George F. Berger

15 07 2012

In 1905, 48 people were admitted to the Oregon State Insane Asylum with a diagnosis of “alcoholism” and 16 for syphilitic symptoms.[1]  George F. Berger was one of those people.

Berger was born in Wisconsin in April of 1869 to Frank and Margaret Berger, Germans who had immigrated to the United States from what is now Baden-Württemberg.[2]  His family, including an older sister Mary, farmed in Randolph, Courtland, Columbia County, Wisconsin.[3]

Sometime between 1870 and 1880, the family moved to Oregon.  By the 1880 Federal Census, George was 12 years old and living on Olive Street in Eugene.  Father Frank is no longer in the picture and mother Margaret is going by the last name of Haney, suggesting she may have remarried.  With a two year old brother named Jacob Berger, it would further suggest that George’s father died or left sometime between 1878 and 1880, leaving George as the man of the house at a very young age.

Due to an unfortunate fire which destroyed the 1890 Federal Census, we are forced to pick up George’s trail again in Oregon City in 1896 when we find him working as a bartender for Thomas Trembrath.[4]  Four years later, he had moved back to his mother’s 5th Street home in Eugene, where he and his now 21-year-old brother both worked as bartenders.[5] Berger did not keep a low profile after his move back to Eugene.  He was arrested and fined for gambling at least twice.  As a 1903 Oregonian article reported: Read the rest of this entry »

The Matron, 1908

20 06 2012

The following was published in By Laws of Trustees Rules and Regulations for the Government of the Oregon State Insane Asylum,revised April 15, 1908.

Article V.


Section 1:  The matron shall, under the direction of the superintendent, have charge of the female department of the asylum.  She shall have a general supervision of the sewing department.  She shall be with the female patients in all the wards as much as possible; see that they are kindly treated; that their food is properly cooked, served and distributed; that their apartments are kept clean and in good order, and properly warmed and ventilated; that the female employees attend to their duties in all respects, and report to the superintendent any departure on their part from the rules and regulations of the institution.

Artifact Spotlight: T2009.002.0386

11 06 2012


These plates were inventoried in the Gold Room in 2010.

Supplying a Hospital, 1895

5 10 2009

The Oregon State Insane Asylum advertised for vendors in the Salem paper.  This notice, from the Oregon Statesman December 18, 1895 (transcribed here in full), gives a unique look into the day to day activities of the institution.  The section on drug supplies lists a wide variety of familiar products including opium, sarsaparilla, caffeine, bitter almonds, turmeric, clove oil and cocaine that would probably not be found in a hospital today.  Food suppliers are charged with some almost modern sounding restrictions, requiring dried prunes supplied be “Oregon Raised” and listing specific source countries for coffee products (Costa Rica and Java).  Orders for two dozen corsets, red handkerchiefs, slippers, denim and silesia cast a light on the dress code of the day.



The board of trustees of the Oregon state insane asylum invite sealed proposals for furnishing at the asylum, near Salem, Oregon, for the six months ending June 30, 1896, the following supplies:


1500 yds. Allen prints, assorted patterns, as per sample.

500 yds. Pequot A. sheeting, 45 in., unbleached, as per sample.

500 yds. Lonsdale sheeting, 36 in., bleached as per sample.

1000 yds. French crash linen, bleached, 18 in., as per sample.

500 yds. Glass crash linen, bleached, 18 in., as per sample.

150 yds. Table oil cloth, white, as per sample.

500 yds. Amoskeag blue denims, 9 oz., as per sample.

100 yds. Silesia, drab, as per sample.

2 doz. Corsets as per sample, size 24 to 30.

10 doz. Turkey red handkerchiefs, 24 in.

75 doz. Men’s cotton socks as per sample.

12 doz. B. & W. stay binding, white, as per sample.

½ great gross duplex safety pins No. 3 as per sample.

6 G. gross F.B. shirt buttons, as per sample.

2 G. gross pants buttons, as per sample.

Thread (Coats’ or Clark’s O.N.T.)

            15 dozen No. 40 white.

            5 dozen No. 50 black.

            5 dozen No. 50 white.

            15 dozen No. 40 black.

  Read the rest of this entry »