Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Visit Us at the Ohio Genealogical Society Conference!

The American Pomeroy Historic Genealogical Association will have a booth in the vendor hall of the upcoming Ohio Genealogical Society Conference in Cleveland, Ohio, April 12 through the 14th, 2012.

If you are chasing Pomeroys, we want to meet you! Stop by our booth to learn more about our organization, including the Pomeroy Anvil Trail, and enjoy some Pomeroy camaraderie. We will be happy to check our databases for your family . Existing members and new members will receive a special APHGA badge ribbon!

We are also seeking Coe, Pomeroy, Junkins and Powers descendants with connections to Huron and Erie County, Ohio in conjunction with our Mary Ann Coe book project.

The 2012 Ohio Genealogical Society Conference will be held at the Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Center at 9801 Carnegie Ave., in Cleveland. Visit the OGS website for more information about this great event at

To learn more about other events that the APHGA will be attending, please visit our new Upcoming Events page on our public website at:

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Descendents of Lydia Spaulding: A Legacy of Mental Health Activism

by Kate Corbett Pollack

Part Two: Mary, Peter, and Dr. Frederick L. Goddard

Mary, the only surviving daughter of Lydia Spaulding and Ezra Howes, was an independent and ambitious woman, especially for her era. She attended Mount Holyoke Female Seminary under Mary Lyon, graduating in 1846, and went on to be a teacher. In 1849, she was a permanent assistant instructor at the Normal School in Westfield, Massachusetts. Between 1850 and 1860, Mary was teaching in Alabama and Philadelphia. By 1861, Mary Howes was aiding Dorothea Dix, caring for the sick and wounded during the Civil War. Dorothea was Superintendent of Nurses for the Union Army.

Dorothea Dix was one of the most important crusaders for the cause of mental health the world has ever known. Her tireless efforts to better the conditions of the mentally ill dominated her life. She persevered through her own poor health (like Lydia Spaulding, she may have had tuberculosis) to work on behalf of those who could not fight for themselves. Dorothea was, like Mary, a dedicated teacher. It was her work as a teacher that led her to a Massachusetts prison in 1841. There she saw how mentally ill people were kept naked and chained in unbearable conditions. They were beaten and whipped. She was told that the insane did not feel hot or cold, which she did not believe. In the 19th century, the prevailing attitude about the mentally ill was that they were “lower than brutes”. Articles from the 1860s about Josiah Spaulding speak of him in this way. People with illnesses like depression, anxiety, and what we now call schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, were in those days thought completely unable to think or feel. There was no reason to treat them humanely. If they acted up, they were abused. The mentally ill were kept in prisons, poor houses, or, like Josiah, caged in a family’s home.

Dorothea’s mother suffered from depression when she was growing up and, like Mary Howes, she gained an understanding of mental illness as a result of seeing a family member who had it. She knew that mentally ill people were not “raging maniacs”, but real human beings who were sick. She lobbied on behalf of the mentally ill for better conditions, and established mental hospitals that were more humane. She believed mental illness could be cured; a belief very few people shared at the time. She also believed that humane treatment was a necessity for them to heal.

Did Dorothea and Mary talk about their similar experiences with the mentally ill? That remains to be seen. Around 1865, Mary returned to Buckland for a spell, and married Peter Goddard, who had been her neighbor growing up. She was 42; he was 29. Peter had been married previously to Climera Mallory, who sadly died young, in 1864. Peter was left with an infant son, Frederick. Mary Howes became his step-mother.

The Goddards moved to Brooklyn in 1880, where Peter was a cotton merchant. Mary and Peter were members of Plymouth Church in Brooklyn. Reverend Henry Ward Beecher was the minister; brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, the women’s rights activist. Peter and Mary adopted a child from Prussia, August Goddard. Their son Frederick attended Long Island Medical College, graduating in 1887, and also studied in Germany and England. The Goddard family then moved to Washington State, where Peter worked as a plumber and Dr. Frederick L. Goddard took a position at the Western Washington State Asylum for the Insane as superintendent in 1897. There he enacted serious reforms, improving the buildings and grounds, planting fruit trees, hiring new staff and releasing patients from straitjackets and solitary confinement. He also sent many patients home to their families. (Patients had been committed to the insane asylum for things like menopause, domestic trouble, “disappointed affection”, “brooding over trouble”, “menstrual and uterine disorders”, old age and masturbation).

Around this time, there was no care for the mentally ill in Alaska. They were being sent to Washington. Alaska governor John Brady wanted to start an institution for the mentally ill there and asked Dr. Goddard if he would help. Alaska appealed to doctors because of its gold and mining industries. Dr. Goddard invested in a mining company in Nizina in the St. Elias mountains and lived in the area for two years. He was able to purchase a medical practice and became the doctor for Treadwell Mine, the largest hard rock mine in the state. By this time, Dr. Goddard had married Scotland-born Mary Clunas (in 1890), and had two children: Erwin Mallory (1891) and Dorothy (1899). He moved his family to the town of Juneau, and his parents, Mary and Peter, joined him.

In 1905 Dr. Goddard, along with his partner, Dr. E.J. Brooks, purchased a deed to the Sitka Hot Springs on Baranof Island, and 800 acres of land surrounding it. The doctor and his family would work together to create a therapeutic sanitarium. Peter’s skills as a plumber must have been helpful in developing the center. In 1908, a hotel was established by the Goddard family called the Alaska Sanitarium Company, later known as the Goddard Hotel, or Goddard Hot Springs. Dr. Goddard’s goal was to make the hot springs available as a therapeutic asylum for the mentally ill in Alaska, who were being kept in jails, in the type of terrible conditions Dorothea Dix fought against in the 1850s. Dr. Goddard was not against restraints, (having invented his own, more humane system of restraining a patient using straps instead of chains), and realized that people could be dangerous. He also knew another way of treatment was possible. He hoped that his hot springs would be the official state asylum for the insane in Alaska, replacing the archaic institutions and jails that were the current model in the rest of the country.

Sadly, Dr. Goddard was unable to fight the old-fashioned laws regarding the treatment of the mentally ill in Alaska, and the hot springs became a resort that was enjoyed by people who could afford it; other doctors like Frederick, and vacationers. Treatment of the mentally ill continued to be awful, but Dr. Goddard’s Hot Springs served as an inspiration and reminder that humane treatment of the mentally ill was a possibility. Even in 1950 in Alaska (and many other areas), insane people were still confined to jails and treated like criminals. An editorial in the Daily Sitka Sentinel from 1950 states:

[Dr. Goddard] “believed the theraputic [sic] value of the waters was such that a great number of the mentally disturbed could be relieved. His venture was unsuccessful because of the archaic laws dealing with the insane in the territory. The last three commissioners in Sitka have objected strenuously to the method by which the insane, senile and feeble minded persons have had to be brought before their court and adjudged insane; then committed to jail and transported to the states in the same manner as a common criminal when they are merely mentally ill. It is time for the whole question of the insane to be reviewed.”

Mary Howes and Peter Goddard remained in Sitka until their deaths: Mary in 1910 and Peter in 1912. Dr. Frederick died in 1932 of a cerebral hemorrhage.

Reform is extremely slow. Lois Warriner was the first person to treat caged Josiah Spaulding with care and respect, starting in 1837. In turn, her step-daughter, Mary Howes, learned to care about the mentally ill and see them as human beings in a time period when most people did not. Mary in turn, with her husband, raised a child with a keen awareness of the treatment of the mentally ill. She also worked with one of the most important human rights crusaders in history; Dorothea Dix, who helped enact change in legislation. Dr. Frederick Goddard, the next generation, enacted his own reform and change in improving conditions in Washington State for the mentally ill in the late 1800s. The ultimate change Dr. Goddard wanted to see was the therapeutic treatment of mentally ill people in a beautiful, pristine wilderness hot springs - a far cry from the cages and chains that had so long been their lot. He wanted this for all mentally ill people, not just those who could afford it. Even today these conditions do not exist, and patients are still kept in archaic circumstances in many areas of the United States and the world. There are more mentally ill people in United States prisons than there are being cared for in mental hospitals. Part of this is due to an extreme lack of available treatment centers for people who are severally mentally ill. Judges today still send people to prison, knowing that it may be the only way they will receive any psychiatric care. However, they know that this is not desirable. reports:

Fewer than 55,000 Americans currently receive treatment in psychiatric hospitals. Meanwhile, almost 10 times that number -- nearly 500,000 -- mentally ill men and women are serving time in U.S. jails and prisons…because these inmates have difficulty following prison rules, a disproportionate number are placed in solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement cells today often house mentally ill people like Josiah Spaulding, and the chains and inhumane treatment that Dr. Frederick Goddard and his family worked to eliminate still exist. Among the populace even in the United States, mental illness is still very often thought of as a moral failing, an embarrassment, a condition tainted by judgment and taboo, and not a medical condition to be treated like any other. Mary Howes turned what was a source of shame and embarrassment for her family in Buckland into an inspiration for better treatment and understanding of the mentally ill, proving that courage and compassion prevail throughout history, and it is what you will be remembered for. Mary was not famous, she worked behind the scenes. Nevertheless, Lydia Spaulding’s daughter has left a lasting legacy. It is up to us to continue it.

Many Thanks to APHGA researcher Pat Whipple for her contribution to this article.


“The Late Mrs. Mary Goddard”, (Mortuary Notice). Daily Alaska Dispatch, May 7, 1910. Juneau, Juneau County, Alaska

“P.M. Goddard Dead”. The Daily Alaska Dispatch, Juneau, Alaska, Tuesday, December 17, 1912, p.2, col. 4.

Daily Sitka Sentinel, Sitka, Alaska, Tues. Apr. 4, 1950, p. 2, col. 1 and 2.

“Trip to Goddard a Cruise into History”, Daily Sitka Sentinel, Sitka, Alaska, Friday April 1, 2005 p. 13.

“Sitka Names & Places” Daily Sitka Sentinel, Sitka, Alaska, Friday, September 30, 2005, page 13.

“Normal Schools” Salem Register, Salem, Mass., October 11, 1849.

One Hundred and First Annual Report of the Regents of the University of the State of New York. Transmitted to Legislature January, 1888. The Troy Press Co., Printers. 1888. P. 458.

“Dorothea Lynde Dix: Superintendent of Nurses for the Union Army”.

Ezra Howes household, 1850 U.S. census, Buckland, Franklin County, Massachusetts, p. 418 (penned), line 32, dwelling 837, family 867; National Archives microfilm publication M432_317. Massachusetts Marriages, 1841-1915. Online [].

First Biennial Report of the State Board of Audit and Control of Washington for the Two Years Ending September 30, 1898. Olympia, Washington. Gwin Hicks, State Printer. 1898.

Marjorie Clunas household, 1910 U.S. census, Sanitarium (Sitka Hot Springs), Division 1, Sitka County, Alaska Territory, Sheet 15A, line 1; National Archives microfilm publication T624_1748.

New York. Kings County. Brooklyn. 1880 U.S. census. Microfilm publication roll 855. Washington, D.C.: National Archives

PBS Frontline: The New Asylums:

Quinquennial Catalogue of Officers and Students of Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, Mass. 1837-1895. Mount Holyoke College, 1895. P. 35-6.


[1] PBS Frontline: The New Asylums:

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Descendents of Lydia Spaulding: A Legacy of Mental Health Activism

Part One: Lydia Spaulding of Buckland

By Kate Corbett Pollack

Lydia Spaulding, the youngest of the Spaulding sisters, may not have been as prolific a letter-writer as her siblings, but she is a strong presence in the Spaulding letters collection of the APHGA. She undoubtedly was a part of their continuing correspondence, and we do have letters from her, if only a few. She is mentioned frequently in the letters of her sisters, and occasionally a line appears where Lydia is instructing a family member to write something on her behalf. The sisters kept each other apprised of Lydia’s life and health, and she certainly read the letters sent to Buckland, Mass. by her older sister Mary from Southampton. Lydia, Deborah and Nancy Spaulding remained in the Buckland area after Mary left, following her 1810 marriage to Isaac Pomeroy. Isaac’s sister, Deborah Pomeroy Trowbridge, moved from Southampton to Buckland, and was also close with the family. (See December 14th’s APHGA blog post The Spaulding Sisters for background information.) In the early 1800s, letters were a celebrated event, and often the only source of material about a relative who lived in another town. Unless told to keep something a secret, the sisters would share letters amongst themselves. We have already seen from previous articles on this family how connected they were.

Lydia is mentioned often enough in the letters to gain a picture, albeit small, of her life. Otherwise, today we would know very little about her. Lydia was born in 1797, in Buckland, Franklin County, Massachusetts, the youngest daughter of Reverend Josiah Spaulding and Mary Williams. On May 8, 1822, she was married to Ezra Howes when she was 25, and he 26. Ezra was a farmer, landowner, and later a U.S. representative. Lydia seems to have been well-loved by her family and Ezra. The year after her marriage, Lydia’s parents died within months of each other; Mary Williams dying on February 11, and Reverend Spaulding on May 8th, both in 1823. Lydia was pregnant with her first child at the time of her fathers’ death. Her daughter, Mary W. Howes, would be born on November 30, 1823. Another significant development in Lydia’s life occurred this year as well: her brother Josiah, thought to be insane and kept in a cage in her parents’ home for the last 11 years, would be transferred to Lydia’s house and care. For the next 13 years, Lydia would care for him the best she could, but her short life was marred by tragedy and ill health.

Lydia’s second daughter, Lydia S., named for her mother, was born August 5, 1825. Nancy Spaulding Coleman writes to her sister, Mary Spaulding Pomeroy on February 6, 1826:

I think that Sister Lydia health is better than it was last winter they have a fine babe and the family are all well.

Sadly, the child would only live to be 7 years old. Family letters indicate that Lydia was in ill health for many years. Not all of the letters are dated, so it is difficult to say when Lydia’s health began to decline. A letter that is possibly from 1814, from Deborah Spaulding to Mary Spaulding Pomeroy says regarding Lydia:

You wanted to know about L health she has not come down yet, she is as well as We could expect her health is not sound and probably never will be.

If 1814 is an accurate year for this letter, Lydia would have been 17 at the time. It seems that she had some type of recurring illness that affected her lungs; possibly tuberculosis. The letters indicate that her illness returned every few years. By 1828, Lydia is 31 and her daughters are 3 and 5. Deborah Spaulding (the Spaulding sister who did not marry) writes to Mary Spaulding Pomeroy in Southampton on August 28th, 1828, to tell her of Lydia’s health [punctuation added]:

She sits up to eat her meal tho she has not streangth to walk a step hardly. Her cough is very troublesome. There is one thing for which we had ought to be very grateful for-her mind I believe is in a happy state; she appears very tranquil…Lydia says she should like to have you come to see her this fall for she will not probably ever see you if you do not.

Deborah adds a line for Mary’s 14-year-old daughter, Mary Ann, as she must have been directed to by her sister:

Maryann your Aunt Lydia says you must not let the trifling things of time take up your mind so as not to be prepared for death, for a sick bed is no place for repentance.

Clearly Lydia came very close to death that August, but she lived another eight years. Three days before Lydia’s death in 1836, Deborah Pomeroy Trowbridge writes to her sister-in-law, Mary Spaulding Pomeroy on July 26:

Dear Sister, Open moments I take to write you a line respecting your sister Howes as she (if living) is very low not able to speak loud on Sabbath last. I have not heard from her since, they then thought it would not surprize them if she did not live out the day…but they have seen her as low before.

Deborah Pomeroy Trowbridge saw the Spaulding sisters in church (when she was able to - bad roads and her own poor health often prevented it), and that is where she got her information on how they were doing. She must have had a feeling that Lydia was going to die soon, and thought she should write to Mary to tell her. This time Lydia would not recover. She was 39 years old. On August 7, 1836, Deborah Spaulding writes to her sister, Mary:

Dear Sister, It is with a trembling hand and an ailing heart that I now address you - and I can hardly write it. Lydia is no more on earth.

Lydia’s surviving daughter, Mary W. Howes, was 13 when her mother died. Letters indicate that Lydia was unwell throughout Mary’s life, and the little girl must have seen her mother struggle with health quite a bit. When things got very bad, Mary went to stay with her Aunt Deborah. During Lydia’s last thirteen years of life, and Mary’s first, Lydia was taking care of her caged brother, Josiah, who had been placed under her care following the death of their parents.

Josiah suffered from some kind of mental illness. In the early 1800s, there was not much psychiatric medicine available, and nothing of the sort in Buckland. It is difficult to say exactly what was truly wrong with him. Lydia was about ten years old when Josiah was first put in a cage by their father, and sources indicate that she was afraid of him. It is unclear if this is accurate. Since Lydia married Ezra Howes, who had wealth and influence, their house was thought the best place for Josiah and his cage to go after Reverend Spaulding’s death. Ezra was able to make arrangements with the town of Buckland to avoid paying certain taxes in exchange for keeping Josiah in his home. In the early 1800s, a disabled or impoverished person would be cared for in the homes of local citizens, who in return would be paid by the town. This often meant that the person was shuffled from one place to the next, as there was no permanent home available.

A year after Lydia’s death, Ezra remarried. He was very distraught when she died, but needed someone to help raise Mary and care for Josiah. Lois Warriner, spoken of in her family’s genealogy books as a warm, caring woman, would become Ezra’s second wife. Lois was also known to be an intelligent person, and was from a respected family.

Mary W. Howes spent her entire childhood and adolescence growing up with her Uncle being kept in a cage in her family home. She was born the year he arrived, and he was still living there when she left to go to college. Her new step-mother was not afraid of Uncle Josiah. She was reportedly very kind to him, and the closest thing to a friend he had. Lois looked after Josiah until her death in 1864. (Ezra died in 1855). Josiah was then brought to the poorhouse to live out his remaining years, still in the cage. He would die in 1867, at 81 years of age. (For more on Josiah, see APGHA November blog post Only a Being of Senseless Existence). It seems that Lois taught her step-daughter Mary not to be afraid of her Uncle, and to care about and respect people like him.

Mary Howes took a very different life path than her aunts, her cousins and her mother, and was able to escape the cycle of tragic lives and early deaths that befell most of them. Determined to escape the destiny of her women relatives, Mary forged ahead with her education, attending Mt. Holyoke seminary. The horror and despair of her early life fueled Mary to great heights of accomplishment and inspired a lasting legacy of activism, which she passed down to her own children. Mary W. Howes ended up very far from Buckland, indeed.