Friday, July 27, 2012


Twenty years separate their deaths, but they rest side by side forever. Caroline C. C. Caldwell (d. 1882) is buried next to her infant daughter, Isabella Caldwell (yesterday’s post) in Spring Grove Cemetery.

DIED JUNE 29, 1882

The cemetery burial records show that Caroline was a resident of Cincinnati’s Longview Asylum when she died. The disease that caused her death? Lunacy.

The Federal Census records for Cincinnati in 1870 and 1880 show Anthony and Caroline Caldwell living in the same household. In 1880—two years before Caroline’s death—there is an entry next to Anthony’s name in column 15. You know that column:
Is the person [on the day of the Enumerator’s visit] sick or temporarily disabled, so as to be unable to attend to ordinary business or duties? If so, what is the sickness or disability?
What do you think? I think the entry is meant to read “Nervous Disease of Head,” and it was intended for the line below: Caroline.

Without commenting on Caroline Caldwell’s specific condition, which is unknown to me, I share these sentences from the abstract of “Lunacy in the 19th Century: Women’s Admission to Asylums in United States of America,” by Katherine Pouba and Ashely Tianen (2006):

Between the years of 1850-1900, women were placed in mental institutions for behaving in ways that male society did not agree with. Women during this time period had minimal rights, even concerning their own mental health. Research concluded that many women were admitted for reasons that could be questionable. Since the 19th century, many of the symptoms women experience according to admittance records would not make a woman eligible for admittance to a mental asylum today. Women with symptoms were later diagnosed insane by reasons such as religious excitement, epilepsy, and suppressed menustruation.

May you rest in peace, Caroline.

Longview Asylum

Spring Grove Cemetery, Hamilton County, Ohio


  1. Amy,

    Thanks for your insights in this very interesting post. I see people referred to as "lunatic" in census frequently but really never questioned the validity of the use of that term.

    Again, thanks.

  2. Really interesting! I had never seen lunacy as a cause of death on a tombstone .... although I know about the history of placing women into asylums.

  3. MANY THANKS for bringing light to this horrible and sad subject that is STILL not being addressed enough in this huge genealogy field. This issue was what got me started on my obsessive search for answers and my family history. MY immigrant G grandmother DIED alone in a MENTAL INSTITUTION WHERE SHE WAS COMMITTED for 13 years. Still no one knows anything any are shamed to this day! MOST likely a miscarriage, depression or female problems. HER OBITUTARY, death certificate & cemetary stone is still a mystery and I have gotten verry little if any info on this beautiful woman. I AM VERY ANGRY AND SAD at the same time over this sensitive issue...thanks again...lisa

  4. I am so glad that I came across your awesome blog!

    I am doing a pp may I use a few gravestones - associated info for this?

    Thanks for this consideration.


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