Research Thoughts

Suffers Hallucinations

Margaret Oleath Hansen was born November 4, 1886 in Denmark, Brown County, Wisconsin to Jens (James) and Marie Kirstine Jensdatter Hansen, who had emigrated from Denmark in 1881. 

By the time the 1900 United States Federal Census was enumerated, they were living in Marinette, Marinette County, Wisconsin. James was working as “Laber in coal.” [1] The census taker was not the best at his job (sorry John Stratton, whoever you are), as he noted that Marie was the mother of nine children, with eight living, and then proceeded to enumerate nine children. The eldest, Peter, age 22, had been born in Denmark, and the youngest, Willie and Ethel, were enumerated as both being two years of age, born just five months apart. I am sure with a bit more research, I could sort this out, but this short piece is to be about Margaret, or Maggie as she was called. 

On October 3, 1903, just a month shy of her 17th birthday, Maggie’s mother passed away at the age of 50, in Marinette. Maggie would marry Henry Louis (Ludwig) Edward Dettman on March 3, 1908 in Menominee, Menominee County, Wisconsin. The couple worked together in the grocery business their entire marriage. Henry died in 1956 at the age 70, and Margaret passed away on May 22, 1968. She was 81 years old. 

Why my interest in Margaret? While doing newspaper research, I came across an article about a Margaret Hanson, [sic] 20 years old, of Marinette.[2] This article was directly above the article I was looking to review, and was titled: “Insane Girl Would Be Lawyer.” The sub-title goes on to report: “Margaret Hanson of Marinette Is Cultured, but Suffers Hallucinations.” That caught my attention! The article states that this poor girl’s “hallucination” was that she wished to become a lawyer and study for the bar. For wishing to become a lawyer, she was committed to the insane asylum.

Margaret told the 1940 United States Federal Census [3] enumerator that the highest grade in school that she had completed was 5th grade. The court in 1906 found her “cultured and refined,” and “she was able to quote long passages from Dickens, Shakespeare and other authors.” So while she only had formal schooling till 5th grade, she never stopped learning. For her desire to continue learning, and to become a lawyer, the court committed her to the insane asylum, and it just so happened that the newly built Marinette County Asylum, Mental Health Institution, and Poor Home was open, and ready to accept patients. 

Marinette County Insane Asylum, Marinette, Wis.

There is the chance that the Margaret whose life I briefly told, is not the Margaret who wished to be a lawyer, but she was the only Margaret Hansen living in Marinette, age 20. I also do not know how long she was kept at the asylum, but she married Henry Dettman two years later, so I so hope it was not a long stay. If I did wish to search further, the Coffrin Library at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay has the asylum records. While most information is restricted, it does look as though the admission book may be open for viewing. [4]

I am so glad to be living in a time when a young woman, obviously smart, who wished to become a lawyer, can become a lawyer. 

Sources:

  1. 1. 1900 U.S. census, Marinette County, Wisconsin, population schedule, Marinette, 4th Ward, enumeration district (ED) 118, sheet 2 (penned), p. 129B (stamped), dwelling 23, family 28, James Hanson household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jan 2021); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, FHL Microfilm: 1241799.
  2.  2. “Insane Girl Would Be Lawyer,” The Manitowoc Pilot, 15 Feb 1906, p. 3, col. 6; digital images, GenealogyBank (www.genealogybank.com : accessed 21 Jan 2021).  
  3. 3. 1940 U.S. census, Marinette County, Indiana, population schedule, Marinette, 5th Ward, enumeration district (ED) 38-21, sheet 10, p. 290A, household 218, Henry L. Dittman household; digital images, Ancestry.com (www.ancestry.com : accessed 22 Jan 2021); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T627.
  4. 4. Pine View Health Care Center Records, 1906-1993. http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/wiarchives.uw-whs-mari0030

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *