Clarinda State Hospital: Georgia Wilson

After Dan Wilson died in 1909, his widow Georgia and younger daughters (Verna age 2 and Fonnie, 6) moved into Panora. By then, daughter Alice was married, and Rectha married soon after. Georgia had lost both parents, her mother just a few weeks before the birth of Verna. Clabe Wilson was still at home, helping care for his younger sisters, even diapering baby Verna. He may also have moved into Panora with them, but in 1914, he married Leora Goff and moved to Monteith.

Clabe and Leora Wilson in front of the home of his mother, Georgia Wilson, in Panora, Iowa. 1914

Georgia had some kind of “attack” in June 1917. The next month she was admitted to The Retreat in Des Moines with Fonnie and Verna. The Retreat was a private mental health center where a parent could keep children with them. By October, a guardian was appointed for her daughters.


Georgia was admitted to Clarinda State Hospital November 9, 1917. Her granddaughter (my mother Doris) requested the her records from the hospital. Case No. 8179 Ward Notes: Nov. 24, 1917 – “Was in depression when she entered hospital and remained in this condition; would not answer questions put to her and did not pay any attention to things going on around her. Took nourishment quit well, but gradually grew weaker and more depressed and did not respond to medical aid and passed away at 8 p.m. The cause of death being exhaustion from manic depressive – depression. The remains were sent to Stuart, Iowa.”

Georgia Wilson was 53 years old. Her funeral was held at Dale City and burial was at Morrisburg Cemetery.

I’ll tell more stories in the morning at the Panora Library, which isn’t far from Georgia Wilson’s house in the background of the cover photo of Leora’s Early Years.



    • Thank you, Nancy. I’m still discovering compelling connections. and gaining an appreciation of the grandfather (Clabe) I never knew and who lived through so much heartache and so many terrible losses.

  1. Wonder what underlying morbidity she had. Probably was depressed because she felt bad. 😞

    Why do every time I see “Clarinda Hospital ” I hear my mother break into “rooty toot toot 🎶 rooty toot toot 🎶 were from the Clarinda Institute!” Well you know the rest!!! 😆

    • She’d certainly been through a lot, living with a man who was violent when he was drunk (see yesterday’s post). I don’t recognize the jingle, but I do remember playground taunts about being sent to Clarinda.

    • I wouldn’t know how, but the last one I did at Beaverdale Books in February was live-streamed and I think still available. I think it was hard to hear, though, even though I was miked. Because of worsened fibromyalgia symptoms, this will likely be my last one, at least out of town. I’ve turned down three invitations and canceled one for later this summer.
      My favorite chauffeur has also developed Parkinson’s!

  2. Joy, I have read about her before from you, but her story is so tragic that once again I feel so bad for her. She was such a pretty woman, by the way.

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