Sunday, January 07, 2007

Louis Ferman: RIP

After procrastinating for almost a year and a half I contacted my mother's first cousin Seymour Lemonick in Philadelphia. He was able to provide a few of the details of what happened to Louis Ferman. I must have had a premonition that it wasn't going to be pleasant. Seymour told me that Louis died at the infamous Byberry Mental Hospital, a 1920 era Creedmore."The Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry (est.1907, closed 1990), also known as Byberry Mental Hospital, opened in 1907 in Northeast Philadelphia. It originally followed the theory of physician Benjamin Rush that mental illness was a disease and could be cured with proper treatment, but the mentally diseased should be kept away from normal people until they were actually cured. It was home to people ranging from the mentally challenged to the criminally insane. The primary buildings were constructed between 1910 and the mid-1920's, and the newer buildings were constructed between 1940 and 1953. It was composed of over fifty buildings which included male and female dormitories, an infirmary, kitchens, laundry, administration, a chapel and a morgue. The hospital's population grew rapidly, quickly exceeding its capacity, and conditions were extremely poor. Several investigations into the conditions at the hospital revealed that sewage lined the hallways and patients slept in the halls, and administration mistreated and exploited patients. As a result, in 1936, the hospital was turned over to the state. However, the state possession changed nothing, and further investigations publicized similar findings." My mother remembers visiting him there as a little girl. It must have been a traumatizing experience. Seymour told me that Louis was known as Laib. This could be Louis (Laib) on a ship manifesto. I found at the Ellis Island site. It sort of coincides with his age and the date of his emigration

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