Laurelton Investigations and Court Cases Summary

Neither of these topics was researched either in the Pennsylvania State Archives or in  This material was collected as found while doing other searches.


  • Attorney Miller Johnson tried to bring a lawsuit against Dr. Mary M. Wolfe, Superintendent - the “habeas corpus case of Jane Taylor and Marie Faust” was closed. I never saw the full case. Marie Faust was supposedly being kept because she was so good in the dairy. But, when she was away for a length of time on parole, the dairy operation continued successfully.
    • Thursday, February 13, 1930 – The Lewisburg Journal
    • March 16, 1930 – Sunbury Daily Item – picture “Legislators Visit Troubled Institution”
    • Thursday, April 3, 1930 – Lewisburg Journal
    • Saturday, June 21, 1930 – Shamokin News Dispatch -  Dr. Wolfe first tendered her resignation over a salary dispute because she had gone two years without a raise. She then withdrew her resignation.


  • Governor Edward Martin was “shocked”, according to the Sunbury Daily Item, by the “Magnificence” of the Laurelton Theater which was erected for $750,000. during the term of the previous Governor, George H. Earle.  Described as Governor Earle’s monument.  At the time there were 1000 patients on 1800 acres.


  • The week beginning February 10, 1955 saw charges brought by State Welfare Secretary Harry Shapiro (under Governor George M. Leader  - Altoona Tribune).  The charges were brought by a former social worker, Mrs. Doris Marino, B.A. of Lewisburg, Miss (Mrs.) Virginia (Ely) Schneeberg, RN., MA., Psychiatric Nurse II, Director of Nurses, and Miss Virginia Wilson, a nurse.  They had brought attention to the conditions to Dr. Ireland, Superintendent and had gotten no results.
  • Sunbury Daily Item, February 16, 1955.  Secretary Shapiro said that a 13 year old girl was driven insane (by the conditions and treatment) and had to be moved to Warren State Hospital. Superintendent Ireland responded that Johnston (Cottage) was woefully inadequate for the large number of dangerous girls.
  • The Gettysburg Times,  February 17, 1955  reported that the Reverend Fred Maue, President of the Board of Trustees, described the state order (to remove 40 mentally defective women on February 10, 1955 from “miserable conditions”) “was drastic and causing great disturbance and chaos. These women were violently disturbed at certain periods.  They needed the special cottage to prevent harm to themselves and others”.
  • The Sunbury Daily Item, Friday, February 18, 1955 reported that Dr. Effie Ireland, Superintendent and Dr. DeEtte Edgett, Assistant Superintendent quit in the wake of the charges by Secretary Shapiro.  Also resigning were Mrs. Charles Fenton (Dorothy D.), Assistant Superintendent of Nurses and Mrs. Jessie Zerby (Mrs. Jessie Townsend Zebley), Investigator for the Social Services Department.
  • The trustees sponsored an impartial non-political investigation.
  • Sunbury Daily Item, September 29, 1955 – “Both Women Were Cleared of Charges”.
  • October 10, 1955 - ? - State Senator Samuel B. Wolfe charged that there were 28 illegitimate babies born and 14 inmates escaped at one time.


  • Sunbury Daily Item, “Letter to the Editor”, September 19057, State Senator Samuel B. Wolfe said that there were 16 psychiatrists (psychologists?) at Laurelton.  He reported waste and expenditure for carpeting so thick that they had to cut off doors and cherry cabinets for offices. He said it was false economy to move 60 employees (from their homes) off of the grounds.


  • Huntingdon Daily News, February 10, 1958, S. B. Wolfe calls for an investigation.
  • Sunbury Daily Item, October 8, 1958, Senator Wolfe says that conditions are worse than ever with babies and runaways.  
  • From the full court record of Clark vs. Cohen, U. S. District Court, June 20, 1958.  The “tragic” case of Carolyn Clark, a 44 year old resident, committed in 1956 at age 15 against her will and not given appropriate release hearings.  She was from Philadelphia and requested community living placement.  She had not seen her family in 6 years.
  • Phila Co. was ordered to work with the institution to develop an appropriate placement for Carolyn. - J. Peter 

(I believe there were more cases through the years but I did not find them. Efj.)