Thursday, September 3, 2009

Nebraska Regional Center Cemetery Records

After much litigation, the Hastings Regional Center in Adams Co., Nebraska has released photocopies of the cemetery records to the Nebraska State Historical Society and the Adams County Nebraska Historical Society.

The cemetery records also include corresponding plot maps for individuals buried in the Center Cemetery. From 1909 to 1959 there were approximately 751 patients buried there. A second listing abstracted from the medical ledger books between 1889 and 1918 for 399 patients was also provided. Both of these lists are in a PDF (downloadable/searchable) file at the Nebraska State Historical Society web site.

In 1887 the Nebraska legislature appropriated $75,000 for a "state asylum for the incurably insane" at Hastings, provided the city donate 160 acres of land. The city purchased the land one mile west of the city limits and eventually it was turned into 630 acres. The original building was a three story brick building with a tall central tower. Additions were completed through the years. The first patients were received on 1 August 1889. Forty-four were transferred from the "State Lunatic Asylum" in Lincoln, Nebraska. Through the years thousands of patients were received.

The name of the center changed through the years. In 1895 it was renamed Asylum for the Chronic Insane. In 1905 it was named Nebraska State Hospital and in 1915 to Ingleside Hospital for the Insane and eventually to Hastings State Hospital. The current name change occurred in 1971.

Tragically not everybody who was admitted was incurably or chronically insane. They may have suffered from hereditary disorders, change of life, stress, financial problems or domestic issues. It is sad to think that hundreds were buried there and for decades their place of burial was unknown. I hope that family will recognize their name and find them at last.


  1. My l grandmother was admitted to the State Hospital in Ingleside, NE believe in 1936 and died there in 1939 at the age of 51. She is buried in Edison, NE but what I am really interested in finding out what her diagnosis was when she was admitted. My aunts told me a little about it but not much. My father was only 5 years old when his mother was admitted and raised by his older sisters and various family members. Now they are all deceased.

    My grandmothers name was Sophia Anna Roepke Rhodes born May 29, 1888

    Thank you
    Renee Rhodes Antonowicz

    1. My uncle was admitted there in 1942 and died shortly thereafter in Jan 1943 of tertiary syphillis. Prior to being admitted there, he had been brought back from Brooklyn and spent a few months in a Omaha hospital where he was treated with mercury and heavy metals, probably contributing to his demise. We obtained his records by procuring a lawyer who supoened them. This was 10 or so years ago, so maybe things have changed.

    2. Approx 5 yrs ago I attempted to learn more regarding my great aunt who died at Norfolk State Hospital in 1937 (17 yo), however I was told that due to HIPA laws and regulations they couldn't provide me with any information without a court order. Eventually I was able to learn that she is buried in the new cemetery, and that a Catholic priest and her family was in attendance.

  2. Unfortunately the personal records of inmates of Ingleside are not available. Have you tried writing to the Hastings Regional Center? As far as I know they won't release the information, but one can always try. Good luck!

  3. My great grandmother was located in the Norfolk Asylum and I do believe died there in 1917. Do you know if any of Norfolk information has been released? I have heard there might be an organization that is trying to mark the graves at Norfolk.

  4. Mike ... contact to the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, Nebraska.

  5. Hello Ruby -
    My great-grandmother was an inmate in Norfolk in 1888 - transferred from Lincoln Asylum when the new hospital was built. We very much would like to know if there are records we can see of her diagnosis and care. Do you have any suggestions? She died in october of 1888, not that long after she was transferred to Norfolk. The story is that she was buried on a hill north of Columbus (where she was from) - I read that there was a very old burial site there which included early town people, and some who were on the trail going west. Are you familiar with this place?
    thanks for this site -

  6. Lois ... normally the information you need is not of public record. I would be surprised if you can find anything. I would suggest you contact the genealogy society in Columbus to see if they might be of help. They are:
    Platte Valley Kin Seekers, PO Box 153, Columbus, NE 68602-0153

    You might also contact the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, Nebraska for any ideas they might have.

    Good luck!

  7. Hi Ruby,
    Your blog is very helpful and informative regarding records from Hastings. Do you know anything about Lincoln Regional Center in Lancaster County? I had a relative who resided in that facility from 1880 until her death which I believe was between 1900 and you think I would have any luck finding her discharge/death date if I contacted the facility?

  8. You should go ahead and contact them to see if they have records. You could also contact the Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln, Nebraska.

  9. Hi Ruby,

    My great grandmother died at the Norfolk State Hospital at 69 in 1946 and was listed as one of the inmates on the 1930 census. Is there any agency to contact for further information?