Monday, December 26, 2011

Madness Monday - Trenton Insane Asylum (Part II) Sad Tale of Two Sisters

Entrance to State Hospital for the Insane, Trenton, NJ 1917
This 1917 postcard showing the entrance to the New Jersey State Hospital, or more commonly called at the time, the Trenton Lunatic Asylum presents a pleasing picture of calm and tranquility.  As we all know however, pictures can be quite deceiving.  As I discussed in Part I of my story on Mary and Ella Rogers, from what I have learned I believe their time spent in this institution was anything but pleasant.

In the 1910 Census, the only Rogers listed in the State Asylum is Ellen Rogers which I believe to be Mary although the age is off a few years.  I could not find her listed in the 1920 census.  In the 1930 census, once again under the State Asylum is a Mary Rogers, born in Pennsylvania, which is correct.  However, the age is listed as 53 which would be incorrect.  Surprisingly, also listed is Ella Rogers, her sister. 
1930 Trenton City Census, New Jersey State Hospital

Dec 1927 Trenton Evening Times
Next I found two articles on Ella Rogers;  the first pertaining to guardianship in December of 1927 in the Trenton Evening Times for Miss Ella M. Rogers, formerly of 125 Jackson Street who is now a patient of the state lunacy hospital.  The article stated Ella Rogers had entered the institution on 6 Jun 1925, had been released twice when her condition improved, but was now bedfast and a guardian was needed and her property must be sold to assist in payment of her care.  The second article was her obituary dated 24 Nov 1948 in the Trenton Evening Times. 

24 Nov 1948 Trenton Evening Times

This entire story makes me terribly sad.  These two sisters both seem to have spent a large part of their lives in the New Jersey Insane Asylum; Mary for nearly forty years, Ella for over twenty years.  The research I’ve done on this institution has been horrifying.  From 1907 to 1933 the asylum was run by Dr. Henry Cotton who believed that insanity was the result of untreated infections in the body.  His treatment was “surgical bacteriology” or the removal of teeth, tonsils, testicles, ovaries, gall bladders, stomachs, spleens cervixes and especially colons.  The patients of the asylum were continuously subjected to these gruesome experimental surgeries in a time before antibiotics which resulted in a high mortality rate.  Many were dragged kicking and screaming to surgery as they knew what was coming.  Amazingly, Dr. Cotton was considered a "pioneer" in his field by the medical community, as reported by Mike Adams, award-winning journalist in his article about the "Dark History of Modern Medicine."

Several things occur to me;  one, before his death in 1907 Dr. Elmer H. Rogers, their brother, according to newspaper articles I have found, admitted patients to this asylum and went there on occasion to treat patients - he surely must have witnessed some of the shocking conditions although from what I have read the worst started around the time of his death. Two, how ironic that these two women who came from what seemed to be a charmed background, lived and died in this horrific institution.  Thirdly, I wonder if they were housed in the same vicinity and if so, were they even sane enough to know that they were sisters?  

It’s been over one hundred and ten years since Mary was admitted to this institution, around her early thirties and it brings tears to my eyes to think of this poor woman and her sad, tortured, wasted life.  I have no information abut her actual diagnosis, was she really “mad” or was she sent away by her family as was common for the times when they didn't know how to handle what is easily treated today as depression or perhaps even a bi-polar condition?  Whatever the truth, I don’t believe she and her sister deserved the “cure" they received.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - NJ State Lunatic Asylum - Trenton

This picture follows up Part I of my Madness Monday (December 19, 2011) story on Mary and Ella Rogers.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Madness Monday - Trenton Insane Asylum & the Sad Tale of Two Sisters - Part I

Family history can be fun, rewarding, fascinating, sometimes frustrating or even boring.  However, in the story of sisters Mary and Ella Rogers, my husband’s great-grand aunts, I stumbled upon a story that at first puzzled, then absolutely chilled me to the bone.  When I first began researching my husband’s family I was very excited to discover first his great grandfather, Dr. Elmer H. Rogers of Trenton, NJ and then Elmer’s father Levi H. Rogers originally from Bucks County, PA.  Levi and his wife, Jane Eliza Sharp  raised five children, three sons and two daughters.    From what I have pieced together, Levi was a prosperous farmer and landowner.  The three sons were led first by Elmer who was born in 1858, became a well-known physician in Trenton, NJ and died in 1907.  Next was Benjamin born in 1861, also became a physician of some note and died in 1923 in California.  The third born was Irvin in 1863, also quite successful and well-known in the Trenton area as the secretary of the Standard Fire Insurance Company and died in 1912.  I found many newspaper articles on these three successful and prosperous sons. 

The two youngest children of Levi and Jane Rogers were daughters, Mary E. born in 1866 and Ella E. born in 1867.  Both sisters are found in the 1870 and 1880 Lower Makefield, Bucks County, PA census.  It appears that sometime before his death in 1892 Levi and Jane moved to Trenton where their prosperous sons were residing.  The only funeral notice for Levi states that the funeral was to be held from his son Elmer’s residence.  It did not name any of his other children.  In the 1900 Trenton Ward 1, Mercer, New Jersey census, I found his wife Jane and daughter Ella living at 4 East State Street both listing their occupation as Artist.  From this, I originally assumed daughter Mary had married before 1900, but never came across a marriage record or announcement.

In the 1910 Trenton Ward 3, Mercer, New Jersey census, I found Jane age 72 and daughter Ella aged 39 living at 125 Jackson Street.  Ella again listed her occupation as Artist.  Additionally, son Elmer H. Rogers had died in 1907 and I was fortunate to have found his obituary.  It listed his survivors as his wife, children, mother (Jane) brothers Benjamin and Irvin, but interestingly enough did not list his sisters Ella and Mary.

The 1889-1892 Trenton City Directory listed sisters Mary and Ella Rogers as living at 23 East State Street.  The 1895-1896 listed them as living at 6 East State Street and their occupations as Artists.  
Of course, then Mary disappeared and I assumed she had married until I deduced she was dead first from her brother Elmer’s obituary, then from brother Irvin’s obituary in 1912 which listed Ella, but not Mary.  The mother Jane died in 1918 and her obituary listed her only surviving children as Benjamin and Ella.

I could not find Ella in the 1920 census but I found her in the 1920 Trenton City Directory living still at 125 Jackson Street, her occupation artist.  She was mentioned again in her brother Benjamin’s obituary in May 1923, listing his only surviving sibling as Ella.

If you are confused at this point, believe me so was I!  About this time I received in the mail, the will of Dr. Elmer H. Rogers which I had ordered some time before.   Dr. Rogers was quite wealthy and in that will he made bequests for several family members including his wife and children, his wife’s brother and a loyal servant.  I read that will, which was dated and signed 8 May 1905 several times before I realized that he also mentioned his sisters.  Not sister, but both his sisters, Ella AND Mary which means Mary was still alive in 1905.  

Now I was totally bewildered.  If she was alive in 1905, why was she never mentioned in anyone’s obituary that died after 1900?  I have a subscription to the Trenton Times archives, but had never come across any articles or obituaries for her.  I started searching again using different search parameters and also using sister Ella’s name again and voila! came up with this obituary for Miss Mary Rogers in 1939, who died of a lengthy illness, whose only surviving relative was a sister Miss Ella Rogers.  

Where the heck had this woman been for over 39 years?  I went back to and did another census search for 1900 and found a Mary E. Rogus (upon careful inspection of the actual document it is Rogers) living in the New Jersey State Hospital or as it was known, the State Insane Asylum.  She was listed as a patient and her occupation was listed as Teacher of Art.  Aha!  Lightbulb goes on!

Next week I will tell conclude Mary and Ella's story and tell you about what I learned about the horrible conditions at the Trenton "Lunatic" Asylum.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - David R. C. Johnston, Trenton, NJ

David R.C. Johnston Oct 1859 - 31 Dec 1945

I had searched for over a year with little luck for the death date of my husband's great-grandfather, David R. C. Johnston who was born in October 1859 in Jefferson County, PA to Andrew Jackson and Eliza Mariah (London) Johnston.  He and his wife, Mary Elizabeth Hildinger moved to Trenton, NJ around 1914 when he began working as as manager for his brother-in-law, Charles C. Hildinger, at his growing movie theater business.

Ewing Church Cemetery, Trenton, NJ
Using numerous sources, including my subscription to the Trenton Times archives, I found a number of articles on David and Mary Johnston and their daughter Luella Ruth who married Dr. Alvin S. Rogers (my husband's grandfather) including Mary's obituary in 1954.  I never had any luck finding David's death date.  Finally a little luck came my way via a wonderful Find-A-Grave volunteer, Mark Snyder who had taken a picture of this Johnston headstone for me for Mary E. Hildinger Johnston.  Mary's name wasn't on the stone, just the name Johnston, but the headstone was near the Hildinger and Sweet headstones who are Mary's siblings.  Mark went out of his way to GO BACK to the cemetery office a few days later to ask if they could check their burial records to see if David was buried there as well.  They confirmed that David C. Johnston died 31 Dec 1945 at age 86 years, 2 months and was buried next to Mary in plot C123.  Find-A-Grave volunteers are the best!

They also reported that a Susan L. Rogers had been buried in the Johnston family plot on 5 Aug 1971.  That would have to be Luella Ruth Johnston, the daughter of David and Mary, my husband's grandmother.  She changed her name to Susan sometime after her husband Dr. Alvin Rogers died in 1937 and she later died in Miami, FL in 1969 and was cremated.  I assume my father-in-law took her ashes back to Trenton for interment.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Claire Helen Hildinger Moldovan - Trenton Movie Heir

Trenton Evening Times  1 May 1942
Claire Helen Hildinger Moldovan
17 May 1920 - 30 Nov 1982

Claire Helen Hildinger Moldovan, wife of George Moldovan, and only daughter of the late Charles C. and Helen (Dunn) Hildinger was born 17 May 1920 in Trenton, NJ and died 30 Nov 1982 in Belleair Bluffs, Fl.  Her father was a prominent Trenton, NJ businessman known as the "Nickel King" who created the first movie theaters in Trenton in the early 1900's.  She was also preceded in death by a brother, John Clark Hildinger in 1968.  Burial was at Ewing Church Cemetery in the family plot.

Trenton Times 2 Dec 1982

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Movie Heir, John Clark Hildinger - Trenton, NJ

John Clark Hildinger 24 Sep 1916 - 3 May 1968

J. Clark Hildinger - 1947

John Clark Hildinger was born in Trenton, New Jersey on 24 Sep 1916 to Charles Clark Hildinger and Helen Beatrice (Dunn) Hildinger.  Young Clark was born into Trenton royalty, his father the owner of a string of motion picture houses and who was known as the “nickel king.”  His father died in 1931 and his mother stepped into his shoes.  After his mother’s death in 1960 Clark took over the reins of the family business. 

Clark Hildinger was a veteran of World War II.   He left the family business in April 1942 entering the U.S. Army as a private at Fort Dix.  In March 1943 he was promoted to Corporal.

Trenton Times 3 May 1968

Clark was survived by one sister, Claire Hildinger and several cousins.  He was a first cousin once removed to my father-in-law, Alvin S. Rogers.  The funeral was held at William Murphy Funeral Home, 149 North Warren Street.  He was buried in the family plot at Ewing Church Cemetery, Trenton, New Jersey.
Ewing Church Cemetery - photo courtesy of Mark Snyder Find-A-Grave

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Warren Street, Trenton, NJ

Warren Street, showing St. Mary's Catholic Church, Trenton, NJ ca 1900-1910
Another great find on eBay, a postcard from around 1900 showing St. Mary's Catholic Church on Warren Street in Trenton, NJ.  What is the particular interest in this card you may ask?  Well, St. Mary's Catholic Church which is still there today is located at 151 N. Warren Street and my husband's ancestor, his great-grandfather, Dr. Elmer H. Rogers lived and conducted his medical practice from 126 N. Warren Street which would have been across the street.  I don't know if the house still exists today, but he and his family surely shopped frequently on nearby Warren Street and this postcard gives me such a visual of what the street must have looked like.  I have posted before how Dr. Rogers frequently took his horse and buggy on medical calls.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day America!!

In Remembrance

On this Fourth of July, 2011 remembering my husband's ancestors who fought for our country including his 5X great-grandfather Samuel Callender (1756 - 1830) who fought in the Revolutionary War, his first cousin twice removed, Dr. Lawrence Harrison Rogers (1883 -1959) who served in WWI, another first cousin twice removed, Corporal John Clark Hildinger who served in the Army in WWII and his own father, Alvin Stackhouse Rogers (1926 - 1993) who served in WWII in the US Navy aboard the US Nevada.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Military Monday – George Washington’s Bodyguard - Samuel Callender

Samuel Callender 1756 - 12 Mar 1830

Sadly, I haven’t had much time to work on my genealogy research lately, but today while I was cleaning off my desk I took a break and started clicking on those leaves on on my husband’s genealogy.  His family history is so rich and full of interesting characters.  I have long been interested in his two times great-grandmother Elizabeth Mariah London Johnston, daughter of  Truman Beauman London and great-granddaughter of Samuel Callendar.  I have been planning for some time to write about Eliza Maria as she was known, but today as I was looking at her family tree I noticed the shaking leaf on Samuel Callendar who would be my husband's five times great-grandfather, and realized there were six (6) hints.  Although I had added him to the family tree some time ago, I had never really paid much attention to his line.  Imagine my surprise to realize that he was a Revolutionary War veteran, but not only that, according to Pennsylvania Veterans Burial Cards; he was a body guard to George Washington!

The burial card states he was buried in Montdale Cemetery in Montdale, PA in Lackawanna County.  At first I could not find a cemetery with that name in Lackawanna County, but after a few minutes of searching I finally discovered he was already listed on Find-A-Grave in Scott Valley Cemetery in Montdale, Lackawanna County, PA.  Click on the link to see the great picture of his stone which also mentions his service and duty as body guard to George Washington.

What another great find in my husband’s family history!  Of course, as usual, I am more excited about it than he is……sigh.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Helen Rogers - Trenton, NJ

I wrote last week about the short life of Ellerslie Wallace Rogers, son of Dr. Elmer H. and Mary (Bowers) Rogers.  Sadly, they were to lose another child two and a half years later, their four year-old daughter Helen.  I would have never known about Helen, except I came across this short notice in the Trenton Times:

Trenton Times 21 Jul 1897

Once again, no mention as to the cause of death and I can only guess at the sadness and despair the parents felt, especially the father being a doctor and unable to save his own child.

Just this week I received notification that a Find-A-Grave contributor had added these pictures of Ellerslie and Helen's headstones and I am very grateful to have both of these pictures.

Riverview Cemetery, Trenton, NJ

Rogers Children, Main Stone, Riverview Cemetery

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Talented Tuesday - Trenton Physician Discovers Secret in Clays

Trenton Physician Discovers Long Sought Secret in Clays

Dr. Elmer H. Rogers (1858 – 1907), my husband’s great-grandfather, was a well-respected physician and businessman in Trenton, NJ.  Besides his thriving medical practice, it appears he invested in real estate and other businesses.  I recently came across this article in the Trenton Times (17 Jun 1905) that talks about his discovery of a special clay that when made into bricks “possessed the hardness of a piece of granite and the enamel was perfect.”  This article was of special interest to me as his grandson Alvin, who was born nearly twenty years after his death, would later become a stone and brick mason and his son, my husband, a contractor. 

The article talks about Dr. Rogers’ ownership of a property “on which is deposited an almost inexhaustible supply of the right quality in its natural state.”  It goes on to further state his intention to form a company to develop and manufacture bricks to be sold on the market.  I don’t know if this business venture ever got off the ground, it has never been heard of in this generation of the family.  I have not found any further articles to substantiate the company and Dr. Rogers died 11 Apr 1907.  Here is the article as it appeared:

Trenton Times - Saturday, 17 Jun 1905

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Ellerslie Wallace Rogers - Trenton, NJ

I have written before of the sad, short life of the first-born son of Dr. Elmer H. and Mary (Bowers) Rogers, Ellerslie Wallace Rogers.  He was my husband's grand-uncle.  Although his father was a respected Trenton, NJ physician, he was not able to save his own child from dying.  I have not been able to find out why Ellerslie or Wallace as it appeared he was called died, the only mention of his death is this short mention in the Trenton Times on 20 Feb 1895:

Although some months ago I had requested via Find-A-Grave, a photograph of his headstone at Riverview Cemetery in the family plot, I was very disappointed to be told there was none.  However, just this week out of the blue I received notification that another Find-A-Grave contributor had added these pictures of Ellerslie and his sister Helen's headstones (who I will write about also) and I am so grateful to have these pictures.

Riverview Cemetery, Trenton, NJ

Main Headstone - Rogers Children

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Mercer Hospital, Trenton, New Jersey

I was lucky enough to score these vintage postcards on eBay of Mercer Hospital in Trenton, New Jersey where my husband's ancestors were affiliated, first his great-grandfather, Dr. Elmer H. Rogers who died in 1907 and then his grandfather, Dr. Alvin Stackhouse Rogers, Sr. who died in 1937.

These postcards are postmarked circa 1910 -1913 so are very indicative of the era.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Trenton, NJ - A Century Ago

Having never been to Trenton, NJ where many of my husband's paternal ancestors lived for quite some time, it is hard to get a feel for the area.  Since there are no family pictures from his father's side of the family I can't look back that way either.  I have been lucky to find a couple of old pictures by purchasing a subscription to the historical archives of the Trenton Times for which I am thankful.

Broad Street, Trenton, NJ Postmarked 1909
Another way I have recently found to get an idea of the times these ancestors lived in is to buy old postcards.  I have been lurking on eBay and bidding on those of interest.  Just last night I lost out on one of Mercer Hospital where both his grandfather and great-grandfather both worked as doctors.  That really hurt, but I have to believe I will come across another one!  Here is one I recently bought with a postmark of 1909 depicting a typical scene on Broad Street.  My husband's great-grandfather, Dr. Elmer H. Rogers, well-known, respected doctor and city physician of Trenton died in 1907, but this is close enough to give me an idea of how he must have driven about daily in his horse and buggy, navigating the streets of Trenton.  Evidently this undertaking could be quite precarious and tricky.  See the stories below.

Trenton Times 18 Aug 1888

Trenton Times 7 Nov 1903  
Trenton Sunday Advertiser 13 Dec 1903

Monday, January 24, 2011

Military Monday - Cadet Clark Hildinger of Trenton, NJ

From the Trenton Evening Times 15 Oct 1933 - Clark Hildinger, son of Charles and Helen (Dunn) Hildinger theater owners of Trenton, New Jersey.  Clark attended the Staunton Military Academy at Staunton, West Virginia.

In 1942, J. Clark, then aged 25 and an executive with his family's theater chain, left for armed forces as evidenced by this article in the Trenton Evening Times 16 Apr 1942.  He was honored in a surprise reception by 50 of his associates including his mother, his cousin Charles F. Sweet who worked for the Hildinger enterprises for many years.  Also, attending was David R. C. Johnston, Clark's uncle who was married to Mary Elizabeth Hildinger, sister to Clark's father Charles Hildinger.  David worked for the Hildingers for many years as a theater manager first starting at the old Park theater which later became the Rialto and later as manager at the Strand.  David Johnston was my husband's great-grandfather.


In March of 1943 J. Clark was promoted from private to corporal and headquartered at Fort Dix.  Upon his return to Trenton after his service he again took up his position as an executive with the Hildinger Theater enterprises.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Those Places Thursday - Stacy-Trent Hotel, Trenton, NJ

I bought this great old postcard of the Stacy-Trent Hotel in Trenton, New Jersey.  The first class hotel was located at the corner of State and Willow.  It opened its doors on 19 Sep 1921.  Many important people including celebreties and government officials made the Stacy-Trent their base while in Trenton.  Unfortunately, business declined during the 1950's and 1960's and the building was demolished in 1967.

Stacy-Trent Hotel 1920's

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday - The Princess - Trenton, NJ Theatre History

Grand Opening of Princess Theatre Owned by Hildinger Theatre Interests

Trenton Evening Times 12 Nov 1914

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday's Obituary - Helen Dunn Hildinger

Helen Beatrice Dunn Hildinger 1895 - 1960
Born:  Jan 1895
Died:  15 Dec 1960
Father:  Harry Dunn
Mother:  Margaret A. Mooney

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