Here's my starting point:
An odd enough card for anyone to send, but odder still given the innocuous message it contains. A "bread and butter letter," it's written to my eponymous father's dad George Nelson Bentley on December 6, 1909, when he was teaching in Cripple Creek, Colorado. Not exactly a picture to make him homesick, I would think.
The letter's riveting climax: "Suppose you heard Myrtell is now Mrs. Steavens [? sic] - was married last Saturday. They have a house in Dearborn where they will live for the winter. They did not have any [over] wedding at all."
Shocker! I assume this refers to a Myrtell Grace Foster and John Howard Stevens, married two days earlier. But I have no idea what the relationship to my grandfather was.
It also mentions his father (John) and the store run with George's brother Clyde in the village of Elm, Michigan (now subsumed by Livonia, a suburb of Detroit).
Anyway, all unsuspecting, I discovered a trove of info about the asylum. The following are borrowed from them...
- This homemade site at Rootsweb.ancestry.com has a good large collection of photos
- This Asylumprojects.org page has a great description of the building’s history and design
- There's even a book about the asylum
- For a dose of counterculture, here's a Treasurenet page devoted to the asylum on a forum for urban explorers
- And here's a rather hyperbolic news article on Gendisasters.com about a fire at the asylum
- Disabilitymuseum.org also has some good photos