History - Oral Histories
Bigelow T. Sanborn - Physician and Superintendent at the Maine Insane Asylum 1866-1910
Perspectives of Bigelow T. Sanborn
Physician and Superintendent at the Maine Insane Asylum
1866 - 1910
Dr. Bigelow Sanborn began working as assistant physician at the Maine Insane Asylum in Augusta, Maine, upon his graduation from Bowdoin College in 1866. He was appointed Superintendent in 1883 and continued in this position until his death in 1910.
Mrs. Margaret Hodgdon of East Boothbay Harbor, Maine, is Dr. Sanborn’s granddaughter. She compiled summaries of the diaries he kept during his 44 years at the institution. In 2003, Mrs. Hodgdon offered to share these summaries with the State of Maine as part of a project to preserve the history and stories of the Augusta Mental Health Institute—as the institution was known during more recent years—before it was officially closed in 2005. Mrs. Hodgdon’s gift of her grandfather’s words brings vividly to life what the Maine Insane Asylum was like from the perspective of the person who was in charge for more than a quarter of the institution’s 164-year history.
Below are excerpts of Dr. Sanborn’s words from Mrs. Hodgdon’s summaries. The State of Maine is most grateful for her contribution.
1866 - June
- Bigelow Sanborn graduated from Bowdoin College.
- Commenced work at Maine Insane Asylum as assistant physician at a salary of $400 yearly.
1867 - October
- 300 patients in the hospital.
1875 - January
- We had a party for the patients in the upper third hall and exhibited the Magic Lantern.
- Attended Legislative Ball with [wife] Emma.
- We have large numbers of visitors from State House. Many representatives attend the Chapel services. Appropriation for new Chapel was passed—$25,000.
- Foster and Dutton took the contract to build the Chapel for $19,500.
- We had Prof. Ray, a sleight of hand performer, to give a lecture. He was liked very much and did many fine things.
- Had a picnic for the patients in the grove at the ravine and they seemed to enjoy themselves.
- This month they commenced laying brick on the new chapel.
- There were 403 patients in the hospital.
- Miss Weston, a patient, set her room on fire and suffocated. We soon put he fire out. It gave us quite a shock.
1876 - January
- A group of us are having a singing school once a week and entertain the patients.
- New Chapel dedicated.
- Had a magic lantern show.
- Had a juggler perform.
- The Minstrels from Togus were here and gave an entertainment. There was a large number from town and the hall was packed.
- Worked on a paper on General Paresis to read at Kennebec Medical Association.
- Several of the hospital personnel have been attending the Centennial at Philadelphia. Wife and I went.
- Weather very dry and we laid pipe for a new reservoir on the hill.
1877 - June
- Wife, [daughter] Maude, and I took train to Portland to attend the Maine Medical Association. Committee put me on for a paper on Epilepsy.
- Had exercises in the Park. Reading of Declaration of Independence by myself.
- A party of us went over the Winthrop Pond and had a picnic. The band from Togus came and gave us an entertainment. Took 25 patients out to Winthrop Pond on a picnic.
1878 - January
- There are frequent visits from the State House of Representatives and large delegations from the Legislature come to the Chapel. A new visiting committee from the Legislature started on January 30.
- We are holding frequent dances for the patients.
- We gave a drama “Among the Breakers.”
- The Togus minstrels came to entertain.
- Had drama “Meg’s Diversion.”
- Gave drama “Above the Clouds.”
- They put in telephone in the institution. Built new barn.
- Had exercises in the Park for patients. An oration, prayer, Declaration of Independence read.
- Went over to Winthrop Pond with patients on a picnic excursion…Took parties of patients out to ride up to the reservoir.
- We took a party of 50 to Hammonds Grove on a picnic excursion. Paid $2 for use of grove.
- Went to Gardiner to attend semi-annual County Medical Association meeting. There was a full and interesting meeting. The discussion was on Diphtheria. Drs. Nutting and Brickett got quite heated.
- The Augusta Brass Band came over and gave a concert and we gave them an oyster supper.
- The trustees are visiting the wards once a month.
- On Christmas had drama, “My Brother’s Keeper.”
1879 - January
- A patient set fire to 2 beds.
- Gave a drama “Enlisted for the War.”
- Rumors are afloat that we are all to be dismissed. Governor, Council, and Legislature are making frequent visits and inspections.
- Barnum’s circus came in June. I took a load of patients over…
- On 4th had an oration and music by Riverside Band. A party of 63 of us went out to Hammonds Grove to picnic—had a fine time and no accidents.
- We have 213 females, largest number ever had.
- On Christmas had “A Christmas Carol.”
- Political turmoil at the State House.
- Have had a busy year—daily errands to town, errands for patients, taking inventory, purchasing the medicines; entertaining the trustees, visiting committee, legislators; admitting patients and interviewing relatives; driving relatives and visitors to and from depot; attending political rallies and Masonic meetings; chasing after escaped patients
1880 - Spring
- Wrote paper on Acute Melancholia for presentation at Kennebec County Medical Association.
- Dr. Neal relieved from duty, discharged ‘for choking’.
- Several cases of smallpox in Hallowell…There is a report of typhoid fever.
- Mrs. Neal gave Drs. Harlow and Oakes a scolding.
1881 - Winter/Spring
- Drama – “A Husband to Order”.
- Considerable visiting.
- Boston Herald has scurrilous attack upon hospital. Discovered Dr. Neal had written the letter to paper. Hospital Committee had a hearing and Dr. Neal and Miss Clough testified to inefficiency. I testified before Hospital Investigating Committee—on stand for 2 ½ hours. Investigation continued for several weeks. Opposition to hospital thoroughly beaten on all points. Much rejoicing here.
- Took patients to Hammonds Grove for picnic.
- Drama – “Neighbor Jackwood.”
- Have 450 patients.
- Several scarlet fever cases.
1882 - January
- Drama – “Husband to Order”.
- We have been written up again in the Boston Globe.
- N.M. Tewksbury has written an article in the Bangor Commercial that he was abused while a patient here.
- Trustees came to investigate the Tewksbury case. Mr. Lakin resigned and Dr. Harlow is going to.
- Dr. Harlow wrote his resignation. They want me to remain.
- Articles in the Herald against the Institution.
- Dr. Harlow and Mr. Lakin’s resignation published in the Kennebec Journal.
- Investigating Committee here on the Tewksbury case.
- Togus minstrels came.
- A paper is being circulated about the State for a female physician on the women’s side.
- Visited Worcester State Hospital and attended Medical Convention in New Haven. Visited hospitals at Middletown and Hartford Retreat.
- Trustees came. They elected Dr. Dana to the superintendent. Oh shaw!
- The Trustees want me to apply for the office of superintendent.
- A patient choked another to death.
1883 - Winter/Spring
- Dr. Harlow quite ill from Erysipelas of the face. Some of the Trustees say I shall be Superintendent. I have some Erysipelas inflammation in the great toe.
- A large number of visitors from the State House. Many dances. Went to the Governor’s reception…
- Drama –“One Hundred Years Ago.”
- Several physicians in town say they will gladly write me a letter of recommendation. Trustees are thinking of letting Dr. Harlow remain longer.
- Legislature passed our appropriation of $40,000.
- Members of House and Senate signed the petition recommending my promotion. Trustees assure me that they are all for me. Appointed by Trustees on 4/17 to take effect June 1; confirmed by Governor and Council.
- Articles in the Kennebec Journal 4/19 and 4/21. The Gospel Banner and other papers gave me a good send off.
- Visited asylums at Concord, Worcester, Springfield, Brattleboro, Utica, Poughkeepsie, Morriston, Bellevue. Took steamer to Norfolk—a severe storm and all hands sick. Visited friends and took steamer to Washington. Saw the President. On way home visited hospitals at Providence, Taunton, Boston, and Danvers.
- Had a gathering in Mr. Soule’s rooms and presented Dr. Harlow and wife a silver set—it cost $120.
- May 31 is Doctor Harlow’s last day as superintendent. A good man. Has been a father to me. No truer man ever lived. God bless him.
- Am elected president of County Medical Society.
- Am hard at work. Have had some trouble with attendants about their work, in the kitchen especially.
- Trustees promoted Dr. Hill to Assistant Superintendent. They elected Dr. Davies to the psoitio of 2nd Assistant Superintendent—salary $850.00. Trustees voted to bring water from the river, build a mortuary, make further arrangements for fire purposes.
- We moved in the Supt. Rooms. New carpets laid down.
- Picnic of 51 at Hammonds Grove.
- Making new rules. Several attendants gave their notices in consequence of new rules.
- Digging trench to river and laying pipe. Building pumphouse at river.
- Very busy admitting patients with help of Dr. Davies. Many are very bad. Writing 60-70 letters a day.
- The New Age had a scurrilous attack upon myself and Mr. Luce and others.
- Slanderous report in New Age.
- Building new building for females. Moved in day after Thanksgiving.
- 464 patients now.
- Worked many days on the annual report. Trustees accepted it, but thought it too long. They left out some nine pages.
- Spend many hours writing relatives of patients. Our correspondence is increasing year by year.
- To Belfast in January to give testimony in court case for first time.
- Grammar school boys gave entertainment.
- The males are very sick. Sickness continues unabated. Are doing all we can for them. We are all hard at work.
- Our hogs are dying off quite fast from an epidemic of hog cholera.
1885 - Winter
- Drama – “Above the Clouds”.
- Had a talk with kitchen help—kitchen dirty and sending off a bad odor.
- Governor and a large party over to dances. Our appropriation went through. These are very busy days. The Legislature voted to increase my salary to $1,600. There has been an exceedingly favorable disposition towards the Institution among the Representatives this winter.
- We have 480 patients.
- Governor visited—pleased with the looks of things.
- In June there was a meeting of Superintendents and wives at Saratoga at U.S. Hotel. Address was upon the curability of the insane. Very interesting sessions.
- Trustees liked my yearly report. They are highly pleased with the results of the year. It has been hard work for me. Health has not been good.
- Had a Christmas tree for the patients.
1886 - January
- To Boston to look at heaters and boilers.
- River ice being cut in front of hospital.
- Trustees voted to buy a new boiler and two hot water heaters not to exceed $1,400.00.
- Commenced cutting ice—is 15” thick.
- Dictated 114 letters one evening.
- We are having very little sickness among patients.
- Visited Worcester hospitals. On return reached Cumberland Junction by train where I was snowbound. Very severe storm but had a jolly time.
- We have 502 patients.
- Have purchased two pairs of oxen.
- All hands planting garden.
- I am poorly—worn from much work and must have a vacation. Work is increasing constantly. Shall go away after next Trustees’ visit.
- To Standish for vacation.
- Sixteen new patients while I was away.
- Haying at the hospital.
- Took 80 patients to Hammonds Grove, patients behaving well.
- We are building a greenhouse.
- We are planning on new buildings and moving the old chapel building.
- Meters begin set for introduction of gas from town.
1887 - January
- A female physician, Dr. M.E. Lowell, came to commence her duties.
- Hanson the carpenter who was here at work is trying to make trouble for the hospital. I did not want him to come—bad man.
- Visited Worcester hospitals and shopped in Boston for surgical instruments.
- We have 537 patients.
- Our appropriation passed the House without opposition.
- A fire consumed our straw barns.
- Heavy snowstorms.
- Patients have been slowly increasing in numbers all winter.
- Planted 125 trees.
- State Board of Health visited and found things in good shape.
- To Portland…to meeting of Maine Medical Association. Read my paper on “Employment of the Insane” and it was complimented by many.
- Took exam before Board of Pharmacy. Board voted to give me a certificate.
1888 - Winter
- Dictated 190 letters.
- To psychological meeting in Boston…staying at Adams House. To Asylum in Westboro.
- No horses are to be kept at the hospital except those owned by the institution.
- Large number of visitors to see patients.
- Trustees have rejected all bids for new building on account of exceeding the appropriation.
- Patients are having sore throats. Possibility of diphtheria. Have isolated them.
- Because of the epidemic I sent the family to Standish for over a month. After no new cases for a week I broke the quarantine.
- Dictated over 250 letters.
- Took a few days off and went to Standish and went blueberrying. Went to Portland to hear Blaine speak.
- Epidemic resumed and I left Maude, Walter, and Ray [Dr. Sanborn’s children] with Melintha in Standish and took wife and Warnie [Dr. Sanborn’s oldest son] to Hotel North in Augusta for a month. Board $1.50 per day for the wife and children; all children at hotel later.
- Trustees voted to have electric lights.
- In October Governor granted a right of way through the Arsenal for a road for the hospital.
- Moved family from hotel to Cony House. They all came home on Nov. 10…Five or six weeks after last case another occurred so I sent Maudie and Warnie to town to board again.
- More diphtheria cases and I sent children back to Hotel North.
1889 - March
- The appropriation of $100,000 passed as well as $25,000 for a new hospital near Bangor.
- Brought family home.
- Gave contract to build two new pavilions to J.A. Greenleaf of Auburn and B.M. Dixon of Lewiston for $80,000.
- Digging foundations for new pavilions.
- Still some cases of Diphtheria.
- Went to Bangor and went about with committee to look at various sites for new hospital.
- Steam mill to heat hospital for $11...
- Commission on the new insane hospital came to look over ours.
- Heat and ventilation installed in our new buildings.
- No signs of Diphtheria this fall.
1890 - Winter
- Quite a lot of cases of La Grippe and some typhoid fever.
- We are storing our ice, which is 16” thick.
- Testified at murder trial in Lewiston and rape case in Bangor.
- I let a party to up to East Vassalboro to a drama.
- There are quite a number of cases of tonsilitis.
- Visited hospital at Taunton.
- Went to Watertown to see washing machines.
- The new buildings are going along pretty well. They are working on the ventilation and heating.
- Another Diphtheria epidemic.
- To Niagara Falls to attend Superintendents National Convention. Met lots of superintendents I know.
- To Portland to buy new furniture for the new wings.
- Went out to Hartford to look at iron bedsteads and looked for chandeliers for the new buildings.
- A few cases of diphtheria.
- Patients are occupying the two lower wards of the new buildings, 38 on male side and 32 on female side.
- Was called to court tribal at Skowhegan.
- Moved patients into second hall of the new male pavilion.
- Trustees directed me to find a landscape gardener and see what we can do about grading and making lawns.
- Dr. Davies has a job in N.Y. and will give notice. Dr. Rowe to take his place and I engaged Dr. Vaughan of Skowhegan to come as an assistant physician.
- Dr. Davies married to Mary Harlow.
- The Trustees named the chapel Coburn Hall, the South new wing Harlow Hall, the North new wing Sanborn Hall.
1891 - January
- Legislature voted increase of $400 in my salary to $2,000 a year.
- There are a few cases of typhoid fever.
- Hospital Committee came over to see about the necessity of a new hospital at Bangor. The Committee seemed to think another hospital necessary.
- Went to Washington D.C. with wife and Maude…Attended medical meetings and visited the White House, the Smithsonian…
- Dr. Lowell is leaving for position at Mt. Holyoke.
- Went to Bsoton with wife and Walter to buy furniture at Paines for new wings…Went out to N.E. Hospitla to look for assistant physician. Interviewed Dr. Emma Baker.
- All had salmon and peas on the 4th.
- Went to Isle of Springs with the female patients on the Islander, a party of over a hundred.
- In August took male patients down on Islander.
- September- Dr. Baker came to work.
- Raised the new chimney stack in October.
- To Boston with wife and Warnie to meeting of N.E. Society. Dr. Davies red paper on paranoia.
- Went to Boston with wife to attend the N.E. Psy. Society.
1892 - Winter
- Quite a number sick with La Grippe.
- Hauling ice – only 14” thick.
- Read paper “Recent Experience in Diphtheria” at N.E. Psy. Society. It was pronounced very good and discussed very fully by all.
- Governor Burleigh says the institution is “rotten.” Rumor has it that the Governor desires my scalp and others on the medical staff. Ross, our clerk, is acting as spy. A letter from him was published in the Boston Globe. I do not think it will do the hospital any damage. I advised Ross to go—he did.
- To Portland to meeting of Maine Medical Association. A paper on Hynotism was read.
- We are repairing the center buildings, putting steel beams under the brick walls.
- I took 150 patients to Isle of Springs. One fell overboard but he was rescued alive.
- Dr. D.B. Crediford of Portland came as assistant and Dr. Rowe went away to his practice in Oakland. We presented him with a stomach pump.
1893 - January
- Talked to Governor’s Council about removing the State Prison patients back to the prison again. They thought favorably of the idea.
- Went to State House and introduced bill to light hospital with electricity.
- Went to Portland to take exhibits for the World’s Fair, taking a set of hospital reports and 16 views of the hospital.
- The appropriation for the Bangor Hospital passed in the House. Bill for the new hospital and wings for here were defeated in the Senate.
- Trustees are to buy the Severance place for $2,000. They voted to send me and wife to the Medical Psy. Society at Chicago.
- On April 5 received telegram that Dr. Harlow died suddenly.
- Visited Danvers Hospital.
- There are a few cases of Diphtheria.
- To Boston with wife on Sagadahoc and I was not especially sick. I visited various hospitals to inspect cow barns.
- The Trustees voted to build a cow barn.
- Trustees have decided to put in electric lights.
- We connected the electric lights to the infirmary. We have purchased granite for the porte cochere. We executed the contracts for wiring the hospital for electricity and lighting it.
1894 - Winter
- Dr. Vaughan was married and then came home to the hospital.
- Dr. Vaughan developed typhoid fever.
- We are hauling ice—it is of good quality, 16 inches.
- We put on the electric lights to the Stone wards and engine house for the first time.
- There are several cases of typhoid fever and diphtheria.
- Dr. Baker had her masquerade ball, a success and afforded pleasure to the patients.
- I had a word from the Governor that he had appointed me as chairman of the commission to visit the State Prison and examine some patients as to their sanity.
- Went to Boston with wife and Walter to buy furniture at Paines for Drs. Baker and Vaughan, then on to Philadelphia for superintendents’ convention. I visited several hospitals.
- Dr. Creddiford got married.
- In June the State House was struck by lightening.
- The Kennebec County Medical Society had an excursion to the Isle of Spings and had a very fine time. They took dinner at the Hotel and a lunch at our house.
- The Governor and Council took an excursion on the Islander and had lunch at our cottage. We later took a very large group of patients to the cottage and I was presented a flag by Trustee Governor Robie.
- Went to Boston with wife to see Maude, attend the theater, have an interview with the Mass. State Board of Health and Lunacy from whom I got many pointers. I afterwards visited hospitals at Middletown, Conn., Brattleboro, Vt., and Worcester.
- Walter and I went to Boston to visit Maude, attend the theater, and visit new hospital at Medfield.
- Dr. Creddiford informs me that he found Dr. Baker and Mr. Reed in a very compromising condition. I have had no knowledge of anything of the kind.
1895 - Winter
- The House voted for the Bangor Hospital 2 to 1.
- The Governor sent a message to the Senate vetoing my services at the State Prison. There was much ill feeling in the Senate against the Governor on account of his veto. I went to the Augusta House and saw the Governor. He said he had nothing against me and should be my friend. I went over to the State House and saw the Representatives and Senators and advised all of them to not interrupt the Governor in his veto.
- I went to the State House and saw and talked with many about the passage of our appropriation of $19,000 for a barn and piggery. Our appropriation passed the House one day, but the Representatives reconsidered it the next day and changed it to $14,000. When the question came up in the Senate one spoke against it and said Trustees have no right to purchase land and the superintendent has no right to lobby. But it passed.
- I went to Boston with wife and Ray to visit Maude. I went out to Danvers to visit barn and piggery and took measurements and examined ventilators and troughs.
- On April 1, there was a scandalous article in a Portland and Biddeford paper.
- I have been investigating Dr. Baker’s case all day. Dr. Creddiford tells hard stories about her. We have had a tedious investigation.
• Dr. Creddiford retracts his assertion that he say anything criminal about Dr. Baker and saw only indiscretions and then he probably drew largely upon his imagination.
- One of the Trustees says one of our clerks has got two of the attendants in a pregnant condition. He has got it mixed up with the Weaver case whom I discharged.
- The Trustees refuse to let Dr. Creddiford’s wife come to live at the institution. They cut down the number of horses at the stable.
- Patients had a relatively healthy winter.
- Dr. Davies and wife here.
- We have contracted for the brick barn and will move the old one.
- On trip to Thomaston for prison inspection we stopped off at Damariscotta Mills and visited the fisheries. It is a great sight to see the fish getting up into the pond.
- I visited Danvers, Worcester, Medfield, Morris Plains. The last is a very grand one and the best that I have ever seen in any respect. In Washington I visited the Government Hospital and in Baltimore the Shepherd Asylum. In White Plains I visited the Bloomingdale Hospital and in Boston I visited the McLean Asylum.
- Took sleeper to Bangor and looked over the sight of the new hospital.
- Called on Mr. Lynch about their editor and told him about his libelous article in the miserable exposé.
- Took patients to Isle of Springs and we ate at the Casino because of rain.
- Buffalo Bill was in Augusta with his show.
- Silo will be built for $1,000.
- I went down on excursion with the County Medical Society by Islander to Mouse Island, 18 men and ladies.
- Took an excursion of 150 patients to island. All enjoyed themselves finely and there was nothing to make it unpleasant.
- The Muster was in full blast and a large number of visitors were visiting the hospital to see friends and relatives. A large number of soldiers were here and were very annoying to the patients.
- The cottagers had a picnic dinner on our ground. It was a field day with baseball games and our boys beat the Squirrels.
- I get very tired with my work.
- The new barns are going along well with the brickwork nearly all done.
- I went to Bangor to meet the hospital committee and looked over plans. The committee came back with me and we went over the institution quite generally
- They put poor sheathing on the barn and I made them take it off.
- The architect of the new hospital came and I looked over plans with him.
- Trustees relieved Dr. Creddiford from duty to take effect October 1. They are to have the work done with one less physician.
- It was reported to me that Grant of the farm has been showing vile pictures in the dining room. I discharged him.
- The new barn is nearly completed. We are well along on the stable.
- Went to Portland to attend meeting at Eye and Ear Infirmary.
- The cows are giving more milk since they have been put in the new barn.
- Fowler, the attendant, is taking patients’ clothing and putting his own name on it.
- Quite a number of patients are very feeble and several are wearing out from exhaustion.
1896 - Late Winter/Spring
- March 1- We are having the highest water known except in the great ice freshet of ’71. Gardiner bridge gone. Much property being destroyed.
- Attended medical meeting in reference to a city hospital.
- Went to Boston to meeting of N.E. Psy. Society and to Danvers to examine piggery and barn.
- There is much gossip in the hospital. Mrs. Field, Mrs. Berry, and Miss Jennie McLaughlin say they saw Mrs. Huff and Gaudette in the summer house from 9 to 10 p.m. one week ago. The female help need more discipline. I discharged Mrs. Annie Huff and Gaudette. Mrs. Uff was very saucy to me. I had a talk with Mr. Huff about the discharge of his wife and he does not blame me.
- The Trustees contracted for building of piggery for $6,500.
- The Assessors were here. I made them take off $1,700.
- Took large group of patients to island. I wrote a letter to the Hospital Commission to be read at the laying of the corner stone of the new hospital building at Bangor. In August the second annual excursion to the island was an entire success.
- The Trustees voted to build an ice house and to wire the rest of the hospital for electricity [and] to tear down the old spire on the Chapel.
- Got the heat done at the piggery. Have got the ice house floor nearly graded.
- In November went to Bangor to visit the new hospital. The buildings look well, especially the granite ones.
- I have written a history for publication in the Portland Medical Journal of the hospital and will send it to Dr. Holt.
- It is reported that Calvin Day of Waterboro threatened he would shoot me for not letting him see Mrs. Remick and he is under arrest. He was bound over for his appearance at the Superior Court next April in the bail of $500. He will probably not find bail and will lie in jail. It is said he has been in State Prison for setting buildings on fire.
- I went to Boston with wife in December and we say “Roaring Dick” in the evening and I looked for a donkey engine.
1897 - Winter/Spring
- Went to Governor Powers’ address and had a long talk with him. He spoke well of us and is feeling well towards the hospital.
- Calvin Day was let out of jail by the jailor. He signed a letter begging my pardon.
- I was elected a director of the City Hospital for 3 years.
- Governor wants appropriation cut down $5,000. The Bangor appropriation was indefinitely postponed. Senate voted to do away with the Hospital Commission and reduced our appropriation to $175,000.
- In April went to Boston with Trustees to examine engine houses and boiler houses at various hospitals.
- Had stereopticon lecture of Japan for patients.
- In May wife, Maude, and I took boat…from Fall River to attend superintendents’ convention in Baltimore. Visited Maryland Hospital for the Insane. In Washington, visited the Capitol and the National Library and called at the White House.
- Dr. Page of the Danvers Hospital visited and thinks we have the best barn in the country.
- Went to Brunswick to procure an intern, a recent graduate, for one year.
- Dr. Hayes of Brunswick came to see me about coming as assistant physician.
- We put in a new smoke stack.
- In August on excursion to Isle of Springs two patients made their escape. Capt. Hodgdon’s boy rowed the patients across to Sawyers. Did not know who they were. One was returned.
- They have got the smoke stack on the boilers. Piping going very slowly. Put on the boilers and shut off the steam mill.
End of Year
- Year has been one of much comfort to the patients as a rule. There has been no epidemic of any kind and so especial accidents.
1898 - Winter/Spring
- We rented the Kinsman House for a city hospital at $395 per year less the taxes. He is to put in plumbing.
- Went to Portland to look up furniture for city hospital.
- We are appointing the medical staff of the Augusta City Hospital.
- Have commenced in earnest on my paper on necessity for further provision for the insane to be read at Maine Medical Association. Read paper in June in Portland.
1899 - Winter
- We are having considerable LaGrippe.
- Bangor Hospital appropriation passed without opposition—$225,000. We are asking for $25,000.
- Wife and I went to Boston for meeting of Psy. Society and visited Boston Hospital in Medfield.
- I still go to Thomaston monthly, usually on Saturday, to examine patients.
- At June meeting of Maine Medical Association at Bangor I was elected by a unanimous vote as President.
- We have quite a number of sick on the female side—lung troubles and weakness.
- Excursion to island a perfect success.
- Had a round robin letter from employees against Mrs. York that she is saucy and neglectful at the meals and refuses to wait upon them.
- We are building a coal tramway.
- I am lecturing to the nurses at City Hospital on nursing in mental disease.
1900 - Winter
- I am lecturing the nurses at the City Hospital in Melancholia.
- There are some complaints about neglect on the part of Dr. Baker from Visiting Committee. I had a talk with her about her neglect of duty—not answering her bell and being away too much.
- I examined the nurses for graduation at City Hospital.
- Quite a number of patients are suffering from Beriberi.
- We took 120 patients to island.
- I visited St. Catherine’s Hall to look property over for city hospital. The directors voted to purchase it.
- Dr. Henry Stinson has come here as an intern.
- We met with the Board of Directors of City Hospital and voted not to accept the offer of the Edwards of $5,000 to name the hospital for the Edwards family.
- I am lecturing the nurses on Acute Mania.
Later in Year
- J. W. Foster elected superintendent of new Bangor Hospital. Dr. Vaughan is first assistant.
1901 - Winter/Spring
- There are 20 in city hospital now.
- Our appropriation of $23,000 went through.
- Trustees voted to send 75 female patients to Bangor Hospital.
- Went to Portland to see about transfer of patient. The M.C.R.R. are to let us have a train for $150.
- We removed 70 of the females to Bangor on a special train. They arrived in good condition. Later sent some male patients.
- Nice article in the paper about our excursion today.
- Renewed contract with the Kennebec Light Co. at 10 cents per 1,000 watt current hours.
- Trustees voted to elect Dr. Stinson to the 3rd assistant’s position.
1902 - Winter
- Chizzle Wizzle was held in the Chapel.
- Dr. Stinson…went to take a post graduate course at Tufts.
- There is much friction at Bangor. Dr. Foster has discharged the engineer.
- Planning to renovate the female wing.
- I am writing a report on Recreation and Amusement of Patients.
End of Year
- The institution has made a good financial showing considering the high prices and amount of repairs and improvements.
1903 - Winter
- Several cases of Typhoid Fever in town.
- Went to Lewiston and lectured to nurses of the CMGH on nursing in mental disease in excitement and depression.
- The Legislature has passed our appropriations. They have been very friendly to us all winter.
- To Boston with wife to meeting of N.E. Psy. Society. Took part in the discussion on the Psychology of Epilepsy.
- Read my paper at the Kennebec County Medical Society “Statistics of Typhoid Fever during Recent Epidemic.”
- Trustees think Dr. Foster acts very strangely and is exceedingly arbitrary, that he ignores the Trustees entirely.
- Governor talked with me about affairs at Bangor. He complimented our hospital.
- Dr. Stinson came back from Boston on April 12.
- Our herd of cows is quite thoroughly contaminated with tuberculosis and we had to kill some. I went to Boston and visited various asylums to learn about their herd situation.
- I am writing a paper on “Insanity in Criminal Cases” for meeting of Kennebec County Medical Association.
- There was a meeting of the superintendents in Montreal and we were entertained as a society by the McGill Medical College.
- Maude was married at noon to Dr. Stinson.
- In September I chartered the car Cobbosseecontee and took a large number of female patients over the entire trolley line. They had a fine time. We took lunch at Hersey’s Island. We took the male patients on another day.
- We had a treat and a dance for the patients on Thanksgiving. Warren is leading the orchestra.
- We are making good progress on the new building.
1904 - Winter/Spring
- Dr. Foster, superintendent of Eastern Maine Insane Hospital, died of pneumonia. Dr. Vaughan has been appointed superintendent.
- I have been talking with the governor about the appropriation for the feeble-minded.
- Almost weekly I go to various towns to testify in court cases, and once or twice a week go to examine prospective admissions in consultations with local doctors. Have written a paper on “The Care of the Feeble-Minded.”
- Read my paper on the Feeble-Minded at National Convention of Charities and Correction at Portland.
- Our piggery burned down while the man in charge was at supper. Over a hundred hogs and pigs burned.
- Had excursion of over 200 to island.
- Trustees voted to rebuild piggery.
- Took trolley care of patients out to Island Park on picnic.
- Dr. Stinson went out to Branch Mills to see about going there as a physician. He thinks it is a good field.
- Dr. Stinson has concluded to go to Branch Mills and Maude will go later.
1905 - Winter/Spring
- Hired Dr. John McDonald of Bangor hospital to come here as assistant.
- Went over before Appropriations Committee and spoke for the city hospital.
- A few cases of typhoid fever.
- The U.S. Congress has given the Arsenal to the State for this institution. Great gift for us. I called the Governor and he favors an appropriation for renovating the arsenal. We shall fare well.
- Our appropriation passed, but not the one for Bangor.
- In March to Boston with wife and went out to Foxboro to N.E. Psy. Socity. They all say that the open plan for treatment of the chronic insane is to be the method.
- I am lecturing to the nurses at the cit hospital.
- Trustees, wife, and I went to Widows Island on morning train, came back to the Thorndikea nd had meeting in evening and remained all night.
- Arsenal building let to construction firm for $35,268. State appropriation: $78,500. For Arsenal building $56,000.
- Keeper at Arsenal refuses to let us in to commence work. Governor is to telegraph Headquarters. I went to Ft. Williams in Portland and obtained permission to operate the Arsenal.
- July 4 - 30 males went to Widows Island with 4 attendants and Dr. McDonald. On July 6 the KJ had an article on Widows Island.
- On the 20th I visited the patients on Widows Island and they were all very comfortable.
- On August 4 I went down to Widows Island with 28 females and took back the males.
- Went down to prison with Mr. Macomber in his automobile—took 3 hrs. 25 minutes.
- Sept.- Invited Governor and Council to go to Widows Island with me and the Trustees. Found patients well – all liked the island. [See poem by patient.]
- Oct. – To picnic at Island Park with 42 females.
- We may make the stone tenement of Arsenal into a home for the criminally insane.
- Went to the prison and recommended that a segregated building be built there for the insane—the inspectors approved.
End of Year
- We have had a prosperous year with the acquisition of the Arsenal and Widow’s Island property.
1906 - Winter
- Lectured at City Hospital on Melancholia.
- Read my paper at the County Medical society—“Hospital Provision for the Criminal Insane.”
- Wife sat up 45 minutes, the longest for weeks. Doctor now expresses fears wife has cancer of the bowels.
- 36 patients went to island.
- 6/11 – Wife is very feeble and courage gone. Less clear in mind. I shall be lonely without her. She has been a most excellent wife.
- 6/16 - I came here 40 years ago today to commence as assistant physician and saw wife for the first time.
- 6/17 – Wife has passed away very peacefully and without a struggle. A good wife has gone.
- In July I went to Widow’s Island and found the patients all quite nicely.
- I went to Widow’s Island and found the patients all very well but most of them want to come home. Walter went to Widow’s Island to help bring the patients home.
- 22 chronic patients came from the Bangor Hospital.
- Our cows have been examined and are quite Tuberculous. Trustees authorized 20 to be slaughtered.
- Dr. Vaughan is here and is drinking heavily. I went to Bangor to see Dr. Vaughan and he promised to leave off drinking.
- I miss my dear wife almost as much as when she first passed, I trust, to a higher life. God grant that I may meet and know her.
1907 - Winter
- It is decided to kill all of the cattle right away.
- Trustees voted to give me a month’s vacation and to pay my expenses to visit various institutions.
- Went before Agricultural Committee about appropriation for purchase of new stock.
- Started on vacation…Went to Cleveland and St. Louse. Took sleeper to Kansas City and visited hospital at Topeka and then with on to Hutchinson, Kansas….Went through Oklahoma and Indian Territory…Reach Ft. Worth and then Austin…the Institutions are all uncleanly and they have no regard for cleanliness in the South. Visited Austin Hospital and then San Antonio.
- On April 4 we were in Mexico. We found a difference at once. Mud huts…Mexico City is a fine city. Got permission from consulate to visit President Diaz’ castle and also the largest cathedral in America. The lower class Mexicans are in deep poverty, half-clad, sleep in filthy huts. Stores all open on Sunday—no regard for the Sabbath…The hospitals for the insane are more than 500 years behind the times. They are not fit for a hog pen…
- When I arrived in Springfield [on way home] I received word that Maude had died [from appendicitis].
- 4/15 We laid dear Maude to rest with dear wife.
- New wharf is almost done.
- Dr. Vaughan is at he Butler Hospital near Boston for treatment. He has been drinking heavily of late and probably takes morphine. Went to visit him with Trustee Macomber.
- We have 824 patients.
- 40 patients went to Chase’s Island (Widow’s Island).
- Dr. Vaughan has asked to resign.
- Trustees voted to employ Dr. Vaughan as house physician at the Arsenal.
- Visited patients at Chases Island. They were all comfortable and were very glad to see me.
- I am looking for an intern. Went out to Togus and am to have Dr. Stinson for a few weeks to help me here. Dr. Horsman went to Chase’s Island to relive Dr. McDonald to go to Concord. Dr. Hill and I are all alone.
- Fixed site for new Criminal Insane Building.
- 7/31 - Went to Chase’s Island to visit the patients with the Governor and Council.
- A poor hay crop at the hospital this year.
- Female patients come home from Chase’s and the next day 39 males went down.
- The Trustees have concluded not to have Dr. Vaughan come. I am to pay Dr. Stinson $75 a month.
- Trustees have been informed that I have been having intercourse with a woman in town.
- I am involved in many lengthy court cases. Trustees plan to discharge Dr. Hill in 6 months. He handed in his resignation.
- Dr. Horsman elected to the 1st assistant position.
- Have been appointed examiner of the girls at Industrial school at Hallowell.
1908 - Winter
- I have La Grippe and had to have a trained nurse for 21/2 weeks and lost 21 ½ pounds.
- Trustees elected Dr. Hedin as 2nd assistant from my recommendation.
- Dr. Vaughan is here and is looking very well.
- Dr. Vaughan is here and I fear he is taking morphine.
- Dr. Hill and wife left for California.
- Walter joined me on a trip to Superintendents Convention in Cincinnati where I read a paper.
- Two interns have come to work.
- Wing of Criminal Insane Building finished and 14 patients were sent here from Thomaston Prison.
- Dr. Hedin left to be married.
- Six patients went to the Topsham Fair.
- I hired Dr. Roland L. McKay as intern.
- Have been discussing new buildings with Trustees. We shall ask for two new wings and the renovation of the kitchen.
- Gave five lectures to the nurses at City Hospital.
- Trustees voted me a one to three month vacation with pay. Have not felt well for a few weeks.
1909 - Winter
- I am gaining slowly but am weak…I started on vacation Jan. 4., arriving at Piney Woods Inn, Southern Pines, North Carolina…
- March 11 – Left hotel and stopped in Baltimore…and visited Johns Hopkins Hospital.
- Attended meeting of Psychiatry and Neurological Society in Boston.
- Am trying to find a good assistant.
- Reached home March 20.
- Have hired Dr. Annette Bennett.
- I am feeling very well indeed now.
- Dr. McKay has pneumonia, and Dr. Horsman has La Grippe.
- 40 females went to Chase Island.
- I am giving lectures to the nurses at city hospital.
- A large group of patients is staying at Chase Island.
- We took females to Winthrop on trolley.
- I am beginning a series of nursing lectures to 23 student nurses.
- Dr. Hedin has been appointed Medical Director. I do not know how it will work—it is an experiment. The Trustees want me to do much less work.
- I have been to the Boston City Hospital, the Mass. General, and McLean but cannot find an assistant or nurse.
- We took 35 patients to Bangor. They were noisy all the way but we had no accident.
- I am attending many court cases throughout the state, giving medical testimony.
- Governor Robie has been a Trustee here for 20 years.
1910 - Winter
- Twenty Tubercular patients have been sent to Bangor.
- We are occupying the new building at the Arsenal and have named it the Burleigh Annex.
- On 4/15 Dr. Sanborn had a cerebral hemorrhage in bed at night, was unconscious, and died 4/18 with all his sons at the bedside. Funeral was April 20.
Governor’s Day at Widow’s Island
All’s excitement and commotion,
What on earth can be to pay;
Why, the Superintendent’s coming,
And tomorrow’s “Governor’s Day”.
See the graceful decorations,
Goldenrod and dainty fern;
Gathered by the frisky patients,
Headed by doctor stern.
This same dignified physician
Finds himself with sudden halt,
Without ceremony, seated
In the water cold, and salt.
We’ll not dwell on his expression
As he rises to his feet,
One and all are prone to stumble,
Therefore, let us be discreet.
To return to safer subjects,
Thirty-five have come to dine;
Foremost of them, Gov. Robie,
Form erect, and face benign.
Mrs. Smith serene and clever,
Jolly Mr. White, Judge Chase
To whose shrewdness we’re indebted
For this restful, charming place.
Any doubtful of the beauty
Sight into the mind instills,
Should but see this evening’s sunset
Lighting up the Camden hills.
Like yon hills, our minds once clouded
By dark care and shadows grey,
Now are flooded by the sunlight,
Driving grief and gloom away.
All too soon the party leaves us,
Pleasant guests, through short their stay,
Long by us will be remembered
Window’s Island’s gala day.
Mary W. Litchfield
September 2, 1905