trees I have a special spot in my heart for those in institutions.  They are usually forgotten and even finding their name and birthdate is difficult so frequently they are left out of family trees, sometimes on purpose. Frequently they end up being buried on the grounds of the institution they die in. The whole bureaucratic affair of confidential information comes into play every time you try to find information out about them.

While searching around on for information on Jennie, I hit a family tree that was done by Dr. Suzannah McCuen (Chief psychiatrist of adult admission service at Broughton hospital).  She has taken all or at least a high percentage of people who had been committed to Eastern North Carolina State hospitals  and created a family tree for each one.  It was by way of her family tree on Jennie that I found she had been put in a state hospital and what year she died.  She has also put this information into Find A Grave where if you were to look at people buried in Broughton Hospital Cemetery you would information on them. Great Work, a great help to all of us who do family trees and a great service to those who were committed to a State Hospital as they will not be just a name but a person with a family.


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