Mad House


By: Michael T. Keene

The year was 1869. Her name was Mary Rote. She arrived by steamboat at Ovid landing shackled at the wrists and transported by armed guards. She had spent ten years chained to a wall, often naked and suspended by her thumbs. Described as “deformed and demented”, she was to become Willard Insane Asylums first patient. Drawing upon confidential hospital archives, private patient letters and newspaper accounts of the day, we are taken on a remarkable journey inside a world of madness. What terrible secrets were uncovered at Rolling Hills? Who was the grave digger Lawrence and what was found buried behind the Rochester Insane Asylum? What happened to the beautiful Nellie Bly inside the Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell Island? What was the notorious device ‘The Utica Crib’ used for? Who still haunts Buffalo State Hospital to this day? Shocking tales of neglect, abuse and even torture are revealed here for the first time, but also remarkable stories of inspiration, hope and healing. Welcome to Mad-House.

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