Where to Find Lunacy and Orphans Records
Five years after Georgia lawmakers authorized an asylum for lunatic, idiots and epileptic Georgians, the facility opened. During those years, Milledgeville was an agricultural town of cotton producing farms and plantations. The first patient was Tillman B. of Bibb County who was incarcerated in December of 1842 but who died the next summer of "maniacal exhaustion." The facility housed 13,000 patients during its peak years until it was the largest insane asylum in the world. During its years of operation, doctors performed lobotomies, insulin shock and electroshock therapy. Children were confined inside of metal cages while adults were forced to take steam baths and cold showers, confined in straitjackets, and treated with douches or "nauseants." It was the social experimental product of its times. In 1959, a reporter for the the Atlanta Constitution investigated reports of a "snake pit." The discovery revealed that thousands of patients were served by only 48 doctors, none of whom were psychiatrists. He also reported that certain of the doctors had been hired off the mental wards. Yes, the patients were helping to run the asylum. The series rocked the state. Asylum staff were fired, and Mr. Nelson won a Pulitzer prize. The state, which had ignored decades of pleas from hospital superintendents, began to provide additional funding. However, during the mid-1960s when new psychiatric drugs allowed patients to move within less restrictive settings, the population began to decline. Governors Carl Sanders and Jimmy Carter both commenced emptying Central State, instead, sending mental patients to regional hospitals and community clinics, and people with developmental disabilities to small group homes. This did not work. Today, mental patients have become the scum of the earth, dosing on all manner of dangerous drugs and living on the streets in Georgia. Owing to the fact that the records are secret, the genealogist might begin a tedious search for information. I shall tell you where to search. Newspapers published information concerning orphans and lunatics taken off the street and placed in the institution as well as the news of the court hearing. Hearings were heard in the court and the notice appeared on the court calendar. Georgia Pioneers has scanned many old newspapers and added the information to a database. Members, click on Lunatics. While searching, peruse the neighborhood columns, society pages, and even front pages, as the article could appear anywhere throughout the newspaper.
Morgue drawers sealed with iron doors once held the corpses of patients in the basement of the Jones Building. Today the building is collapsing from the top down, and falling debris covers the morgue floor.
James Lester was a Revolutionary War Soldier who served in the Georgia Troops; also a Soldier of the War of 1812. He was listed among the early pioneers and settlers to Newberry County, South Carolina (Newberry County SC History and Genealogy by Summer, p. 4). "Early pioneers and settlers were Scotch-Irish, Irish, German, mingled with English and French in a smaller degree; southwest of the Town of Prosperity were such pioneers as Archibald Boyd from Pennsylvania, James Leter, Samuel McQueens, Nathan Hunter and others." Lester ultimately settled in Baldwin County and was buried in the Lester Famiy Cemetery 8 miles North of Milledgeville on Hwy 24 in a field on the left side of the road.
Baldwin County Marriages, Wills, Estates, Newspapers, Land Lotteries
Baldwin County was created in in 1803 by Creek cessions of June 1802. Three years later, the land was distributed by the 1805 Georgia Land Lottery. After the second lottery (1807),five new counties were created from parts of Baldwin and Wilkinson Counties: Morgan, Randolph (later Jasper), Jones, Putnam, Telfair. In 1806, 1807, 1856 and 1872 portions of Wilkinson County were added; in 1807 portions of Hancock and in 1807, 1812 and 1826 portions of Washington; with some of Jones County added in 1856. The court house burned in 1861. The county was named after Abraham Baldwin; Milledgeville was named after George's first governor, John Milledge.
Records Available to Members of Georgia Pioneers
Baldwin County Wills
- Will Book A 1806-1829 (abstracts)
- Wills 1829-1854 (abstracts)
Indexes to Probate Records
- Marriage Book A 1806-1820
- Marriages 1806-1851
- Marriages from newspapers 1885-1886
- Will Book B 1829-1868
- Will Book C 1868-1936
- Annual Returns, Book A 1813-1820
- Baldwin County Annual Returns, Book B 1820-1824
- Annual Returns, Book C 1824-1831
- Annual Returns, Book D 1831-1842
- Baldwin County Annual Returns, Book E 1839-1856
Memoirs of Georgia
- 1819 County Order Book; applicants of Widows of late war, orphans of Britton and Indians, Revolutionary War Officers and soldiers and persons who served in the Seminole War.
- 1820 Land Lottery (Those who were eligable to draw) (digital images)
- 1820 Tax Digest
- 1820 Baldwin County Land Lottery
Images of Newspapers
- Baldwin County Residents (Memoirs of Georgia)
List of Letters published July 13, 1828
- The Southern Recorder 1826 to 1829