Displaying items by tag: Norristown StateHos

You have probably heard us say this many times, but we really do find some of the most interesting stories when we are looking for something else entirely! This time I was looking for Elkton marriage announcements and stumbled onto this story about another marriage.

June 5 1930

June 5, 1930, Times Herald

Mary McClellan, a patient at Norristown State Hospital, went missing on June 2, 1930. She was found a few days later in Philadelphia with a former hospital attendant, William Hamel.

June 6 1930 follow up

June 6, 1930, Times Herald

It turns out William helped Mary escape. After switching out of hospital clothes, Mary met William on hospital grounds where he sneaked her out using a car he had leased in Norristown. According to the Times Herald, the pair drove right through the main gates of the hospital.

June 13 1930 pag 19

June 13, 1930, Times Herald

After stopping at William's home at 229 North Eleventh Street, Philadelphia, they then drove to Camden to get married. However, since they were not residents of New Jersey, they were sent back to Pennsylvania. They had better luck in Media, Delaware County, where they were able to obtain a marriage license. 

Their marriage only lasted for two days. William was arrested and taken to the county jail in Norristown. Mary was taken back to Norristown State Hospital. According to the Times Herald, authorities annulled the marriage. William ended up paying a $10 fine and spent a month in jail.

I did a little digging to try to learn more about Mary. I located a Mary McClellan in the 1920 and 1930 U.S. Census. In both censuses she was listed as being a patient at Norristown State Hospital. If I have the right Mary, she was born around 1899, so she would have been about 31 years old in 1930. Neither censuses lists the reason for her being at the hospital nor do they list any of Mary's family members.

It is important to note, while older documents such as the above newspapers used phrases like "Lunatic" and "Insane" to describe patients at State Hospitals, these terms are no longer used by the health care industry. As doctors learn more about mental illnesses, less derogatory words have been used to better explain each patient's unique circumstance.


Published in Found in Collection