Jon Crispin's Notebook

Anna Lucille Earley, Willard Nurse

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I got a call a few weeks ago from Craig Williams telling me that a trunk had been discovered in the attic of the Covert Funeral Home in Ovid, NY that belonged to a woman who was a nurse at Willard in the early part of the 20th Century.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

At that time Craig wasn’t too sure of many of the details but thought I might be interested if anything came of it.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig has been working at the Romulus Historical Society with Peggy Ellsworth who worked at Willard and has been a great friend to the suitcases project.  Peg has been the go-to person for all things Willard since the institution closed in 1995.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Last Friday Paul McPherson who is the current director of the funeral home brought the trunk to the historical society for Craig and Peg to have a look.  They were really enthused and Craig called to see if I could take a few photos as he unpacked the items and started to conserve and catalogue the collection.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The contents of the trunk are in great shape, and it is amazing to see how well preserved the items are.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

I love seeing these old commercial products in their early packaging.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

There were several mounted photographs in the trunk, as well as this envelope which contain a large number of photographic negatives.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig scanned a few and the quality is amazing.

photo baseball rs

The Willard baseball team was almost certainly made up of staff, and not patients.  But one has to wonder if any of the patients ever made it onto the diamond.

photo nurses rs

I think this scan was from a print.  In addition to having worked at Willard as a nurse, she was a graduate of the institution’s school of nursing.  Craig and Peg are looking at the images to try to figure out which one in the photos is Anna.  None are identified on the back, so it might be quite a job.

earley neg 05s

The above photo is especially exciting, as the building in the background is the sheltered workshop where the suitcases were stored in the attic and were rediscovered in 1995.  The collection of cases dates from 1910 to 1965 and Anna was at Willard starting in the late teens, so it is very likely that she worked with some of the owners.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As we found in many of the suitcases there is a broad range of items in Anna’s trunk; she had saved things that can tell a fairly complete story of her life, and more broadly, what life at Willard was like in the 1920s.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This box contains a lot of personal correspondence, including some very interesting postcards.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It took a minute to figure out this one.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

It became clear once we saw the “soldier’s mail” postmark.  Let’s hope H. C. Norris made it through the war safely.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

As a nurse at Willard, she would have lived on the grounds and received her mail there.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This inscription is especially touching and a bit mysterious.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Craig and I didn’t have much time to go through the notebooks, but this is a huge trove of original source material that will be interesting to study once everything is catalogued.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Perhaps the most intriguing is this small diary from 1918 which contains day to day accounts of Anna’s life at Willard.  To the left is a playbill for “Farmer’s Daughter” which played at Hadley Hall on the Willard grounds.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna’s Student’s Note Book is pretty interesting.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Her hand writing is very readable.   I didn’t see any crossed out sections as I flipped through the pages.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

This small brooch is pretty.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

The trunk itself is is great shape.

Trunk belonging to Anne Earley, nurse at Willard.

Anna is buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery in Ovid.  Craig took this photo of her gravestone.

_DSC8853es

The Romulus Historical Society will be putting an exhibit together of the trunk and contents sometime soon.  The museum is located in the town of Willard and is only open until the end of September.  It is not clear if anything will happen before then, but Peggy is eager for the collection to see the light of day.  I’ll update here when I know details.  There is obviously a ton of work to be done researching Anna’s life, but this is really an amazing find.

Special thanks go to Paul McPherson for contacting the historical society with this incredible look into the life of Anna.  A find like this really brings history alive.  It will be interesting to see what develops once everything is conserved and catalogued.  And as always thanks to Peggy Ellsworth for her tireless work in remembering the patients and staff at Willard, and to Craig Williams for keeping me in the loop.

 

 

Willard Suitcases / Margaret D. / Uniforms

Posted in Abandoned Buildings, History, Institutions, Mental Health, nurses uniforms by joncrispin on 14/05/2015

We are still working on Margaret D’s cases.  This is the second batch of nursing uniforms that we have photographed.  She worked in various hospitals in Upstate New York before coming to Willard as a patient.

All of her things are in good condition, and these garments are all clean and moderately starched.

As I grew up in Meadville, PA (home of Talon Zippers!), I always look at any that are in the collection.  It was by far the most popular of all zippers throughout most of the 20th Century.  Many of my friend’s parents worked for the company.

I leave tomorrow for the open house that takes place at Willard on Saturday.  I will be spending time at the cemetery, and hanging out at the Romulus Historical Society building with Peggy Ellsworth, who is a former Willard employee and trustee of the historical society.  If you are attending the event, please track me down and introduce yourselves.  I hope to see you there.

Hadley Hall Bowling Alley

Posted in History, Sport by joncrispin on 02/07/2012

On Friday I got the chance to get into Hadley Hall on the site of the former Willard Psychiatric Center.  The Romulus Historical Society was setting up the annual display of Willard suitcases and I helped out a bit by moving some boxes around.  There were two areas of interest to me, and this post is about the first of those.  Hadley Hall was the recreation facility for the asylum and was built in 1892.  The building is dominated by a beautiful auditorium complete with a fully functional stage set-up. On the lower level is this bowling alley.  According to people I have spoken to, the alley was used by both staff and patients.

And I believe that the lanes were used up until the psych center closed in the mid 1990s.

The system for resetting the pins and returning the balls was mechanical only to a degree.  Someone back here behind the pins waited for the ball to arrive.  It would be returned via the wooden track and the pins would be reset (depending on a strike or spare).  The mechanical part of the operation involved the pins being dropped onto the lane once they were loaded onto the mechanism (see below).

When people were bowling, the place must have really been hopping.

It is so interesting to me that most of the components of the alley were still here and relatively intact.

The pins certainly look well used.

This is a very cool ball.

I am constantly reminded how fortunate I am to have access to these spaces.

Tomorrow I am back in Rotterdam shooting suitcases, but I hope to post part two of my visit to Hadley Hall later in the week.

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