Most of the patient information on the blog is from the National Archives II, in College Station, MD. The Department of the Interior (DOI) contracted with Morningside Hospital for the care of Alaskans judged to be “insane”. Morningside submitted monthly reports to the DOI that were essentially invoices, which also included patient admission and discharge information, death and burial details, and diagnoses. Marylou Elton, our volunteer in Washington, DC, continues to dig into the records. We now have patient information for the years 1907 to 1915 and 1924 to 1951.
One name that appears over and over again is August Hofsted (Hofstad). He was born in 1884 in Vesteraalen, Norway to Peder Mortensen Hofstad and Hanna Pauline Albrigtsdtr. August emigrated from Bergen on November 1, 1901 when he was just 17 years old. It’s not clear how he got to Alaska, although it appears that he may have joined family members in Wrangell.
Less than 3 years after immigrating, August was at Morningside Hospital. He was committed from Juneau and admitted on August 10, 1907. He died there on March 3, 1949. I’m sure he was at Morningside longer than any other patient. The DOI records provide the following information:
His diagnosis in 1907 was “general epileptic, more or less demented: occasional outbreaks of frenzy. General health fair.” By 1924 he was described as, “Mentally enfeebled. Confused more or less. Stuporous condition. Vague.”
His condition continued to worsen. In 1933, his diagnosis was, “Dementia precox, catatonic form. Mute and inaccessible for many years. Tidy but idle. Attends to only elemental wants.” The records also indicate that there was no contact with family members.
Please contact me if you can provide more information about August’s life.