Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Ganong Family & Eloise

Detroit Free Press, October 31, 2010
The degrees of separation between two iconic Metro Detroit landmarks in the old Eloise asylum buildings and the ever-haunted Ganong Cemetery in Westland have just grown smaller for me with the fact that at least one of the namesake's family members was a mental patient at the asylum. Mary Ganong, daughter-in-law to William Ganong, a farmer who set aside a parcel of his land for the cemetery, died at Eloise in 1909 from a combination of exhaustion, senility, dementia and apoplexy.

An infant girl (named Fred?) born to Georgia Tyley Ganong and Frederick Charles Ganong, a grandson of William, died at Eloise in 1904 shortly after her premature birth due to a fall sustained by the mother. Although there's no indication that the mother was residing at the asylum it's quite possible since the cause of death seems to state that she had fallen and miscarried the child who died 20 minutes after the incident. Owing to the fact that transportation in 1904 wasn't what it is today, arriving at the hospital shortly after the fall seems unlikely though there is no way to know the exact circumstances. It's also quite possible that the fall and the birth didn't even happen at the same time.

It should also be noted that Joshua Ganong, a son of William, attempted to have his brother committed to the Pontiac Asylum in 1889 so what was deemed as mental illness seems to have been a part of the family history. I also came across several articles concerning stolen property between family members, arrests and court proceedings with additional foibles so these guys tended to be a quarrelsome bunch to say the least.

If you haven't been to the cemetery and are into such things, it's a picturesque little graveyard with several spooky stories that only enhance its allure.

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