Category Archives: 1930-1949

Lubova Pontelaief

[image title=”Luba” size=”full” id=”644″ align=”right” linkto=”viewer” ]Aleksandr Hazanov, who lives in Finland, contacted us wondering if we had information about his mother’s cousin, Lubova Pontelaief. She was the daughter of Aleksandr Pontelaief, a Russian Orthodox priest who brought his family from Russia to Unalaska in the early 1900s. The photo  to the right is believed to be the Pontelaief family in Unalaska when Lubova was a child. The Pontelaiefs later moved to Sitka where he served as the Bishop of Alaska from 1934 to 1944.

Lubova Pontelaief was born in 1907 and was admitted to Morningside Hospital from Sitka on June 24, 1934. A hospital quarterly report from 1935 included this information about her:

1550 (Patient Number) Lubova Pontelaiev: admitted June 24, 1934  White.  Russian.  Alaska born.  Female, Single.  Age 27.  No occupation. Dementia precox, hebephrinic form.  History indicates mental disorder existed for about 10 years.  Pc. (Physical Condition) fair.

[image title=”luba grave” size=”full” id=”633″ align=”left” linkto=”viewer” ]Her name appears in a list of patients from 1955, but from there all we know is that she acquired a Social Security Number in Alaska in 1965 and died in October, 1977. At the time of her death, she was living in area code 97217, the Bridgeton neighborhood in Portland. She’s buried in the Portland’s Rose City Cemetery.

Aleksandr wants to know what happened to her after Morningside and who buried her. Please contact the blog if you have any information about Lubova or ideas for information sources we should pursue.

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OSH Copper Canisters

In an earlier post, I wrote about the copper canisters that hold the cremains of patients who died at the Oregon State Hospital.  The names of the patients, and other information such as date of death, are now online. The webpage, Honoring the Past – List of Unclaimed Cremains[image title=”copper” size=”full” id=”617″ align=”left” linkto=”viewer” ], explains that: “The Oregon State Hospital is the custodian of the cremated remains of approximately 3,500 people who died while living at Oregon State Hospital, Oregon State Tuberculosis Hospital, Mid-Columbia Hospital, Dammasch State Hospital, Oregon State Penitentiary, and Fairview Training Center between 1914 and the 1970s. These cremains were never claimed.”

The site includes information on how to claim cremains if you can prove you are a relative. The 6 Alaskans who died there between 1900 and 1903 were not on the list. Thanks to Eric Cordingly of the Friends of Multnomah Park Cemetery for sharing this link.

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Oregonian Historical Archive

[image title=”logo_oregonlive” size=”full” id=”428″ align=”left” linkto=”viewer” ]The Oregonian Historical Archive is online! This is wonderful news. We found a limited number of articles on Morningside at the Oregon Historical Society, most of which had to do with the 1950s. The new online archive lists 345 articles on Morningside Hospital, many providing insights into the day-to-day activities there. You can get a one-day pass, which includes up to 50 downloaded articles, for $9.99. Monthly subscriptions are $19.50/month with which you can view up to 200 articles a month. Here’s where you can find the archive.

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Virtual Cemetery

[image title=”grave marker 2″ size=”full” id=”538″ align=”left” linkto=”viewer” ]The Friends of Multnomah Park Cemetery have set up a Virtual Cemetery listing the patients of Morningside Hospital (8 so far).  The links from the name or the burial marker take you to additional information about the person.

The director of Morningside sent a letter to the Secretary of the Interior each time a patient died. On March 1, 1937, Wayne Coe sent the following letter to Secretary of the Interior about Joe Falardeau, whose grave is included in the Virtual Cemetary:


Permit us to inform you herewith that our patient, Joe Falardeau No. 1269 who was admitted into our hospital, June 14, 1929 from Cordova died February 26th, 1937. The cause of death was Cerebral Thrombosis. The body was turned over to Holman & Lutz of this city for burial in Multnomah Cemetery.

Respectfully yours,

Wayne W. Coe

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More Patient Names

Former Juneau resident Marylou Elton deserves the volunteer of the year award. For the past six months, she’s spent her Wednesdays locating and scanning patient information at the National Archives in College Park, Maryland.  She’s focusing on the quarterly reports/invoices that Morningside sent the Department of the Interior. These documents include the names of patients who were at the hospital and information on patients who died during the quarter. Here are examples from March 1924 and March 1945. We now have a complete (or nearly complete) list of all those sent to Morningside Hospital from 1904 to 1945. Unfortunately, the quarterly reports from 1946 to the closure of the hospital in the 1960s are nowhere to be found.

The patient database is still our top priority. We expect the receive funding (through a partnership of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and Access Alaska) before the end of the summer

Also posted in 1900-1929, Patient List, Photos | Leave a comment

Patient Death Certificates

by Sally Mead

Over the past two weeks in Portland we’ve unearthed quite a bit more backdrop on the search for the burial locations of Morningisde patients. Working closely with Robin Renfroe and her sister Peggy, from Salem, we visited the State of Oregon Archives to search for death certificates for over 150 people. Robin had done research on the Wickersham Paper, US Census reports and Morningside Admittance lists to unearth as many Alaska Native people (or known family names) as possible.

Outside Archives

OR Archives, Salem

We have now searched all 121 names on the Wickersham list (pre 1916) as well as around 50 more Alaska Native people reported from 1920 to 1957. It is not complete but an important start.  Not all of them had a death certificate, but most did. The certificates are telling, from full names, to cause of death, burial location and family members if known. Those lines were almost always empty…. It was very sad to see how many were listed with epilepsy as cause of death.



Paggy and Sally

Peggy and Sally

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Nome Court Records

We’ve dragged two new volunteers into our pursuit of the history of Morningside Hospital. Niesje Steinkruger and Meg Green, retired Superior Court Judges from the Alaska Fourth Judicial District, are taking the lead in researching the Federal and State court commitment records.

Meg recently returned from a trip to Nome, where she spent a few hours at the Nome Courthouse:

“I was in Nome doing some work the first three days of this week and had a couple of hours at the end.  I found the federal Probate Docket book from the Cape Nome Precinct at the Nome courthouse.  I had earlier been told that Nome did not have them.  There are 5 volumes running from 1918 to statehood.  There may be an earlier volume, but I could not find it (what I saw starts with volume “2.”)


Central Washington University, James E. Brooks Library, Digital Archives

Read More »

Also posted in 1900-1929 | Leave a comment

More Patient Burial Clues

A while ago, Robin Renfroe sent us James Ebana’s story, which was posted in May on this blog.  James had epilepsy and was sent to Morningside Hospital when he was 17 years old. He died there on March 21, 1942 when he was 27. She thought he was buried at the Multnomah Park Pioneer Cemetery, but had no way to confirm it or locate James’s grave.

Last weekend, she emailed with good news:

“I will be heading to Portland on Nov 20.  I hope I have found James Ebana’s grave.  I have talked to the cemetery staff and found their website that has a map and searchable database.  So I have found the location of the grave.  I have asked their staff to pull any records related to this and to call me.  Will see what happens.

Here is the website for 14 Oregon Pioneer Cemeteries and where I found the location of James Ebana (Ebeno) at Multnomah Pioneer Cemetery.  You may be able to search here for names.  May also need to use alternative spellings.”

Good luck, Robin! And thanks for the valuable research tool.

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1912 to 1942 Admissions

1935-36 Photos_0001

Record Group 126, Records of the Office of the Territories, National Archives II, College Park, MD

Occasionally there are glimpses of who was at Morningside. Included in the Department of the Interior files from the National Archives was a tabulation of admissions between 1912 and 1942. There was a total of 1,601 admissions over the 30 years, an average of 53 admissions per year. The percentage of admissions who were female increased from 10.1% during the first 5 years (1912-1917) to 26.4% for the years 1938 to 1942. The report noted:

“Out of the 81 females now in the hospital, there are 13 who have been in the hospital more than 15 years. There are 20 of them who are epileptics or mentally deficient and there are 20 who are over the age of sixty at the time. The epileptics, mentally deficient and older women, that is 40 out of the 81 require more or less special attention and many are infirmary cases.”

Also posted in 1900-1929, Treatment/Outcomes | Leave a comment

Patient Photos: 1935 Investigation

Over the years, the Department of the Interior conducted a number of investigations of Morningside Hospital. The photographs taken as part of these investigations are one of the few sources of images of patients that we’ve found.  Here are a few from the 1935 investigation.

One of the Men's Wards

One of the Men's Wards

Women Patients Doing Needlepoint

Women Patients Doing Needlepoint

One of the Women's Wards

One of the Women's Wards

Also posted in Investigations & Inspections, Patient Photos, Quality of Care | Leave a comment