6 Replies Latest reply on Sep 10, 2021 4:16 PM by Lynn Taylor-Buccafuri

    Seeking mental health records & death certificate for Hazel Byrd

    Janelle Fleury Wayfarer

      My mother and her brother were 'adopted' in the 1950's from Bethany Orphanage in Bethany, Kentucky. According to my mother's birth certificate she was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 13th 1946. Her brother, William was born in Kentucky Nov 7th 1947. Her father was Frank "Alec" Byrd and mother was Hazel Alice maiden name, Briscoe. Hazel's DOB- 1/8/1925.  Frank was in a car accident in 1949 in Sharonville, OH, that killed him.  After recent conversations with my mother and countless hours on ancestry, newspaper.com,.familysearch, and so-on, I have come to find out Hazel was committed in 1948 before her husband died and that his father, William Byrd, is the one who had her committed.


      In my search I have found the following information - Newspaper articles of Franks death, his grave stone on findagrave,com, my mother Myrtle's birth certificate with Hazel and Frank's dates of birth; marked as married; Hazel residing in Cincinnati for 5 years (1941-1946), a record of Hazel Briscoe being my Uncle William Weeden's mother born in Kentucky and pictures of old records from Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, KY from 1948 with Hazel Bird and Hazel Byrd. As I've learned more, regarding Eastern State Hospital, due to a complete lack of any record after that time, (December 1948). I have never found a death certificate for Hazel Byrd Briscoe nor a marriage license for her and Frank AKA Alec AKA Alex Byrd. I am compelled to continue looking for answers and the truth regarding her life. Even if she passed at ESH and was buried in the mass unmarked grave sites on the property, I am driven to know what happened to this women and honor her memory because it seems the world never knew she existed.


      I have considered petitioning courts for adoption records along with my mother. My mother was born in Ohio, was place in an orphanage in Kentucky, and then sent to live with her new family in Indiana in1954 (according to her memory). So which state would have the records? Also, it is unknown if an adoption had ever legally been placed. According to my mothers most recent information from memory that she failed to mention, Hazel had never given up her parental rights, mainly because no one could find her. So William Byrd (Hazel's father-in-law) allowed for a name change to take place because he was apparently legal guardian of my mom and uncle at the time.


      I guess the information that I'd like to have is her date and place of death. If a marriage between her and Frank ever occurred and if there is a marriage license. If she was ever discharged from ESH and what her life turned into if she did. I don't know if anyone will be able to help me but I have listed as much factual information below as I can:


      Hazel Alice Briscoe DOB- January 8th 1925 Stanton, Powell County, Kentucky

      Father-Weeden Elbert Briscoe

      Mother-Ethel J. James

      Siblings- Roscoe, Charles, Lela, Sadie

      Spouse-Alec "Frank" Byrd born on March 29,1919 in Wolfe County, Kentucky and died May 22, 1949 in Sharonville, Hamilton County, Ohio

      Father-in-law-William E. Byrd

      Mother-in-law- Myrtle Jane Robinson

      Children- Myrtle Loretta Byrd born on March 13, 1946 in Cincinnati, Ohio and William Weeden Byrd born on November 5,1947 in Powell, Kentucky & died on June 24 2009 in Clearwater, Florida.

      Possible admittance to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky in August 1948.


      Thank you for taking the time to read about Hazel Briscoe's life as I know it. Also, my enormous gratitude for any information or guidance in finding the answers my mother and I seek.

        • Re: Seeking mental health records & death certificate for Hazel Byrd
          Alice Lane Pioneer

          Hi Janelle,

          Welcome to History Hub


          You may have see this already, but if not there is a lot of patient information. Click on Asylums to get to EHS.

          Good Luck in your search


          ESH: Patient Death Index – Kentucky Historic Institutions


          Alice Lane

          Research Volunteer

          • Re: Seeking mental health records & death certificate for Hazel Byrd
            Lynn Taylor-Buccafuri Wayfarer

            This is not your answer…however, I have the same questions about my aunt, and no one is alive to tell us (3 older sister and I).  She was in Byberry State Institute or Hospital Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. All i have heard about the place is that it was god awful, that it is now haunted, that people there were treated poorly.  I don't know if I would be able to hear the detailed facts without showing emotion, but I would love to be able to find her records or information about her.  So frustrating. 
            Also, I have seen BYRD/BIRD as a surname in my familys dna matches…..are you related to anyone in Pennsylvania?  (Sorry, had to ask ). Enjoy your night and I hope you find the information you are looking for.


              • Re: Seeking mental health records & death certificate for Hazel Byrd
                Janelle Fleury Wayfarer

                Hi Lynn, sorry to hear you're going through the same problems regarding your Aunt. It's so frustrating and heartbreaking the more I've read about these institutions back in the day. Thank goodness things have vastly improved since then. It is quite possible I am related to people in Pennsylvania. My mom did her DNA for ancestry.com, which is why we've been able to find and figure out a lot more about her biological family. Are you on ancestry? If so, we should try to see if our trees link. Hope you're having  a good day and thank you for responding to my post.

                  • Re: Seeking mental health records & death certificate for Hazel Byrd
                    Lynn Taylor-Buccafuri Wayfarer

                    Hi Janelle,

                    I was just about to proofread my response to you and somehow I lost the whole message I had typed. I am not sure if it went to the moderators, or if it was deleted as it happened so fast   ♀.  I apologize.  Yes I am on Ancestry, MyHeritage, and 23and Me (although I do not have a tree posted there).   You should be able to find me on any site that I am a member of and you could send me a request or message. I am still not familiar how to go about finding what or whom I am looking for, I have the worst time since I started this journey to build my family tree using my iPad and iPhone. I finally got a desktop computer and now I am petrified to touch the darn thing, fear that I might lose something from any of my searches, etc..

                    I would be more than happy to see if there is a link between the families, of course I would need help because I have had the worst time as I said above plus even more negative issues in my searching.  However, I am addicted to genealogy/ancestry & dna stuff , but I don't quite grasp the concept of how to figure it all out, I am second guessing my thoughts and then I completely lose my train of thought and it drives me nuts. I swear it feels as if I eat sleep and dream ancestry/genealogy and dna, its been like this for 2 years.  
                    Anyway, Anyone should be able to fine me on the websites, (Ancestry, FTDNA, MyHeritage, 23 and me, and my GEDMATCH kit# T016375.  I would love to see if there is a family link.  My half sister Kathy’s kit#A453529, my cousins kit #QQ6108596, maybe that can help (?)  My half nephew tested through Ancestry, I can give you that kit number later, and I will hope and pray that you can find me on ancestry or the other sites so that we can collaborate.

                    it was nice to hear from you, Thank you,  I look forward to hearing from you again.  Enjoy your night/weekend.
                    ~ Lynn

                • Re: Seeking mental health records & death certificate for Hazel Byrd
                  Lisha Penn Pioneer

                  Dear Ms. Fleury,


                  Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


                  We suggest that you contact the Kentucky Office of Vital Statistics and/or the Vital Statistics of the Ohio Department of Health to obtain a copy of the birth, marriage, and death certificates for Hazel Byrd and Alec Byrd, using all name variants.


                  We also suggest that you search Eastern State Hospital: Cemetery Index website to ascertain if Hazel Byrd may be buried there; and see Eastern State Hospital for background information about this facility.


                  We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your family research!