Apologies from the mental health restoration team

Louise Johnston


By far the most chilling passage in the old family paraphernalia I’ve been digging through is this one, from a letter sent by Terrell State Hospital — formerly, the North Texas Lunatic Asylum — to inform my grandmother’s mom that her daughter, Louise, died from tuberculosis-related complications:

We are sorry this girl could not have been mentally restored. We assure you we cared for her as far as she would allow us to do, and we wanted you to know the circumstances concerning her death.


Upon receiving this letter, Mrs. Z.H. Johnston jotted down an outline for a thank-you note.

To which she ultimately received this response. (Larger version here.)

Of course, even with a funeral looming, someone had to buy the groceries.

And then there was the sanity-neutral obituary to be written.

Here’s a portrait of Miss Louise Johnston, the deceased, at some unspecified, earlier time.

Related link: The Lives They Left Behind, Suitcases from a State Hospital Attic. (Via.)


Newsletter Signup

Subscribe to my free newsletter, Ancestor Trouble.


You might want to subscribe to my free Substack newsletter, Ancestor Trouble, if the name makes intuitive sense to you.