Category Archives: Patient Photos

Lawrence Ross 1921 – 2012

Brother and uncle, Lawrence Joseph Ross, 91, died Sunday, July 22, 2012, at Denali Center where he had lived for the past 39 years.

Born in Ruby, on March 26, 1921, to Charles F. Ross, of Stockholm, Sweden, and Emma A. (Alexander) Ross, of Anvik, Lawrence recalled being raised by “the doctor” because of early diagnosis of polio. As Emma’s ninth child, he remembered all his siblings and extended family well, having lived along the Yukon River until 1955.

Lawrence began institutional living at Morningside Hospital in Portland, Ore., at age 34. He also lived in facilities in Anchorage and Valdez before moving permanently to Fairbanks in 1973 to be closer to his sister, Edith.

His career as a janitor began in the days when he used to keep the Pioneer Hall in Ruby clean. Quite a storyteller, he would recount housekeeping chores he did at Harborview in Valdez. His jobs at Denali Center included picking up laundry, wiping down tables and handrails, and checking to make sure that office doors were locked after hours. Read More »

Also posted in Patient Stories | Leave a comment

Gustav “Gus” Berglund 1881-1956

Lina Olafsson lives in Stockholm, Sweden,  and recently discovered that her grandfather was sent to Morningside Hospital when he was a young man. She kindly provided the following story and photos.

By Lina Olofsson

My mother died last year, leaving a box with an old diary, some pictures and old letters from my grandfather.

Gus Berglund, seated on the right

Gus Berglund, seated on the right

My grandfather, Gus Berglund, was born in 1881. He lived in the little mining town  – Malmberget  – in the north of Sweden, just about 100 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle. He came from a large family, with three sisters and six brothers. His father and the older brothers worked as iron-ore miners.

At the age of 27, my grandfather Gus immigrated to Canada with one of his younger brothers – Conrad – and four of their friends. They arrived to Quebec on the Empress of Ireland on May 1, 1909. Their brother Erik had emigrated some years before, and was living in Spokane, Washington with his young wife and a son. Their sister Elin emigrated some months after my grandfather, and she settled in Vancouver, Canada with her husband and four children.

1917 Letter to Morningside Hospital

1917 Letter to Morningside Hospital

From 1910 to 1914, the two brothers, Gus and Erik Berglund, worked together in different railway camps in the Spokane-Seattle-Vancouver-area. Sometimes together – sometimes apart.

My grandfather kept a diary during the first years in Canada and United States, where he wrote some short notes about the different jobs. But the last note is dated 1914, and there are no letters after that time saved between the siblings in Canada and their family in Sweden.

But I found a [Download not found] from February 1917, written by a brother in Sweden to Doctor J. W. Luckey at Morningside Hospital, asking about my grandfather Gus. He had heard that Gus had been admitted at Morningside, but the family was worried and could not get in contact with him at the hospital.

Gus Berglund, standing left

Gus Berglund, standing left

The patient records I found from Morningside state that my grandfather Gus Berglund was admitted from Knik on May 8, 1916. His diagnosis was, “Catatonia, Silent, uncommunicative, Morose”. About a year later , on June 7, 1917,  he was discharged to Seattle where his brother Conrad was living with his family.

Gus probably went Alaska, to build the Alaskan railway, which was constructed at that time in the area of Knik. He probably lived in the Wasilla railway camp with his brother Eric when he was taken ill. Or maybe he went to Alaska for the gold? I probably never will find out what happened to my grandfather Gus in Alaska.

After First World War grandfather Gus returned to Sweden. From 1923 to 1932 he was building railways in the north of Sweden.

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

Native Tubercular Children

Three children were admitted to Morningside on September 16, 1930 from Riverton Sanitarium in Seattle. They all had tuberculosis and no mental illness or other disability. They were sent to Morningside by the US Department of Education and arrived with no records of any kind.

The picture below is from 1931. The caption sayes, “Native tubercular children. These children are cared for in their own department at Morningside Hospital.”

[image title=”tubercular children” size=”full” id=”1065″ align=”right” ][Download not found] from 1932 indicate that Bertha Koenig was 9 when she arrived at Morningside after spending 4 years in Seattle hospitals. Her family was from McGrath and the record notes that her father was white and her mother Native Alaskan. Her prognosis was, “poor for recovery. Duration of life uncertain, perhaps a few years.”

John Mosquito was 5 when he was admitted. His record noted, “We have never learned from what part of Alaska this child came, nor the names or where-abouts of his relatives, if any.” He had the same prognosis as Bertha.

In 1933, the National and Alaska American Legion demanded that the children be moved elsewhere. F.S. Fellows, the medical director of the Alaska Medical services, summarized their criticisms and demands in a [Download not found] to John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs. Dr. Fellows recommended that the children remain at Morningside. We have no information on the eventual outcome.

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

Katharine Hodikoff

[image title=”Morningside-Hospital-courtesy-Library-of-Congress” size=”full” id=”949″ align=”right” ]Katharine Hodikoff was admitted to Morningside Hospital from the Aleutian Islands on October 6, 1913. Her diagnosis was, “acute mania, irritable, resentful, improved, inclined to suicide, industrious, fair physical condition.” She apparently improved over time, so much so that she was discharged in August 1916.

A few days before she left Morningside, Dr. Henry Coe, the president of the Sanitarium Company, informed the Department of the Interior of her release. In the letter, he described her as, “strong, vigorous, active, cleanly, and the most capable Eskimo woman I ever saw.” He goes on to say that she will be leaving with a baby named Mary McLoshkin (apparently born at Morningside?) who she adopted. You can read the [Download not found] here.

[image title=”1916 Xmas pictures-1″ size=”full” id=”955″ align=”left” ]Coe notes that Katharine was in a photo with him and a Department of the Interior inspector (above, from the Library of Congress). He also wrote that she made fine baskets. I believe that this is a photo of one of her baskets. The caption under the 1916 photo (from the National Archives II) reads, “Made by an Alaska Native who was returned by Morningside to the island of Attu, 4000 miles distant.”

Dr. Coe ends the letter with, “I am going to write up her story, one of these days. It is stranger than fiction.” I wish he had. I’ve checked many sources but can find nothing on Katharine after her discharge from Morningside. Please leave a comment if you know more about her or her family.

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

Clara Simpson

Tom Ralphs contacted the blog wondering if we had any records indicating that his grandfather, Tom Shea, was at Morningside. When I wrote back that I didn’t find anything, he mentioned that his grandmother, Clara Simpson, was sent there in the 1940’s, and he had information on her life that he was willing to share. Here’s Clara’s story…

[image title=”claratom1″ size=”full” id=”672″ align=”right” alt=”Clara Halferty Shea and Thomas Robert Shea, about 1907″ linkto=”” ]Clara Halferty was born in March 1887 in Brighton, Iowa. She married Tom Shea in 1907 and they adopted a daughter, Myrtle. In 1915, the family moved to Alaska where Tom took a job working on the construction of the Alaska Railroad. Clara immediately fell in love with Alaska.

(Photo Right: Clara and Tom Shea, circa 1907)

Tom and Clara divorced in 1916 and, over the next 20 years, she worked as a prospector and mail carrier, and she married three more times (including once more to Tom Shea). In May 1929, she visited family in Iowa and regaled family and friends with stories about her life in Alaska. A story about her in The Newton Daily News illustrates her adventurous spirit and self-reliance:

[image title=”bear2″ size=”full” id=”676″ align=”left” alt=””Clara Shea with Humpback Grizzley, Alaska”” linkto=”” ]“My first experience driving a dog team turned out badly. I hitched 7 dogs to a sled. A quarter of a mile later, the dogs, sled and myself rolled 150 feet off the side hill. I attempted to straighten the tangled harness when the dogs broke loose and headed to camp.”

(Photo Left: Clara with Humpback Grizzly, Alaska)

Read More »

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

Christmas at Morningside Hospital

Among the few pictures of Morningside are a two taken at Christmas celebrations in the 1920s. The US Department of the Interior records included correspondence from Wayne Coe about the 1922 Morningside Hospital Christmas party and an accounting of the party and patient gift expenses.

These two photos, which are from the Oregon Historical Society, were not dated but appear to be from the 1920s.


The caption on the photo above is an account of the Christmas Festivities at Morningside from a Portland newspaper. “Morningside Hospital provided three Christmas trees for the inmates. Natives helped to provide the entertainment which was held in the Assembly room of the new Parole House. Gifts were provided for all the patients in the institution by Dr. Coe, the Chief Officer. After the exercises in the main hall the women retired to their own buildings where trees awaited them, while the men had their remembrances in the assembly room.”

The founder of Morningside Hospital, Dr. Henry Waldo Coe, is standing to the right of the Christmas tree.

Xmas2The photo above appears to be from the early to mid-1920s. Children were first admitted to Morningside at the end of 1922 or early 1923. Read More »

Also posted in 1900-1929, Morningside Hospital, Photos, The Coes | Leave a comment

Patient Photos: Children 1923

Here are more pictures of children at Morningside Hospital in 1923. Children were sent to Morningside because they had mental and physical disabilities, many of which we would call developmental disabilities today. This is the diagnosis for a child from Anchorage:

“Adrnitted November 7,1925. Anchorage. A native child of four years. Speaks no English. Physical examination affords no information aside from partial deafness. Physical condition good,”

The caption on the first photo below is, ” Orphans of the Far North – Alaska defectives happily housed in the mild climate at Morningside.”

Children1 1923

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

Children2 1923

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

Children3 1923

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

Also posted in 1900-1929 | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Children at Morningside Hospital

It was never clear to me when Morningside Hospital started admitting children. The patient lists during the early years seemed to be populated by miners, gamblers and other who came North to seek their fortunes. By the time Alaska assumed responsibility for providing mental health services to its citizens in 1956, a significant percentage of patients at Morningside were children with developmental disabilities. Some admitted soon after birth.

Photos Children 1923

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

The National Archives II provided the following information from the Department of the Interior files:

On November 9, 1922, Scott C. Bone, the Governor of Alaska, sent a telegram to the Secretary of the Interior asking, “Can mentally defective children of Alaska be committed to Morningside under existing contract  stop  Institution is now equipped to handle such cases.”

The next day, Assistant Secretary of the Interior F. M. Goodwin responded, “Replying your telegram November ninth. Unless mentally defective children of Alaska are legally adjudged to be insane they cannot be cared for at Morningside Hospital under the contract with Sanitarium Company.”

The decision to commit children to Morningside in the same way adults were handled apparently came swiftly. Children were taken before a jury of six men and adjudicated “insane”. The photo above is from 1923.

Also posted in 1900-1929 | 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 1930-1949, Investigations & Inspections, Quality of Care | Leave a comment