A Guide to the King George County (Va.), Health and Medical Records, 1885-1899 King George County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1885-1899 1059639

A Guide to the King George County (Va.), Health and Medical Records, 1885-1899

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Collection Number 1059639


Library of Virginia

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© 2020 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: LVA Staff

The Library of Virginia
Collection Number
King George County Health and Medical Records, 1885-1899
.225 cf
King George County (Va.) Circuit Court

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

King County (Va.) Health and Medical Records, 1885-1899. Local government records collection, King George County Court Records, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

This collection came to the Library of Virginia in a transfer of court papers from King George County Circuit Court under accession number 41900.

Historical Information

Mental Health Records may consist of a variety of documents that historically were referred to as lunacy papers in the courthouses of Virginia localities and municipalities.

See also: Fiduciary Records. A fiduciary is an individual who enters into a confidential and legal relationship which binds them to act on behalf of another. Guardians are legally invested to take care of another person, and of the property and rights of that person. Thus, some records referred to as insanity papers are housed with fiduciary records and not with mental health records.

First known as commissions, the Justice of the Peace office originated with the county quarterly court in 1623. Commanders of Plantations (1607-1629) were predecessors of the commissioners, who since 1662 have been called justices of the peace. They have traditionally had both civil and criminal jurisdiction, and have served other functions, including performing coroners' and lunacy inquisitions. Until 1869 justices served both as judges of the county court and as individual justices; since then they have had only the latter function.

During its session begun in November 1769, the House of Burgesses passed an act establishing a hospital in Williamsburg for the mentally ill. The Eastern Lunatic Asylum (now Eastern State Hospital) was the first institution in America constructed as a mental hospital. The first patients were admitted in October 1773.

In March 1882 a 300 acre tract of land was purchased by the City of Petersburg and given to the state for the purpose of constructing a permanent mental health facility for African Americans. Construction of the new facility near Petersburg was completed in early spring 1885. This later included a special building to house the criminally insane apart from the rest of the hospital population. An early institutional history notes that treatment at Central Lunatic Asylum during the 1890s was humane and emphasized the value of work and the benefits of recreation. However, practices at the facility also included seclusion, mechanical restraints, and the administering of hypnotics.

In 1894, Central Lunatic Asylum was officially renamed Central State Hospital. This piece of legislation also altered the names of the other mental health facilities in Virginia in and attempt to inspire a more positive image of the institutions, and of mental health treatment in general. It is important to note that another state institution located in Staunton, Virginia went by the name Central Lunatic Asylum between the years of 1861 and 1865. Its name later was changed to Western Lunatic Asylum, and is a separate facility with no connection to the Richmond/Petersburg hospital for African Americans.

In January 1825 the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation providing for the construction of an asylum in the western part of the state. The institution, which become known as Western Lunatic Asylum, was constructed close to the town of Staunton, west of the Blue Ridge Mountains, was the second mental health facility built in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The buildings and surrounding gardens were designed to embrace the idea of "moral therapy" for mentally ill patients by providing an aesthetically pleasing and tranquil atmosphere in which patients lived comfortably, exercised and worked outdoors.

King George County was named of in honor of King George I. The county was formed from Richmond County by a statute of 23 December 1720. The county court first met on 19 May 1721. The county seat is King George.

Scope and Content

King George County (Va.) Health and Medical Records 1885-1899 consists of .225cf of Mental Health Records. These primarily include warrants, orders, petitions, depositions, reports, etc. for or by justices of the peace and others regarding the mental condition of individuals who were released to the recognizance of a family member or who were recommended to be committed to mental hospitals in Williamsburg or Petersburg. Fiduciary records such as estate inventories of a person judged insane are occasionally present. See other collections of King George County Fiduciary Records or Tax and Fiscal Records for mental-health-related materials that are not filed here.

Individuals who were referenced as "colored" or were recommended to the Central Lunatic Asylum or the hospital at Petersburg are noted: Baylor Hoskins, Annie Clopton, Nannie Morton, Margaret Dunlop, Mattie Washington, William Barnes.


Chronologically by year, with names of individual on paper folders. If an individual had more than one instance of suspected mental incapacity, there may be papers filed in more than one chronological location.

Related Material

Additional King George County court records can be found on microfilm and in the Chancery Records Index at the Library of Virginia. Consult "A Guide to Virginia County and City Records on Microfilm" and The Chancery Records Index .

King George County is one of Virginia's Lost Records Localities. Additional King George County Records may be found in the Virginia Lost Records Localities Digital Collection at the Library of Virginia .

Index Terms

    Corporate Names:

  • Central Lunatic Asylum for Colored Insane, Virginia.
  • Central State Hospital (Petersburg, Va.).
  • Eastern State Hospital (Va.).
  • King George County (Va.) Circuit Court.
  • Subjects:

  • African Americans--Mental Health--Virginia--King George County.
  • County courts--Virginia--King George County.
  • Insanity--Jurisprudence--Virginia--King George County.
  • Jails--Virginia--King George County.
  • Medical laws and legislation--Virginia--King George County.
  • Mental Health Facilities--Virginia.
  • Mental illness--Virginia--King George County.
  • Physicians--Virginia--King George County.
  • Psychiatric hospitals--Virginia.
  • Public health administration--Virginia.
  • Public health--Virginia.
  • Public records--Virginia--King George County.
  • Geographical Names:

  • King George County (Va.)--History--19th Century.
  • Genre and Form Terms:

  • Health and Medical--Virginia--King George County.
  • Local government records--Virginia--King George County.

Significant Places Associated With the Collection

  • King George County (Va.)--History--19th Century.