Sunday, October 5, 2014


Recently, I discovered the world of Census Records and the word "inmate". I always identified this word with prisons or jails. However, this is not the case when it comes to Census Records! I've discovered that the key term "inmate" is much more than that. 

The actual definition of inmate is: a person confined to an institution such as a prison or hospital; one of several occupants of a house. (Google)

I decided to do a general search on using just the last name and the keyword "inmate". I had no results for the surname Jeckering, but I had several results for the surname Mendenhall. I found the following individuals in my tree:

~Sarah D. Overman (1840-aft 1900)- married my 2nd cousin, 7x removed- John S. Mendenhall (1838-1864). She and John had 2 children: Alice and Stephen. 

Sarah was a mental hospital in 1900, at the age of 60- Central Asylum 
Hospital for Insane in Wayne, Marion, Indiana.

~Paris/Paras Mendenhall (1876- aft 1920)- 6th cousin, 5x removed. He is the son of Joshua Mendenhall (1849-1921) & Sarah "Emma" Hunter (1850-1936). 

Starting in the 1900 Census Record (age 24), Paras is living in the Iowa Institution for Feeble Minded Children- located in Glenwood, Mills, Iowa. He continues to show up in the 1910 and 1920 Census Records, still in this same institution. One can only assume he was born disabled- maybe down syndrome or some other type of permanent mental problem. He never married.

~Mordecai Mendenhall (b. 1826)- 3rd cousin, 6x removed. Mordecai was my first case that wasn't in a mental institution. Mordecai was in the 1910 Census Record, listed as an inmate in the Tipton County Almshouse (Poor House) in Cicero, Tipton, Indiana. 

~John Burnside Mendenhall Jr. (1839-1914)- 5th cousin, 7x removed. John was first seen as an inmate in the Census Records in 1910 at the age of 71. He was living in the U.S. National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was admitted at the age of 54 in 1893. 

~Cornelius Mendenhall (b. 1851)- 3rd cousin, 5x removed. Cornelius was in the 1910 Census Record as an inmate of the Morgan County Infirmary in Washington, Indiana. This is all I know about his case.

~Ida Lawrence Cowle (1856-1916)- Nephew of husband of 2nd great grand aunt (that's a mouthful!). 

Ida married John Cromwell Mendenhall (1855-1935) in 1880 and they had 12 children- only 7 of them lived into adulthood. In 1910, she is listed as an inmate in the Southern Indiana Hospital for the Insane in Evansville, Indiana. 

~James Edgar Mendenhall (1874-1953) & Charles A Mendenhall (b 1879) (brothers)- 5th cousins, 4x removed. 

James and Charles show up in 3 Census Records together (1910, 1920, 1930) as inmates of the Hamilton County Poor Farm in Orville, Nebraska. I thought this was just a sad case(s) because both brother's didn't have any type of future. It wasn't as if they were ill (enough) to be in a hospital or asylum...they were just poor. I doubt either one ever married.

~Robert P. Mendenhall (1876-1918)- 5th cousin, 7x removed. Robert was in the 1910 Census Record as an inmate of the Hamilton State Hospital in Perry, Ohio at the age of 34. I don't know if this was just a regular hospital where he was ill (he didn't die until 8 years later) or if this was a mental hospital (I doubt because of the name).

~Ethel Mae Mendenhall (b. 1885)- 7th cousin, 4x removed. Ethel is another case similar to Paras. She was first seen in the Census Records as an inmate in 1910 (age 25) at the Nebraska Institution for the Feeble Minded Youth in Midland, Nebraska. She continues to be there until 1930. 

~Cora Belle Mendenhall (1894-1926)- 6th cousin, 5x removed. Cora's case surprised me. She shows up in the 1910 Census Record (age 16) as an inmate in the House of the Good Shepherd (nun) in Dubuque, Iowa. I am curious about her because not only was she a nun at such a young age, but she died young also- at the age of 32.

~Sarah Mendenhall (b. 1901)- 3rd cousin, 4x removed. Sarah's case was interesting as well. She shows up in the 1910 Census Record at the age of 9 as an inmate of the Institution for the Feeble Minded in Columbus, Ohio. This case is interesting because she was only 9, but I imagine she was there because of some mental condition and her siblings couldn't/wouldn't care for her - her parents died in 1904 and 1906.

~Meek Mendenhall (1865-1935)- 5th cousin, 7x removed. Meek (interesting name) shows up in the 1930 Census Record as an inmate at the North Carolina State Hospital for Insane in Morganton, North Carolina. 

~Lillian L. Hibbs (1866-1933)- married my 4th cousin, 4x removed- Jessie J. Mendenhall (1861-1899). She and Jessie had 2 sons- Leland and Otho and her husband died really young, just after the children were born. Lillian raised them alone and through the Census Records, I could track her through household to household- living as a boarder and with "friends". In 1930, she shows up as an inmate at the Clarinda State Hospital in Nodaway, Iowa at the age of 64.


  1. Wow! So many hits! I hadn't thought about searching that way. Thanks for the idea!

    I, too, only thought an inmate was a prisoner until I found out otherwise in my own research:

    And then The Legal Genealogist did a terrific post about this subject, too!

    I'll be searching for more 'inmates' in my tree!

    1. I'll have to check those out, thank you! Glad you like the idea! :)

  2. I see you and I have same place, Nebraska Inst for Feeble minded for Edward Greer he showed up there in 1940 US census and he was with his parents in 1930 at age of 21 but then parents divorced and I found Edward in feeble minded in 1940 then his mother obituary said that Edward lived in Curtis, Frontiner, Nebraska in 1966 I am still tryig to find him and wondering if hes same person who was in that hospital or not. Do you know where I can contact that hospital if not I will try to goggle thank you

    1. Hi Cindy, which hospital are you referring to, the one from Edward Greer's 1940 U.S. Census? I'm not familiar with it, you didn't state it in your message. I would try searching Google :)