information about max kemmerling, formerly of the ypsilanti state mental hospital

The following comment was left earlier today in an old thread about the abandoned Ypsilanti State Mental Hospital.

Hi Mark. My Great Uncle Max Kemmerling lived almost his entire adult life from the age of 20, at/in Ypsilanti State MH. Prior to his incarceration, he was an All State athlete, a National Honor Society Member, and frankly, just a real sweet, handsome guy. I plan to track down “The Three Christs of Ypsalanti” but I am curious if there are any searcable archives for the hospital. I now live in Chile, so it’s not like I can just skip down the road and look at documents.

I’d like to find out what my Uncle was there because of. Schitzophrenia? What? I’d like to know what his life was like. I never knew him, he was a “family secret”, but I did for a long time have a bedside table he made – a quite beautiful piece of work. I think he was a talented, gifted man, who just didn’t fit in. Hope you know of some resources to find out more about him. Thanks, Vicki Lansen (Kemmerling – Max Kemmerling was my Uncle).

If you have any information that could help Vicki in her quest to find out about her uncle, I’d appreciate it if you would leave a comment. Thanks.

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  1. dmcbass
    Posted March 28, 2008 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Hi, Mark. I’m a member of a geneology group that may be able to help but I’ll need more info on Max. Please pass on my email addy to Vicki and let her know I’ll be glad to see if I can help in her search.


  2. Vicki Lansen
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 12:12 am | Permalink

    Dear dmcbass,

    Please feel free to email me at my address of Max Louis Kemmerling was born approx. 1918, or 19 in or around Angola Indiana. The story is, he joined the CPS. In the late 50’s or 60’s he was able to have a couple of home visits outside of the hospital in Jonesville, Michigan. His mother’s name was Mary Kemmerling Gordon.

    I don’t expect anyone to do this work for me, but would appreciate direction.



  3. mark
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    I haven’t had the chance to look around now, but my guess is that there’s some government agency in Michigan that still has the patient records for the old YSMH. I’ll try to poke around a bit this weekend. And thanks for your offer to help, dmcbass.

  4. elviscostello
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 8:54 pm | Permalink

    You are right. They have all the old Ypsi State Hospital Records in Lansing. We had to look up a cousin’s records after she committed a crime in Hawaii, for her attorney. I’ll ask my family who we contacted.

  5. egpenet
    Posted March 29, 2008 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

    Once a month, I used to bring a carton of cigarettes to a friend in Ward B. There I met the Screaming Man and the Dancing Man. My freind is back on the street in Ann Arbor, but he doesn’t recognize me.

    If I could find him and get him to fingerpaint, maybe your friends would pay thousands for his work. He’s only a schizophrenic, but as you guys know … art is art … right?

  6. Stella
    Posted March 30, 2008 at 12:41 am | Permalink

    So by your logic, my schizophrenic partner, who has been incarcerated purely because of it, should be either banned or dissed for that reason exclusively, when doing his art, which is music, publicly?
    (and incidentally no one is “paying thousands”, for us, forty bucks is out of our range.)

  7. Joe Walker
    Posted July 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    What agency (and where in Lansing) can on go to obtain YSMH medical records?


  8. Laura
    Posted December 28, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Permalink

    I know this is a very old thread, but, I just found out that my Grandfather was also at Ypsilanti State Hospital in 1946. We have no idea how long he was there or for what. If anyone can help point me in a direction to get more informations I would greatly appreciate it!!

  9. cindy
    Posted January 5, 2011 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

    My grandmother also was at state Yipsilanti hospital in the early 1940’s
    Her name was Alice LaBeau.
    How do I get records?

  10. Laura S
    Posted February 20, 2012 at 2:15 am | Permalink

    Hello dmcbass or anyone else that could help,
    I had a family member that was either a patient or worked there, the last name was Scarinzi. Does anyone have any information about them.? Thank you..

  11. Posted June 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Where may I find the old hospital records from Ypsilanti State Hospital. My great grandmother was a patient there for 5 years and she died there

  12. David
    Posted July 15, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    My great-grandmother, Margaret Beadle, was in the Ypsilanti State Hospital from approximately 1936 – 1948. I have her death certificate but would really like to get my hands on her medical records. I know since the hospital was closed the records are archived somewhere in Lansing. Can a local genealogist find them or will it take a lawyer with a court order? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  13. Ronald Thornhill
    Posted July 8, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    I want to know how do I get my MR from YSH from 1969 I was a patient

  14. Denise
    Posted October 5, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    I hate to admit it…But i was a patient in 1980-1981. I was at the C-51 ward for minors. We had alot of interaction with the adult patients and got to know a few. I can tell you that it was very haunted. I also know that when we went to the gym, we had to walk through very long tunnels that smelled of urine so bad it was like amonia. Your nose and eyes actually burnt. They had the biggest cockroaches i ever saw in michigan, and i swear to god one day i had some bran cereal for breakfast and my cereal was moving ! We were not all treated aweful. I still remember some of the staff members names. I can say that they had NO reason to put me there. I was in the juvenile home in Flint for 6 mos waiting for a placement. I was a ward of the state so they had to place me somewhere. After i proved i was not a threat to myself & others, they locked me up in the Adrian traing school for 18 mos. They had to release me when i became an adult. My life is awesome now. I have 2 kids and 3 grandsons. Married for 29 years and very happy.

  15. Jay Books
    Posted December 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm | Permalink

    I know this is an old thread but I just discovered that my great-aunt Harriet “Hattie” Howell (nee Hanson) was incarcerated in Ypsi State Hospital from 1941 to 1943 and died there. I don’t know anything about how or why she got there and I’d like to find out for my mother. Does anyone know how I could get her medical records? My email is Thanks!

  16. EOS
    Posted December 9, 2013 at 10:29 pm | Permalink

    Wonder what percentage of visitor’s to this blog had family members at Ypsi State and how that compares to the population at large? Hmmm.

  17. Donna
    Posted February 6, 2014 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

    I was adopted a long time ago and found out that my oldest brother was a resident there. He has passed away and I would like some more information on his health history.

  18. Jim
    Posted February 25, 2014 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    I believe my grandmother was a patient at the facility also. How can I obtain records for Lily Mae Mackintosh.

  19. carl thomas dalton
    Posted March 25, 2014 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    I was a patient their in the early 1960,s i was about 10 or 11 years old. Commiûted by the state with my parents consent due to a mental disorder. I was their for about 2 or 3 years.i remember being their when john kennedy was killed. I went the chapel to pray for him and they made me leave.inwas released after that .not sure what year i got out.i still remember a few of the people i was in with.jimmy crow.robert mull.a girl named vivian.a guy from monroe named les. I would like to fnd my records if any one knows how to get them .please help. My phone no. Is 606-325-9920 o

  20. Shirley Goodspeed
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

    My mom Luella Damon,my grandma Gertrude McLain, and my sister Carolyn Rumisak were all in Ypsilanti. I’m trying to find out more about my grandma and mom while they were there and there medical records.

  21. Shirley Goodspeed
    Posted April 9, 2015 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Back in the 50’s and 60’s my mom and grandma was there.

  22. Bonnie Davenport
    Posted November 7, 2015 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    My Aunt died in the Ypsilanti Institution in 1948. I never knew her,, or any information about why she was there. My father… her brother died in 1942… and I was only 3. I am very interested in finding out more about her. I have no other relatives living, and didn’t know any family on my fathers side of the family. It was very interesting reading the information on the others who have written, but I notice there was never a reply as how to get information…. My Aunt’s name was Ethel Rochte. Bonnie Rochte Davenport

  23. Posted January 30, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    Hi. My boyfriend and I found some old blueprints while looking through some really old things his grandma has. There are a total of 3 pages of blueprints and one of them is a blueprint for an indestructible bed and on the back there is a blueprint of something we can’t quite make out, along with the other 2 blueprints. We were wondering what we could do with them and how we could find out more information about them.

  24. Dennis Caratelli
    Posted February 21, 2016 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    My wife’s uncle Henry (Andrew) Brzozowski died at the institution on 10/16/1983. He was cremated and I do not know where his remains are located. If I can find any records, or where to go in Lansing to get them, please let me know.

  25. Stephanie Myers
    Posted August 24, 2016 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    My Aunt Nancy Uloth was in the hospital sometime in the 40’s and maybe early 50’s. I would like to obtain her medical records and would appreciate any information on how to do that.

  26. B Kalb
    Posted May 31, 2018 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    I obtained a death certificate of a relative who died in the hospital in the 1936 heat wave. Go to It will show cause of death, doctor’s name, how long the patient lived there, occupation (if any), marital status. Patient medical records, I’m told, are private. The hospital is in Washtenaw County. Someone recommended a FOIA search. Wayne County (Detroit and vicinity) will not release medical records for privacy reasons. It had a mental hospital called Eloise. It was in Nankin Township, now part of city of Westland. Often, deaf people were committed as if they were mentally ill.

  27. bonnie ramirez
    Posted February 3, 2019 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    my mom was a patient from aprox. 1947-1958. please tell me how i can get her medical records. thank you

  28. IWasThereToo
    Posted April 25, 2019 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    The pain from these stories is palpable. Unfortunately, it appears that most of the old State Hospital records has been destroyed, pursuant to a “keep for (only) 20 years” policy. But some remain, and it may be worth snail mailing (or faxing) a form to the State requesting whatever records they may still possess. Here’s the link:,5885,7-339-73970_7701_74351—,00.html

    I do not know if some other kind of search or records may exist from other sources, this is just what I found about the Hospital records. Good luck to all.

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