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Stuhler, Linda S.

Linda S. Stuhler is the author of The Inmates of Willard 1870 to 1900,  A Genealogy Resource, and creator of the blog with the same title. She was instrumental in drafting bill S2514-2013, introduced into the New York State Senate in March 2011, and re-introduced in January 2013. If passed, this bill would allow the release of names, dates of death, and location of graves of all former patients of New York State Hospitals and Custodial Institutions, available to the public in a searchable, digital database, so that these forgotten ancestors may be honored and remembered with dignity. Lin lives in a suburb of Rochester, NY, with her husband of 33 years.

16 Replies to “Stuhler, Linda S.”

  1. Linda,

    Do you have any idea how the Mudges and the Putmans are connected? My mother’s maiden name is Putman.

    Jarvis Mudge Putman is such a way-out name. There must be some connection, but I at a loss to find it.

    I have an extensive tree on ancestry.com with over 70,000 individuals.

    Please help if you can. Thank you.

    Laura Putman Kane Potvin

  2. Linda: First let me say thank you for your work on behalf of people deemed “insane” and confined to an institutions such as Willard. Cudos who wrote to you wishing to honor their lives.
    In researching my husband’s family history, we discovered that his great grandmother died in Lebanon Hospital in 1905, according to her death certificate. The record further stated she suffered from “epilepsy-insanity” and was in the hospital for many months before passing…cause of death: “insanity.” John’s grandmother was the oldest of her mother’s three children and had always been told her mother had been scalded to death trying to lift a pot of boiling water from the stove. Grandma’s sister was only a few months old at the time. We are looking to find out what really happened to her. Was she formally institutionalized? Was there any truth to the original story? So many questions…
    Did the bill you initially introduced in the New York legislature in 2013 finally pass? If so how might we go about retrieving John’s great grandmother’s records from the State of New York?

  3. Linda,

    The asylum itself, the building and grounds, is currently owned by the 5-point Correctional Facility. However, I am wanting to know if there have been any efforts made to declare the asylum a National Historical Landmark. It is my belief that if the building was declared, efforts could be made to restore the building through volunteerism, open it once again for tours, and hopefully the money earned would fund the needs to resurrect the many poor nameless souls.
    Please write back.

  4. Hi Linda, Read your story and thank you for your time and tenacity in the cemetery project. I have a 1st cousin 3x removed, Daniel O’Donnell, who entered Binghamton in 1902 and died there in 1918. Death Certificate says he was buried in the Binghamton cemetery. I live in Montana but was wondering how I could help in this ongoing endeavor in some way. Thanks again for your time, Mike O’Donnell

  5. Hi Linda,

    I have a relative buried at Willard State Hospital. I don’t have her birth or death certificate. She was born in 1901. Family elders know that she was moved to Willard Hospital in 1935, and then she was forgotten. How very sad. I would love to honor her life in finding out where and when she was buried so I may pass this remembrance to my daughters. Grace Doyle is an important part of their ancestry, after all if it wasn’t for her they wouldn’t be here.
    Thank you for your dedication to releasing these records to the public.

    Sincerely,

    Jody Doyle

  6. In reviewing family genealogy I learned that my grandfathers brother was sent to The home for idiots after their mother died very young. I do have a photo of him that was taken while at the home and he does appear on the 1910 census for their but nothing after that. How can I find out what his fate was after that. Would he have been given up for adoption? If he passed away would he have a record of his burial anywhere. I am disheartened to see the cemetery in that shape….how do we help and how can we effect change.

  7. I was born in Buffalo in 1944 to a single mother and adopted shortly thereafter. In 2001, I wrote to the NYS Dept of Health for info on my birthparents. They sent me “non-identifying” information. I have been trying different avenues to get more info. One of the pieces of data said that my birthmother was treated for 2 years at a state hospital for mild schizophrenia. I am assuming it was at the Buffalo State Hospital in the early 1040’s. Does anyone on this website know how I can access the hospital records from this era? I have trying to find the email address of Linda Stuhler since she has been active in researching psychiatric hospitals. Anything you can do to help me would be greatly appreciated. Jim Merrell.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Unfortunately, we don’t have access to that kind of information. If you believe the hospital was in Buffalo, you may want to contact the library at SUNY Buffalo as a place to start–they may have someone there who has some ideas. Best of luck!

  8. Do you have any info on Kings Park State Hospital CEmetery? I’m trying to locate the remains of my Greataunt who died there. Any help will be greatly appreciated. Thank you, Joy

  9. Hi Linda,

    I stumbled onto your link through the Save-a-grave site on facebook. I visited what was left of Willard State Hospital and it’s cemetery a few years back. I took some very sad pictures of piles of markers (old cement blocks) with metal numbers on them lying in heaps in the woods at the cemetery. I read “The Lives They Left Behind” The suitcases book about Willard. I was especially interested in the part about the cemetery and how Lawrence Marek had tended it so lovingly. I could see from what was up in the cemetery, how he had at one time laid it out. The shed where he worked was just a pile of rubble. The whole place is very tragic and a reminder of how, even to this day, the people in these institutions were treated so poorly and forgotten. Cared little for in life and cared less for in death. And the records! Not able to be accessed by family members. How very sad. I photographed the cemetery at Craig Colony(the one in the woods as well) and posted all my pictures on findagrave. This place and it’s people are very close to my heart because I have epilepsy and may have at one time ended up in a place like that…..

    I’ve had many people write to me, asking how they could find out more about their relatives. I haven’t been able to help very much. It’s very frustrating. I wanted to thank you for your dedication in trying to get the State to finally release these records to the public….

    Thankyou again,

    Donna Bonning
    E. Pembroke, NY

    1. Hi Donna! I’m so sorry that I just saw your email today! I have a number of ways that one can find out if their loved one was buried in a New York State Hospital or Custodial Institution Cemetery. Please click on the following links. Thank you so much!! -Lin

      Names & Census Info: http://inmatesofwillard.com/names-census-info/

      Restoring Lost Names, Recapturing Lost Dignity by Dan Barry – The New York Times: http://inmatesofwillard.com/2014/11/28/restoring-lost-names-recapturing-lost-dignity-by-dan-barry-the-new-york-times/

  10. Hi Linda,

    I stumbled onto your link through the Save-a-grave site on facebook. I visited what was left of Willard State Hospital and it’s cemetery a few years back. I took some very sad pictures of piles of markers (old cement blocks) with metal numbers on them lying in heaps in the woods at the cemetery. I read “The Lives They Left Behind” The suitcases book about Willard. I was especially interested in the part about the cemetery and how Lawrence Marek had tended it so lovingly. I could see from what was up in the cemetery, how he had at one time laid it out. The shed where he worked was just a pile of rubble. The whole place is very tragic and a reminder of how, even to this day the people in these institutions were treated so poorly and forgotten. Cared little for in life and cared less for in death. And the records! Not able to be accessed by family members. How very sad. I photographed the cemetery at Craig Colony(the forgotten one in the woods as well) and posted all my pictures on findagrave. This place and it’s people are very close to my heart because I have epilepsy and may have at one time ended up in a place like that…..

    I’ve had many people write to me, asking how they could find out more about their relatives. I haven’t been able to help very much. It’s very frustrating. I wanted to thank you for your dedication in trying to get the State to finally release these records to the public….

    Thankyou again,

    Donna Bonning
    E. Pembroke, NY

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