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My G-G-G-Grandfather
James B. Richardson --


When you look into your family history, you should always be prepared to find the unusual.  Recently (early 2012) I have been tracking down some of my ancestors about whom I have little information.  One of these is one of my great-great-great-grandfathers, James B. Richardson.  Turns out he was "insane" and died in 1859 in an "asylum" in Jackson, Louisiana.  Here are the details.

James B. Richardson

James B. (Brumfield ?) Richardson was born 25 December 1789 in Sumter District, South Carolina and died in July 1859 in an "insane asylum" in Jackson, West Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.  I have not determined his date of death -- my mother, Annie Lee Richardson Schlatter, had information indicating he died 7/26/1859 while a Richardson family bible lists 7/21/1859.

He married Martha Mary Riley (Reily ?) on 19 March 1812; she was born 2 February 1795 in Santee River, SC, and died 1 May 1867 in Wilkinson County, MS. 

They had TEN children:

  1. Robert Riley Richardson, my G-G-Grandfather; b. 25 Jan 1812, d. 16 Mar 1874

  2. Martha Richardson, b. abt 1814

  3. Rufus R. Richardson, b. abt 1816

  4. Francis S. (Frank) Richardson, b. 12 Mar 1824, d. 25 Nov 1898

  5. George P. Richardson, b. abt 1825, d. after 1850

  6. Franklin Richardson, b. abt 1826, d. after 1850

  7. Samuel J. Richardson, b. abt 1829, d. after 1910

  8. Susan Tullia Richardson, b. 26 June 1830, d. 10 Apr 1909 (More about her in another articlethat I have not yet published.)

  9. Sumpter C. Richardson, b. abt 1833, d. after 1870

  10. John Y. D. Richardson, b. abt 1836, d. Feb 1926


While reviewing census records, I found James B. Richardson and his family in the 1850 federal census for Wilkinson County, MS.  The census-taker made a notation next to James B. Richardson's name:  "Insane."  See the photo below.





   The line indicated by the arrow reads:

Name Age Sex Place of birth Whether deaf and dumb,
blind, insane, idiotic, pauper,
or convict.
James Richardson 61 M S. C. Insane


Here is another document.  The heading reads:

SCHEDULE 3. -- Persons who died during the Year ending 1st June, 1860, in the asylum at Jackson in the County of East Feliciana State of Louisiana, enumerated by me, Wm. Richardson, Ass't Marshal.  (NOTE:  I found this record on the website in the "U.S. Federal Census Mortality Records, 1850-1860."  This link may not work for you if you do not have a subscription to


Note line 6:

J. B. Richardson; age 67; M(ale); So Car (place of birth); July (Month in which died);
???? (Cause of death)

  •  Because this document lists people who died "during the year ending 1st June 1860," this places his death in July 1859.
  •  The cause of death is illegible but it looks like "Fim."
  •  As of 3 February 2012, I have found that patient records from this "asylum" for the period 1848 - 1922 are at the Louisiana State Archives.  I have requested a copy of his records and will add to this article any information I receive from the Archives. 
    • UPDATE:  In late February 2012, I received a reply from the Louisiana State Archives.  The researcher who replied to my request was himself a Richardson descendant!  He found the patient record for James B. Richardson but the only information on the record was his date of death.
    • UPDATE:  I suspect James B. Richardson was buried in the cemetery at the asylum, however, I have not been successful in locating information on burials in this cemetery. (December 2012)

I found some interesting entries in this record of people who died in the "asylum" at Jackson.

  •  Several of the people listed are from Germany, Italy, France, and Ireland.
  •   Three of these people are listed with only one name:  Miller (line 23), Ralph (line 30), and ???? (line 13).
  •  Various causes of death are listed:  Diarrhea; paralysis; consumption; pneumonia; general disability; exhaustion; gastritis; chronic diarrhea; and, some I cannot read.

The Asylum at Jackson

I found several references on the Internet to the mental hospital in Jackson, East Feliciana Parish, Louisiana.  The hospital today is part of the East Louisiana Mental Health System.

I found a brief  history of the hospital:

Eastern Louisiana State Mental Hospital has provided acute and long-term care inpatient mental health services for more than 150 years. On November 21, 1848, the entire mentally ill population of CHNO (Central Hopsital New Orleans) was transported by steamboat up the Mississippi River to Bayou Sara and from there, by oxcart to the Insane Asylum of Louisiana (ELSH). It is one of the oldest landmarks in the Felicianas.

Here is a list that purports to be a list of patients moved to the asylum in 1848 (two pages).

Here is an online copy of a little booklet containing a report made in 1857 by the hospital's Board of Adminstrators to the Louisiana State Legislature.  While the booklet does not contain the names of patients, it does provide a few details about the operation of the asylum.  Note in this report the nationalities and diagnoses of the patients.  This report is dated 1857; James Richardson died in 1859, thus, he may have been a patient when this report was prepared.  Page 12 of the booklet lists the "Places of Nativity" of the patients; one patient is listed as having been born in  South Carolina, possibly James Richardson.

I also found several photos of the original asylum buildings.  Here is one photo that was published on a post card in 1907.

The original asylum building is considered to be one of the largest and most significant Greek Revival buildings in Louisiana, and is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Further research

As of 3 February 2012, I am continuing to research my G-G-G-Grandfahter's history.  I have established contact with a lady who is descended from James B. Richardson through his daughter, Susan Tullia Richardson.  She has several photos of Susan Tullia Richardson and I have asked if she has any photos of James B. Richardson or members of his family.



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