Paul Morphy's biographer, David Lawson, wrote:
It was in 1875 that Maurian first began to notice some strange talk by
Morphy as mentioned in his letter below. Soon after, Morphy's imbalance
reached a climax when he suspected a barber of being in collusion with one
of his friends, Mr. Binder, whom he attacked, actually trying to provoke a
duel (Maurian said he was a good swordsman), believing the friend had
wronged him. This raised the question of mental competence. As a
consequence of the attack, thinking it might be the prelude to further
violence against himself or others, his family considered putting him in
an institution for care and treatment, the "Louisiana Retreat," run by an
order of the Catholic Church. So one day all the family took a ride, and
he was brought in. Upon realizing the situation, Morphy so expounded the
law applying to his case that the nuns refused to accept him, and his
mother and the others realized he needed no such constraint.
Paul Morphy's niece, Regina Morphy-Voitier wrote, in her pamphlet the Life
of Paul Morphy in the Vieux Carré of New Orleans and Abroad:
For quite a while he was under the impression that someone was trying to
poison him, and in consequence refused to eat anything unless the cooking
had previously been supervised by either his mother or his sister.
She explains how his brother Edward, his cousin Edgar Hinks and Charles
Maurian took Paul to the Louisiana Retreat with the idea of admitting him.
Paul, understanding his predicament, argued with such logic and legal
facility that the Sisters refused to admit him, both convinced of his
sanity and fearful of reprisals.
The Louisiana Retreat was located on on Henry Clay Avenue - between Coliseum St.
and Chestnut St.
The Sisters of Charity of St. Vincent De Paul started caring for the mentally
ill in 1841 at Charity Hospital ( a 300 bed facility) and in 1863 the
Sister's established a sanitarium specifically for that purpose at the hospital.
In 1876 they acquired their own facility (shown on left).
This is where Morphy was taken.
The Louisiana Retreat for the Feeble Minded, as it would be called in 1896,
eventually became DePaul Hospital located at 1040 Calhoun Street, New Orleans.
The original building still exists as part of the hospital.
Obviously, Lawson miscalculated slightly. Since the Louisiana Retreat didn't
exist until 1876, Morphy couldn't have been taken there in 1875.
Bishop Berkley sent me this unique newspaper clipping:
Also from 1875 is an letter from a correspondent in Paris about Morphy (who was
in Paris in 1858, 1863 and 1867)