Monday, February 28, 2011

Search on Ancestry.com finds relative at Spadra

So I was searching for the siblings of my grandfather Leighton Conrad in a fruitless search to find a piece of information on another relative. Anyway, I found Leighton's parents Leo and Daisy out in San Gabriel, California in 1930. I had originally thought that they'd come out from South Dakota perhaps to be near my grandfather, who I understood had come out to California when he was about 21 or so.

But, wait a minute, didn't they have another daughter Marcella who was only 8 in 1920 when they were all back in South Dakota? Okay, so putting the name Marcella Conrad into Ancestry.com search. Oh, here she is! 1930 Census she's in a place referred to as Pacific Colony, Spadra near Pomona in Los Angeles County. In the record she is listed as "inmate." Inmate!! Okay, maybe it's not her. But... how many Marcella Conrads were born in South Dakota in 1912? I'm guessing only one, this must be her. So I go searching through the census all the way to the beginning of the Pacific Colony/Spadra records and the first several people have titles that sound very hospital-like: nurses and doctors and such.

I look up this Pacific Colony a bit further and here's one of the descriptions I found: http://www.dds.ca.gov/Lanterman/History.cfm "Pacific Colony - Thinking "feeblemindedness" to be a menace, the California Legislature created Pacific Colony as a Southern California facility to detain the "feebleminded". People with developmental disabilities were "inmates", needing to be locked away from society forever because of their "insanity". The present location welcomed it's first 27 "inmates", on May 2, 1927."

Now, time for Kyle to theorize. My grandpa came to Southern California right about 1927. His parents also came here some time between 1920 and 1930. I know that in later years, Grandpa's brother Harlan also lived in San Marino. It's not a huge stretch to think that one by one, the family gravitated to this area because of Marcella. It's certainly suggestive of a family narrative that revolves around this relative who was "locked away".

4 comments:

ForenSource said...

She was known as Doris Marcella Conrad. She was admitted to the Sonoma State Home on 2/21/1925. She probably was transferred from there to Spadra...

ForenSource said...

She was known as Doris Marcella Conrad. She was admitted to the Sonoma State Home on 2/21/1925. She probably was transferred from there to Spadra...

Carrie Smith said...

Thank you for sharing this information! I just now found information about a relative in this hospital in 1930- which is how I found your blog! ( I googled the hospital name and your blog came up) :)

chinabirdie said...

I'm searching for information about Elsie (Minn) Fay, married to Hugh Fay. I found out just now that they had a son, Hugh Hamilton Fay. He died in 1961. In the 1940 census he was an inmate at Spadra. I wonder how long Spadra continued. And if as times changed he was relocated or sent somewhere else.Sad stories.