|William Singleton Lee|
I had been told that he died "prior to 1900 in an insane asylum in California (in the Stockton area) other than that I knew nothing! At the time I didn't even know he had been in California, didn't know where he lived or what he was doing in California. Over the years, bit-by-bit I had pieced together information from various sources; census records, other relations working on the same line, City Directories from the Los Angeles area in the late 1880s....and so on. I knew that his son was a bridge builder and was in LA building bridges. I had found William, Nellie & various family members on records, voter registrations, and such in LA. But then I came across one that listed Nellie as a widow! So I knew that yes, William had died before 1894, and in California - but still had nothing further!
Then.......I came across the "Online Archive of California" website:
|Online Archive of California|
Stockton State Hospital Records
The actual records are not available online, but saw that the depository was the California State Archives - so I emailed them - everyone there was so friendly and helpful!! Within a week I had confirmation that they had found information and it was mailed to me at no charge!! So awesome! I was on pins & needles until that envelope arrived in the mail yesterday.
You can click on my Lee Page to see the information on William I received. (It's quite a ways down on the page.)
But it also aroused my curiosity - they listed his cause of death (and I noticed, the cause of several OTHER patient's deaths) as "Paralysis". I had to know more!?!? Had they done electo-shock therapy on him that fried his brain or something!?!? It just sounded suspicious....
In doing research online I came across a couple of helpful websites that gave me more information into what this "paralysis" might have meant in the late 1800's:
"General Paralysis of the Insane (GPI) was generally conceived of as a progressive deterioration of the whole mental and physical personality. Symptoms included an inability to pay attention, a ‘clouding’ of consciousness, poor short-term memory, tremulous voice, reflex disturbances, pupil and retinal anomalies, and diminished skin sensation. Patients were often recognisable by their striking ‘delusions of grandeur’....Most GPI patients were men, usually showing symptoms between age 35 and 45. They tended to be from urban areas, with many relating a history of intemperance and/or venereal disease....From the mid nineteenth-century, alienists had debated the link between GPI and syphilis – the latter as direct or predisposing cause – and modern historians of psychiatry are confident in explaining GPI as neurosyphilis (symptoms of which include seizures, sight disturbances, and changes in personality). This link rests, however, on accepting the accuracy of nineteenth-century doctor’s observations and their use of the term GPI." Author - Jennifer Wallis
Another website with some very interesting information on the topic is: