Category Archives: Patient Burials

It’s HERE! The Morningside Hospital Patient Database

Carlson, Gustave-1When the Lost Alaskans blog went online five years ago, we began to hear from people who were searching for friends and relatives who were committed to Morningside Hospital, some as long as one hundred years ago. We hope the Morningside Hospital Patient Database will make their search easier and answer their questions.

There are three types of records available. The Quarterly Reports have diagnoses and other information on patients, the Death Certificates are those who died while at Morningside, and the court records document the commitment process. There are gaps in all of the record sets so the search continues.

The database will be formally announced in January. In the meantime, give it a try and send comments and recommendations. Click on Search Patient Records and then enter at least three consecutive letters of the patient’s last name and, optionally, any part of the patient’s first name. The database searches both the name as entered as well as alternate spellings found in the records.

We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority for their long-term support, especially over the past six months. The Trust made it possible for our volunteer researchers to get to record archives in Maryland, Alaska and Oregon. The entry of 45,000 records would not have been possible without Trust support.

And thanks to the volunteers who collected the information in the database. Volunteers by type of record are Meg Greene and Niesje Steinkruger (Court Records), Eric Cordingley, David Anderson and Sally Mead (Death Certificates) and Marylou Elton, Karen Perdue, Ellen Ganley and Robin Renfro (Quarterly Reports), and Deborah Smith (Alaska State Archives).

Many thanks to Doug Toelle, our project manager at Access Alaska And last, but not least, thanks to database programmer Don Kiely, web designer Jana Peirce, and data entry queen Nancy Lowe, all of whom are hugely talented and extremely patient.

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More Death Certificates Online


Nearly 300 more death certificates are now available in the Morningside Hospital Research Archive. Once again, we have Eric Cordingley and David Anderson of Portland to thank for these invaluable records. I’m sure they’re on a first name basis with everyone who works at the State of Oregon Archives. Thanks to Eric and David’s dedication and persistence, there are now approximately 500 death certificates posted in the Research Archive.


Also posted in 1900-1929, 1930-1949, 1950-1960s | Leave a comment

In Vt., Long-dead Mental Patients Inspire Crusade

In this Thursday, March 28, 2013 photo, Rep. Anne Donahue looks at a memorial stone at the site of a Vermont State Hospital cemetery in Waterbury, Vt. Vermont mental health advocates are trying to decide what to do with the abandoned cemetery near the former State Hospital, which was forced to move by flooding from Tropical Storm Irene. (AP Photo/Toby Talbot)

by Wilson Ring

WATERBURY, Vt. (AP April 1, 2013) — An all-but-forgotten cemetery and its dozens of long-dead patients of the forerunner of the Vermont State Hospital are reaching from beyond their hillside graves to help modernize state law regulating what happens when someone dies and no one claims the remains.

The issue emerged from the shadows of history because of Tropical Storm Irene, which more than a year ago inundated the hospital complex, destroyed many old patient records and rendered the complex unusable. As plans were made for a new hospital, some feared the cemetery was in danger of being forgotten again.

“Somehow it felt incredibly important to give those people back the dignity of their identity,” said state Rep. Anne Donahue, a Republican from Northfield and longtime advocate for the mentally ill. “I wanted to find out who was here.” Read More »

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More Cemetery News

Eric Cordingley and David Anderson continuing their search for death certificates and burial sites. Here is Eric’s most recent report.

[image title=”Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland” size=”full” id=”1034″ align=”right” alt=”Lone Fir Cemetery, Portland” ]I now have a complete copy of all of the original ledgers of Multnomah Park Cemetery.  The reason this is important is because I can now trace all of the interments of Morningside patients who died between 1912 and 1942 to a time and place.

A recent fact emerged that several Morningside patients who died between 1904 and 1912 may have been interred in St. Mary’s Cemetery, which was moved in 1937 to make way for Central Catholic High School.  The records of the whereabout of those remains is unknown, possibly to a mass grave at Lone Fir, or they still may in their original location, which is now under a tennis court and football field.

Dave and I are continuing on our monthly trek to Salem to get death certificates.  We have 1916, 1917, 1918 and 1919, the next set will be 1920 because I want to see when the burial contract went from Finley to Holman and just when the burials moved from Multnomah Park to Riverview…and then back again in 1927 to 1942.
Read More »

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Patient Burial Update

Last month, Eric Cordingley sent an update on his search for Morningside Hospital patient burial sites. He’s using records from the National Archive 2 and the Oregon State Archives (death certificates) to identify the cemeteries. Unfortunately, the graves are difficult to locate because the cemeteries no longer have records of the burials. In October, Eric had located the cemeteries where 145 Morningside patients were buried. He now has information on the burials of 200 patients! Check out the Morningside Hospital Virtual Cemetery. And thanks, Eric, for your continued commitment and hard work.


[image title=”DSC00032″ size=”full” id=”898″ align=”right” ]I met with Mary, the archivist for Greenwood Hill Cemetery and have the following to report:

Burials of Morningside patients at Greenwood Hills Cemetery (GHC)  began in February of 1942 after GH opened a new section.  Morningside burials were mainly placed in Sections 7 and 8 which is a narrow strip of land between the G.A.R. Cemetery and the ravine.    It is currently unknown how many burials took place in those sections of GHC.  Sections 7 and 8 today are overgrown and/or wooded.  Section 8 may not contain many burials due to the fact that the ground is saturated by a nearby spring.  A recent attempt by a landscape company to clean up Section 8 ended when the equipment they were using became mired in the mud, even in late summer.  There are Morningside burials in other sections of GHC which, though recorded, have yet to be documented.

As far as can be determined, the last Morningside patient to be interred at Multnomah Park was Reinhard  Effinger, who died 5 Feb 1942.  His marker has been located and documented.  No Morningide patient who died after him can be located and documented at Multnomah Cemetery. Read More »

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The Search for Patient Graves Continues

Eric Cordingley of the Friends of Multnomah Park Cemetery continues to look for Morningside Hospital patient burial sites. His search has expanded to include at least 5 cemeteries since his first discovery of patient graves at Multnomah Park.  Last month he sent this report on his continued pursuit of the final resting places of Morningside patients. Thanks for all you hard work, Eric!

September 19, 2011: I ventured over to Riverview and Greenwood Hills today with the hope of finding at least one Morningside headstone.

[image title=”riverview” size=”full” id=”816″ align=”left” ]Riverview:  The area where most of the Morningside burials occurred, between 1924 and 1929, underwent a massive landslide sometime in the 60’s.  It could have happened during the October 1962 Columbus Day storm when many large trees at Riverview went down.  The area on the map, section113 was dramatically altered as part of a large earth movement toward a gulley which undermined two roads and a large retaining wall.  Any remains that were in that area may have been either covered over by the slide or by the large amount of concrete, rock and dirt fill that went into the hillside to stabilize it after the slide.  If remains were exposed during the slide, I am sure the Riverview staff collected them and reinterred them in an area away from another potential landslide.

In Section 11, I attempted to locate the grave of one Herbert Hurdman, a Morningside patient that died in 1929.  I was unable to locate a headstone for him.

[image title=”Greenwood Hills” size=”full” id=”818″ align=”right” ]Greenwood Hills:  Recent hot weather has made the ground dry and thus very difficult to probe.  I was able to locate several flat concrete markers.  I don’t know if the markers I located are for Morningside patients.  It is my belief Morningside patients were interred at Greenwood Hills beginning mostly in 1942/43 until the hospital closed, but I do not as yet have access to the quarterly reports beyond 1931 and I have not been able to build a list of former patients who may be interred at Greenwood Hills.

The Volunteer Coordinator for Friends of Greenwood Hills Cemetery, Mary, is unavailable, due to her work schedule, to assist in this project until sometime in October.  I will report on our meeting once it occurs.  Read More »

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Virtual Cemetery Update

Eric Cordingley and David Anderson, of the Friends of Multnomah Park Cemetery, have identified the burial places of more than 100 Morningside patients. They created a Virtual Cemetery site that includes all of the patients they’ve identified, pictures of gravestones, and other information on the patients.

They are relying on two sources of information in their search.  They’re using the quarterly reports submitted to the Department of the Interior that list the names of patients who died, the cause of death, and the burial location. The Oregon Death Index has also been useful in finding burial locations. The certificate below is from the Virtual Cemetery site. It notes that Rita Lane, from Nome, died of pneumonia at Morningside when she was 14 years old. The burial location, Multnomah Cemetery, is at the bottom of the right side of the death certificate.

[image title=”Death certificate” size=”full” id=”695″ align=”center” ]

Also posted in 1900-1929 | Leave a comment

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.

Also posted in 1930-1949, Patient Photos, Patient Stories | Leave a comment

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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Before Morningside

[image title=”220px-Oregon_State_Hospital_1920″ size=”full” id=”531″ align=”left” linkto=”viewer” ]Prior to the Morningside Hospital years, the Department of the Interior contracted for care of Alaskans at the Oregon State Insane Asylum, now known as Oregon State Hospital (Salem).

Between 1901 and 1903, 69 Alaskans were sent to there, 31 of whom were later transferred to Morningside. Six men died while in Salem, including:

  • William Johnson, d.23 Aug 1901 (age 30, b. England)
  • Thomas A. Wilson, d. 9 Jan 1902 (age ___, b. England)
  • Alexander H Carpenter, d. 30 Mar 1902 ( age ___, b. ___)
  • Robert Sweet, d. 9 Nov 1902 (age 48, b. American)
  • Wm. Ukas, d. 24 Jun 1903 (age ___, b. Alaska)
  • Louis Bronson, d. 27 Jun 1903 (age 68, b. Germany)

On January 11, 1902, the Oregon Statesman published Thomas A. Wilson’s obituary. They reported that he committed suicide by jumping from a third floor window. The article went on to say:

“Wilson was committed to the Insane Asylum from Alaska, and he had recently shown marked signs of improvement. When realizing that he was in an insane asylum, he was very much distressed. He had thus far shown no signs of suicidal tendencies, and was generally considered a model patient.”

One of the interesting aspects of this is that the six men who died at the Oregon State Insane Asylum may be among those whose remains are in the copper canisters I wrote about on September 15. Another lead to follow the next time I’m in Oregon.

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