family history

Lillian Had a Knife – A One Way Trip To a Psychiatric Hospital

Kings Park Psychiatric HospitalWhile researching your family tree have you found any “forgotten” relatives tucked away in insane asylums? I found one. My maternal Great Aunt, Lillian Schletter. According to family lore, Lillian “went after her brother with a kitchen knife.” And that’s the end of the details. Her brother, my maternal Grandfather George Schletter, did visit her after her incarceration. But certainly nothing was spoken of Lillian, at least not to any of the younger family. And now anyone with any possible first hand memories of her are gone. Sometime between 1915 and 1920, Lillian D. Schletter was committed to what was at times the largest psychiatric hospital in the United States, Kings Park Psychiatric Center, in Kings Park, New York. The “Insane Inmate” census entry shown below is from the 1920 US Census. By the 1930 US Census, Lillian resided at the Creedmoor location of the Brooklyn State Hospital. She is also listed at Creedmoor in the 1940 Census.

After being an inmate of psychiatric hospitals for so many years, she died in July 1967. Her exact place of death is unknown however it was recorded at Suffolk County New York home to King’s Park Psychiatric Center where Lillian had been an inmate.


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