Census Sunday – Oregon State Insane Asylum

One exciting thing about doing family history research is that you never know what you will find.

A couple of years ago I was looking for a Janne Nyberg, born on June 9, 1867 in Grevie, Sweden. When he was 21 years old in 1889 he left Sweden and went to America. His destination was San Jose in California.

Well, the last track I have of him is the passenger list, he arrived in New York on April 22 in 1889. Since most of the US census of 1890 is destroyed the next census to look for in the 1900. Much could have happened in 11 years, he could be married and have a family or he could even be dead.

Looking for him I found a John Newberg, born in Sweden, June 1865 which is a two years difference from the Janne I am looking for. Says he came to the US in 1888 which doesn’t match my Janne either. But he is born in Sweden and so is his parents.

Even if this person isn’t the one I am looking for, he still caught my attention. Because he is an inmate at Oregon State Insane Asylum. Almost 25 pages, with 50 names on each side it listed at this place, some employees of course but most of them are inmates. There are babies listed and 8-9 year old children, teen-agers and people over 90 years old as well. Male and females. They are from Sweden, Germany, Finland, Ireland, Russia, US and a lot of other countries.

John Newberg is found on line 34

So, this happens every now and then.. looking for something/someone finding something unexpected that gets all the attention.. and suddenly three hours passed, just like that.

It seems like Oregon State Insane Asylum later was called Oregon State Hospital. This was the where the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was shot. Today, there is a museum, Museum of Mental Health which I would love visit if I was in the area.

Library of Dust is a book by photographer David Maisel who took pictures of some of the thousands of urns containing ashes of the remains of inmates that were kept in the building since no relatived claimed it…

Esteemed photographer David Maisel has created a somber and beautiful series of images depicting canisters containing the cremated remains of the unclaimed dead from an Oregon psychiatric hospital. Dating back as far as the nineteenth century, these canisters have undergone chemical reactions, causing extravagant blooms of brilliant white, green, and blue corrosion, revealing unexpected beauty in the most unlikely of places. This stately volume is both a quietly astonishing body of fine art from a preeminent contemporary photographer, and an exceptionally poignant monument to the unknown deceased.

What happened to Janne Nyborg after he came to New York in 1889, I don’t know… yet.

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