Monday, October 02, 2006

Records for Eloise (Wayne County, Michigan)

In my previous post I mentioned Eloise. Eloise was a complex of about 75 buildings that served the Wayne County (Detroit) poor and indigent in need of medical treatment. For the most part, Eloise is closed now (except for one office building) but it has a long and interesting history.

I was looking for records on a cousin of mine who was a resident of Eloise according to the 1930 U.S. Census. I wondered what she'd been hospitalized for (she was only 23 years old at the time) and how long she stayed there. I've found no records for her after this listing on the 1930 census so I have no idea what ever became of her. Did she die there? Is she buried there? (Over 7,000 people are buried in the Eloise cemetery.) Was she discharged and went on to marry and change her name? Who knows?

I started on the internet, looking for information on Eloise residents. I came up with nothing solid. There are several web sites about Eloise but none of them mention patient or cemetery records. I did find one recent Detroit News article that was of interest... Wayne County's private paper chase
Wayne County public records, including health and mental health records, have become hostages in a financial dispute between the county and the private company that stores the records...

...The dispute has caused delays for people seeking records such as patient records from the closed Eloise (Wayne County General) Hospital, mental health treatment records, tuberculosis test records and immunization records. The records range from about 5 years old to about 100 years old, Niemiec said.
But even that article didn't describe how one would go about requesting access to records.

Eloise is located in the city of Westland, Michigan so I tried a search for that and came up a web page that mentioned that the Westland Historical Commission had records for Eloise residents but gave no specific information about the records. But that's OK, at least it was a starting point. So I waited until Saturday (the archives are only open on Saturdays) and went in search of the Westland Historical Museum where the archives are located. Except that the museum isn't where the web site said it would be. Fortunately I had written down the phone number and was able to call from my cell phone. It turns out that the published address for the museum is actually the City of Westland complex of offices (police, fire, court, etc.). The museum is located a short distance away on another road altogether.

At the archive office, I was welcomed by a couple of wonderfully helpful ladies who knew right off what I was looking for. They get 2-3 phone calls a week from people who are looking for Eloise records. Jo Johnson (member of the Westland Historical Commission and the Friends of Eloise group) provided a wealth of information about Eloise and what records were and were not available. What was available at the Westland Historical Commission archives was binders full of indexes... indexes of one-time Eloise residents, indexes of who was buried in the cemetery, indexes of persons treated for TB or mental illness, and indexes of employees. What was not available was actual medical records or a complete list of every person who ever had reason to be treated or resided at Eloise. The indexes have some "holes" in them, meaning there are spans of time with no records, but they do have thousands of names in them. And if you have a family member who resided at Eloise this is definitely the place to start looking for information.

I mentioned to Jo that it would be helpful to have a compilation of the Eloise indexes on the internet so that others could find this resource and I offered to put the information on my web site. She offered to compile a list of the indexes for me but cautioned that it would take her some time to put it all together. I told her I would put up a page on the subject and when she got her list put together I'd add the information to the web site. So I now have a topic page on Eloise records at PolishAncestry.com/eloiserecords.htm. On the topic page is some basic information about Eloise, a list of links to other web sites with information about Eloise, a link to the collection of photos (on Flickr) that I took of the Westland Historical Museum and archives, some basic information about the Eloise cemetery and the Friends of Eloise group, and contact information. As soon as the compilation of indexes is available it will be added too.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find out much about my cousin. I was able to determine that she was not buried in the cemetery, and was not treated for TB while she was there. I'm going to assume that she was only there for a short time since we were not able to find her on any indexes either before or after the 1930 census. It's not much, but it's something.


16 comments:

  1. I am looking for records of my mother who was a resident of Eloise from about 1935 or 36. I do not know how long she was there. I never new her and I am trying to find out information about her. I am reading Annie's Ghosts and it mentions this organization as a source of info on Eloise. Thank you for this site, it's a start.

    Joan Todd

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  2. I believe I was born there in 1970. I was adopted about a year later or so. Is there a way I can get records? I tried to email someone, but the email was returned. Is there a way i can find out my mother's name? I know my birthname(first only) and date of birth that is about it.

    Any help will be greatly appreciated. My email is mfth70@gmail.com my

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  3. I want to thank the person who pointed me in the direction of this blog without stating their name in case she does not want to have her name thrown out on the web.

    I am looking for my biological mother. I was born on 8-20-1970 on the Eloise grounds. My birth certificate reads Westland(Eloise). I was given up for adoption at about 1 1/2 years old. That is about all the information I have. If someone can further help me with a place to search. I am also becoming fascinated with the history of the city and with the hospital. I plan on getting Annie Ghost soon, but also plan on doing some research. I think I will visit there soon, maybe if someone can also point me to some points of interest that are related to my search.

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  4. Michael, I was born at Eloise later in 1971 and also adopted out, approximately the same time as you (you being a year and a half and I being a couple months). I knew nothing about my biological parents other than where I was born and the adoption agency that put me with my parents. Running into dead ends with the records from Eloise, I contacted the adoption agency directly some years back. They sent me paperwork to fill out and return giving them as much information as I knew. Within weeks I heard back from them with the location of my biological mother and grandmother. The story from there could be a "movie of the week", but a happy one at that. I suggest contacting the agency that processed your adoption. It'll be your most solid starting point. Good luck to you my Eloise friend.

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  5. Michael, I was born at Eloise later in 1971 and also adopted out, approximately the same time as you (you being a year and a half and I being a couple months). I knew nothing about my biological parents other than where I was born and the adoption agency that put me with my parents. Running into dead ends with the records from Eloise, I contacted the adoption agency directly some years back. They sent me paperwork to fill out and return giving them as much information as I knew. Within weeks I heard back from them with the location of my biological mother and grandmother. The story from there could be a "movie of the week", but a happy one at that. I suggest contacting the agency that processed your adoption. It'll be your most solid starting point. Good luck to you my Eloise friend.

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  6. My husband was born 6-29-65 at Eloise, he is looking for his mom who he has not seen every since he was a little boy. He later been in and out of foster homes until he was 9 yrs old and adopted by the Murray family who later past on a yr or 2 ago. All I know is that he has a brother about a yr. or 2 older than him and his name is Vernon Smith and she also had a set of twins. My husband does not remember her name but she was in her late teens when he was born at Eloise. The adoption paper he can't get a hold to them and I need some help to try and find her. Please help.

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  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  8. Thank you Jasia for the information

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  9. I was born in Wayne County General Hospital, Eloise, Mi, November, 24, 1977.... at the age of 6 weeks my father took to Alabama where I grew up. I was also adopted, but not until age 8. I have been trying to find out any kind of medical, or basically any of my biological history and would love some help. If anyone could point me in the right direction I would be very greatful! I do have some information pertaining to my birth name and my biological parents... my email address is emayo58@gmail.com. Any kind of help would be appreciated!

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  10. I can't help any of you with finding records of your relatives. I do not have access to the records. Your best bet is to contact the Westland Historical Park. They have indexes of records there. Here is a link to their web page. There is a phone number listed where you can speak with someone.
    cityofwestland.com/historicalcommission

    Good luck!

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  11. Try going to the Wayne county court and opening an estate under the name of the person you are seeking medical records on, only temporarily, and close the estate when you're done. Has anyone tried that? That worked for Steve Luxenberg, the author of Annie's Ghost. carmenborg@sbcglobal.net

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  12. I also was born in Eloise (Westland) October 6, 1974. I wasn't adopted but my mother was unmarried when I was born. I was told that at the time I was born, unmarried mothers gave birth at Wayne County General Hospital. The only problem I have found is when I try to get my birth certificate I have to jump through all sorts of hoops to order it because there is no longer a Health Department in Eloise. I was told all records were moved to Lansing. I hope this helps anyone looking for birth records from Eloise.

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  13. We are planning an Eloise documentary for 2013, If you have any artifacts, pictures, info, stories, ***any papers/documents marked "Eloise" or from Eloise***, etc. please shoot us an email at: eloise.michigan@facebook.com

    eloisemichigan.com Is a new website dedicated to Eloise History, and should be updating soon!

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  14. There is a genealogical website called Ancestry.com and they have the 1940 Federal Census online(http://www.ancestry.com/)that shows the names of the patients who were at Eloise Hospital in 1940.

    You can use Ancestry.com at no cost at most local libraries.

    To find the hospital census records type in the name Rubin Tink for example who was born 1859 and choose census location Nankin Township, Wayne County, Michigan, USA.

    Once you find Rubin Tink on the census records you can move back and forth between the census records using the back and forth buttons provided by the website just above the census records to the right.

    There are several census records with names. Here below is one census record showing Rubin Tink with other patients.

    1940 United States Federal Census about Ruben Tink
    Name: Ruben Tink
    Age: 81
    Estimated Birth Year: abt 1859
    Gender: Male
    Race: White
    Birthplace: Michigan
    Marital Status: Widowed
    Relation to Head of House: Inmate
    Home in 1940: Nankin, Wayne, Michigan View Map
    Street: Michigan Avenue
    House Number: 30763
    Inferred Residence in 1935: Nankin, Wayne, Michigan
    Residence in 1935: Same Institution
    Sheet Number: 58B
    Institution: Eloise Hospital
    Attended School or College: No
    Hours Worked Week Prior to Census: 3
    Neighbors: View others on page

    Household Members: Name and Age

    Aca Tamick 64
    John Tanks 64
    Frank P Tantanella 48
    Sophia Taranowicz 40
    Jean S Tardiff 33
    Willie Targowski 75
    Theodore Tarwisk 37
    Casmire Tarnowski 68
    Stanlaw Tarraimez 68
    Steve Tarus 59
    Frank Tate 46
    William Tate 66
    Tony Tatunckik 47
    John Tatus 30
    Charles Taylor 35
    George Taylor 61
    Ethel Taylor 54
    James Taylor 56
    Louis Taylor 57
    Marie Taylor 47
    Richard Taylor 76
    Roland Taylor 38
    Samuel Taylor 74
    Stanley Schorzewski 51
    John Tebroski 40
    Lewis B Teets 55
    Charles Telgenhof 56
    Charles G Temple 72
    Frank Temple 70
    Gertrude Tenny 80
    Edward Terentowicz 75
    George W Terra 70
    Edward Terrell 58
    Doe Terry 15
    August Tessmer 70
    Louis Thaar 66
    Henry Thead 66
    Herman Thiel 58
    Alice Thomas 66
    Arthur Thomas 47
    Bell Thomas 80
    L Thomas 52
    Henry Thomas 69
    James Thomas 76
    James C Thomas 60
    Jesse E Thomas 64
    John Thomas 58
    Joseph F Thomas 53
    Leroy Thomas 31
    Patson Thomas 41
    Quincy Thomas 62
    Joseph Thomas 54
    Martin Thompson 41
    Albert Thompson 51
    Dora Thompson 71
    Charles Thompson 47
    Ernest Thompson 32
    Fredrick Thompson 29
    George Thompson 70
    James Thompson 52
    James A Thompson 45
    John Thompson 65
    John E Thompson 65
    Robert Thompson 76
    William Thompson 55
    William B Thompson 47
    Francis Thomwaite 28
    Andrew Thorpe 76
    Clifford Thorpe 56
    Jacob Tyssen 6
    George H Tifft 45
    Paul Tigan 60
    Jack Tighe 53
    Alfred Tilman 64
    Thomas Tellman 62
    Lowell Tilton 46
    Thomas Timma 57
    Eddie Timmins 34
    Clara A Timmins 76
    Henry Tingstad 71
    Ruben Tink 81
    Freeman Tinsley 29
    Alfred Tipping 53
    Kenneth H Titus 16
    James Tobin 57
    Joe Toby 77
    John Todd 57
    Steve Todorff 41
    Peter Todorov 71
    George Todosen 62
    Joseph Tokacs 66
    Ignatz Tokaizewski 50
    Charles Tolen 72
    James Toliner 71
    William Tolly 43
    Tony Tollis 52
    Annie Tolliver 76
    Walter Tolmie 61
    Anthony Tomaszewski 54
    George Tomber 57

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  15. I find it so sad how much has been lost, and how much we will never know about ourselves and our relatives.

    It appears that the records are being housed by Iron Mountain record storage and management. I wonder if anyone has been able to obtain records there by going through the court?

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  16. JD - I just inquired a couple weeks ago at the Burton Historical Collection (Detroit Main Library) about Eloise records. The very helpful people there did mention that the records had mainly been sent up North to a storage place (I'm sure they meant this Iron Mountain Storage), but also said that (of course) Wayne County stopped paying their storage bill.
    Would love to know if anyone else has had luck contacting Iron Mountain.... The Burton Collection does have SOME of the death records of patients at Eloise though!!

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