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Betty Grace Jackman

Privacy Level: Open (White)
Date: 1950 to 1955
Location: Vinita, Oklahomamap
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In 1909, the Oklahoma State Legislature established the Eastern Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane. The City of Vinita donated a 160 acre tract of land, orginally owned by S.S. Cobb, to the State of Oklahoma specifically for this purpose.

Construction of the facility's first two buildings finished in late 1912. On August 12, 1912, Dr. Felix Molton Adams was appointed by Governor Lee Croce as the hospital's superintendent, of which he would remain until his death, in spite of only being appointed for a four year term originally. Dr. Adams and Dr. Edwin Williams, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, were the only doctors when the hospital opened.

The hospital officially opened in 1913, with the first 300 patients, who were transferred from the Oklahoma Sanatorium in Norman, arriving on January 28, 1913. The transfer was made by a special train, which was unloaded in an area known as "Asylum Spur", and located roughly a mile south from the hospital. Most patients walked to the hospital from this area, though the women and some elderly men were transported by wagon. In 1914, the third building was completed, and 300 more patients were transferred from Norman.

Approximately two years after the first patients arrived, Dr. Williams returned home, and Dr. P.I. Hays became the Assistant Superintendent. Dr. Hays was one of the first adopters of controversial treatments such as luminal, sodium amy-tal, shock treatments, the use of malaria in treating syphilis, and atropine sulphate as a treatment for Parkinsonian syndrome.

Over the years, many more buildings and equipment were added: 1916 - wards for male and female patients 1922 - administration building 1924 - barn, implement sheds, greenhouse, new power house equipment

It's been said that, starting in the 1930's, patients of the hospital (along with many others) were sterilized, whether voluntarily or not. [1]

1930 - a fire station and sewage plant 1938 - a canning plant 1939 - central dining room, kitchen, a maximum restraint building for men 1949 - administration building 1953 - employees’ dormitory, which was named Adams Hall in honor of Dr. Adams

Most employees of the hospital were required to live on-site. Many lived in the basements of the patient wards. After World War II ended, two barracks buildings were added, which is where others lived.

In 1947, Eastern Oklahoma Hospital for the Insane was renamed Eastern State Hospital.

In 1951, the original dining room burned down. Around that time, Sam Seabolt was appointed as the director of the Recreation Department. Over the 33 years he was employed there, he would also serve as Director of Activity Services, as well as supervisor of the chaplain and adult education services.

In 1952 a medical services building was added. Many tuburculosis patients were also treated in the medical center. Dr. W.C. Reed, a local dentist who had served the hospital for 20 years, closed up his private practice and joined the medical clinic as its full-time dentist.

In 1953, an employee's dormitory, named Adams Hall in favor of Dr. Adams, was built. After Adams Hall was built, the lone house on the property, a two-story dubbed "The Farm House", which was originally the home of the Cobb family, was demolished.

By 1954, the hospital had acquired more land and built so many buildings, that they had the capacity to house up to 2,600 patients.

Dr. Adams passed away in 1954, having admitted 21,000 patients over his time at the hospital. After Dr. Adams' passing, Dr. Hays became the Superintendent.

In 1956, a new kitchen with separate dining rooms for men and women was built. The Department of Nursing was established, and Dorothy Hall, RN, was appointed the director. When she started, there were only 6 professional nurses and 400 other staff completing nursing duties for 72 units. Around this time, the hospital took part in trials of the tranquilizing drugs Thorazine and Serpasil.

In the 1950's, Rev. Moody Nicholdson became a full time chaplain at the hospital. Later on, the All Faiths Chapel was added, with Dr. A.D. Barrett serving as head chaplain.

Volunteers, who have always held an imporant role in the operation of the hospital, began to serve even more regularly in 1955, with the Bartlesville Gray Ladies visiting weekly. Other groups who have volunteered include the Bartlesville Gray Men and Red Cross volunteers from Miami, Vinita, Claremore, and Nowata.

The medical services building, which included a medical clinic, laboratory, dental clinic, pharmacy, and X-ray area, was dedicated as the Hays Treatment Center, in honor of Dr. Hays, in 1960. Outpatient services were added to provide care for patients after discharge.

In October of 1961, Dr. Hays resigned, with Dr. Wayne J. Boyd taking his place as Superintendent. In 1963, Dr. Ruth V. Annadown took Dr. Boyd's place, serving until July 1964, when Dr. B.F. Peterson, of Tennessee, took the role.

The hospital, along with others in the state, was desegregated in 1964, and patients from State Hospital for the Negro Insane, in Taft, Oklahoma, were transferred into both Eastern State Hospital and Central State Hospital in Norman, Oklahoma.

Over the years, the farm served an important role. Meat and milk was produced by swine, poultry, and dairy operations, and the gardens provided produce to be eaten fresh or canned. Both employees and patients worked the farm, and it was used as a therapy for many. The hospital also had prize-winning Holstein cows. The dairy was closed in 1968, with the rest of the farming operations fizzling out in the early 1970's.

In the 1970's, Eastern State Hospital likely had a hand in the over 3,000 forced sterilizations of Native American women across the state.[1]

The first floor of Adams Hall was remodeled to add administrative offices in 1971, and a dining room added to the east wing of the Food Services Building. Men and women started to eat meals together, which led to an improvement in personal appearance and hygiene in the patients.

After Dr. Peterson's death in 1972, Dr. A. Lawrence White took over as Superintendent. Dr. D.W. Shupe served in the role from 1973 to 1974, at which time Dr. Joe Tyler took over until 1978.

When Dr. Robert O'Toole was made Superintendent in October 1979, Eastern State Hospital was made the official treatment center for all inmates of the Department of Corrections who were in need of mental health services, as well as all of Oklahoma's court-ordered observations and evaluations.

In 1983, Dr. Mason W. Robison took over the administrative duties, and Building number 12 was renovated to serve as a maximum security facility.

By the end of February of 1984, the nursing department had grown to 64 Registered nurses, and 58 Licensed Practical Nurses, with 18 ward units and less than 400 patients.

Up until the late 1990's, the hospital was one of the county's largest employers.

In 2000, the hospital's cemetery, which has roughly 1,500 deceased patients in it, was vandalized and nearly all markers were destroyed. Only a couple of hundred remain, and most have been displaced from their original location. Cemetery records were not well-kept, so there's no way to know who is buried there, and where. Most families will find it impossible to determine if their family members are in the cemetery without death certificates, mortuary records, and/or a court order. The

Since 2003, the Department of Corrections has had ownership of the land, and in 2006, a new facility, the Oklahoma Forensic Center, was opened on the property. No patients have been cared for in the original location since 2008. The Oklahoma Forensics Center took charge of the cemetery, and visitors must be accompanied by state officials.

Wikipedia contributors. "Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 July 2018.

Wikipedia contributors. "Vinita, Oklahoma." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 24 July 2018.

Side Project: I've downloaded all of the (available) census records - that is, 1920, 1930, and 1940 - for the hospital. I will NOT be making public the patients' names or when they were there, BUT if anyone needs me to look for their family members, I'll gladly do so and verify if they're there and any information on them. I am, however, planning to compile a list of employees on the records for separate profiles.


  1. ↑ 1.0 1.1 Kaelber, Lutz. "Eugenics: Compulsory Sterilization in Oklahoma." University of Vermont. Accessed 24 July 2018.

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Hi there!

I'm looking for any information you may have in the 1930 or 1940 census . I'm looking for Tillie M Wright born around 1906. My grandma told me her Aunt Tillie was in an asylum but was not sure which one. Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much! A. McNary

posted by A. McNary

I'm looking for information about Ezra Edward Cole. I would like to know the dates he died and was buried, and when he was sent to the this Hospital, and why he was sen there.

Thanks so much for all you've done!!! Dan

posted by Daniel McGough
Do you have the actual census for those years? We are with the DHS Records Center and those records were never sent to us. We are trying to locate someone who was supposed to be there.
posted by Karen Moseley
In ref. to the vandalized Taft Cemetery, you say, " BUT if anyone needs me to look for their family members, I'll gladly do so and verify if they're there and any information on them." Could you kindly check for William S. Peters, who died in TAFT asylum about 1936 or 1937. He was not an inmate suffering from a gunshot wound to his head who was provided nursing care through the kindness of the then Super. H. C. McCormick. Both McCormick and Peters were African Americans from Boley. Thank you very much for any kind of help! Wayne Pounds, Prof. Emeritus, Aoyama Gakuin University, Tokyo.
posted by Wayne Pounds
It looks like my great aunt, Polly Minix Brown was a patient at the Eastern Oklahoma Hospital in 1930. The 1930 census shows her aged 28 and married. Husband is, presumably, Truett Archie Brown. The 1940 census shows Truett has remarried to Jessie Bevins and Polly is living with a cousin, Tim E Minix and Dona Minix. I would be interested in finding out any information about Polly Minix Brown. Her death date and what happened to her between 1930 and 1940.
I would like to know the dates my grandmother worked at Eastern State Hospital. Anyway I can find out please send me an email at [email address removed] thank you