Monday, October 03, 2016

Central State Hospital Cemetery

I was at a cross country meet at E. P. “Tom” Sawyer State Park last weekend, and before the race I was there to watch, I went on a short hike to find old cemetery grounds I had seen on a park map.  It sounded like just the thing to do on a cool, overcast, slightly rainy first day of October.

In researching the place, I found that I guessed correctly that this was the cemetery for the old Central State Hospital, which was demolished a couple of decades ago.  The hospital served as a home for the mentally ill, the mentally retarded, and abandoned and impoverished elderly people.  Graves there date from 1873, but the cemetery was no longer in use by the early 1950s. Apparently, there are no records to show how many people were buried here (estimates look to vary between 600 and 5,000).  Many of the grave markers were wood, and rotted away; remaining stone markers were moved when the overgrown yard was cleaned up and “restored” sometime in the 1950s.

It sounds like there might be more stone markers in other spots; a news article from the 90s describes some as being piled up near the creek.  After foliage dies back, I might go for another look.

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