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SC Committee to Preserve and Restore Historic Cemeteries

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Presentation on theme: "SC Committee to Preserve and Restore Historic Cemeteries"— Presentation transcript:

1 SC Committee to Preserve and Restore Historic Cemeteries
Forgotten Lives Forgotten Burials Acknowledging the Past, Restoring Dignity Dedicated to the thousands of patients who passed away & were been buried quietly & anonymously in virtually unmarked state hospital cemeteries and graves. SC Committee to Preserve and Restore Historic Cemeteries

2 Purpose We mark graves to help us remember. To be forgotten in life and then relegated to an unmarked grave is a disgraceful end, a sign of disdain and disrespect. Some where, some time, these people mattered to somebody and they should not remain forgotten. Across the country tens of thousands of patients were buried with virtually no recognition of their existence. Over the years these forgotten and neglected graves of persons who died in state psychiatric hospitals conveys a message of devaluing the people who struggled with mental illness, contributes to the burden of stigma that people still face today and perpetuates the negative image of mental illness. The purpose of this presentation is to acknowledge that history, to help erase that stigma and to honor the lives of those who bravely fought mental illness, and died in the system.

3 Format To enhance the viewer’s understanding of how thousands of people were simply forgotten, this presentation is divided into four parts: History Dealing with Death at the SC Hospital – Early Practices Forgotten Lives - Forgotten Burials Committee Creation & Achievements

4 Part One History

5 Early Theory &Treatment
The Greeks coined terms for melancholy, hysteria and phobia and developed the humorism theory. Psychiatric theories and treatments developed in Persia, Arabia and the Muslim Empire, particularly in the Medieval Islamic world from the 8th century, where the first psychiatric hospitals were built. Complex of Mansur Qalaun site of one of the earliest hospitals.

6 Early Theory &Treatment
Although mental illnesses were increasingly seen as an organic physical occurrence with no connection to the soul or moral responsibility by the end of the eighteenth century, asylum care was often harsh and treated people like wild animals.

7 Early Theory &Treatment
At the turn of the nineteenth century a new concept called Moral Therapy was taking hold. It was based on the ideas of mutual respect, that care should be kind and personal, with an emphasis on occupational therapy, religious exercises, amusements and games, and that the use of intimidation, physical violence and restraints should be avoided. It was on these ideas that the SC Asylum would be founded.

8 Founding of the Asylum Historically, “what to do” with a mentally ill person depended upon the individual’s status, domestic situation, location, and medical condition. Insanity was viewed as a private matter and family responsibility, and it was expected that family would render care or pay someone else to do it. In 1694, the Lords Proprietors of South Carolina established that the mentally ill should be cared for at public expense by local (parish a.k.a. county) governments. This form of aid fell under the concept of “Outdoor Relief” based on Elizabethan Poor Laws. It meant that if people were poor and sick and/or disabled that “poor law officers” took them in or boarded them at public expense.

9 Founding of the Asylum Mental health received little
attention at the state level until 1810 when, Colonel Samuel Farrow and Major William Crafts began to petition the South Carolina Legislature to fund a permanent lunatic asylum. According to legend, Farrow had been moved at the sight of a mentally ill woman wandering the roads in his Upcountry district. On December 20, 1821, the South Carolina State Legislature passed a statute-at-large approving $30,000 to build the S.C. Lunatic Asylum. Major William Crafts Col. Samuel Farrow

10 The Robert Mills Building corner stone was laid in 1822
Founding of the Asylum This legislation made South Carolina the third state in the nation to provide state funding for the care and treatment of people with mental illnesses. It was also the second hospital solely dedicated to mental health. The belief was that if an asylum existed to provide care families would send their relatives to the hospital for treatment. The Robert Mills Building corner stone was laid in 1822

11 Founding of the Asylum In reality, many families preferred to
care for mentally ill relatives at home. If home care was not possible families would allow their relative to live in the county jail or the work house in order to keep them nearby. Consequently, the asylum did not reach its full capacity of 192 until 1860 – more than 30 years after opening its doors. Robert Mills Building

12 Founding of the Asylum It is important to note that:
When the legislature provided funding to build the asylum it was with the understanding that the hospital would be self supporting – counties were required to pay for the transportation of the patient to the hospital and pay a annual maintenance fee for that person. The maintenance fee was never sufficient to cover costs Counties often failed to pay the fee A diagnosis of mental illness was not required to be admitted to the hospital. Person’s whose families were unable, unwilling or didn’t exist, who had dementia type illnesses, substance abuse problems, cognitive and developmental disorders/delays, had epilepsy or other seizure disorders, were deaf and/or blind or just troublesome were often admitted. The hospital was frequently used, as one person put it, “as a very convenient place for very inconvenient people”.

13 Part Two Dealing with Death at the SC Hospital – Early Practices

14 Asylum Opens When the Robert Mills building opened it was situated on the edge of the city, a single building, on four acres of land. The building that could house 192 patients also had recreation rooms, dining rooms, offices, storage space etc. It wasn’t until 1860 that the hospital reached maximum capacity. There were no plans to locate a cemetery intended for the burial of deceased patients on the grounds.

15 Early Burial The low census at the time equaled a low death rate and the Asylum relied on the kindness of family, friends or on one of six local graveyards to deal with those that had died. If family or friends requested or a patient’s religious preference was known a specific religious service and burial might be arranged to be performed in one of five church run graveyards, otherwise the Publick Graveyard was used. (note: Publick did not mean not pauper; many citizens rich and poor, black and white were buried in these cemeteries)

16 Early Burial 1828 - 1860 The six grave yards were the:
Catholic Church Yard – near today's St. Peters Church Baptist Church Yard – today’s First Baptist Church at Hampton & Sumter Streets Methodist Church Yard – today’s Washington Street United Methodist Church at Marion & Washington Streets Episcopal Church Yard – today’s Trinity Episcopal Church at Sumter & Gervais Streets Presbyterian Church Yard – today’s First Presbyterian Church at Lady & Marion Streets The 2nd “Publick” Burying Grounds - bounded by Senate, Wayne, Pendleton and Pulaski Streets

17 Changes on the Horizon After the Civil War ended in 1865, new buildings were constructed to separate both the genders and the races. Person’s of color who had been denied admittance since the mid- 1850’s were once again being accepted as patients at an alarming rate. Institutionalization was sometimes used as “legal” way to disenfranchise people based on race, ideology or both. Initially the fiscal responsibility for “ patient upkeep” was a County or Parrish duty but in the 1870’s, the State assumed the financial responsibility for the care of persons at the Asylum. The result was a population explosion, continuous overcrowding, unsanitary conditions and shortages of food, clothing and other staples.

18 The Death Toll Rises The increased population dramatically amplified patient deaths from tuberculosis, dysenteric conditions, and exhaustion in addition to the more “traditional” causes; cardiac problems, syphilis, epilepsy and kidney infections. But, by far the leading cause of death was due to Pellagra. Pellagra is caused by a diet that is insufficient in niacin. It was commonly known as the “disease of the four D’s—dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death“. Some estimate the death rate to be as high as 40%. By the 1900’s it had reached epidemic proportions in the American South. It is still one of the most common diseases in developing countries of the world or in places where there is poverty and poor nutrition.

19 Closing of the Public Cemetery
In the mid-1800’s there was a growing national movement to close and remove cemeteries from cities. In 1857, Columbia formally abandoned the “2nd Publick Cemetery” and the property was sold to the railroad to expand their freight yard. No one could recall if the bodies were re- located but reports from the time indicate that head and foot stones disappeared. Research indicates that most likely the graves and any remains laid to rest at the Publick Cemetery were destroyed after years of reuse. The freight yard gave way to railroad track relocation, followed by a HUD housing development, Vista Commons.

20 Part Three Forgotten Lives Forgotten Burials

21 The Cemeteries Patients in the hospital were separated by gender and race. Deceased patients whose remains were not claimed by family were buried in separate cemeteries according to race . There were two classifications of race: “white” and “colored”. After the closing of the “Public Cemetery” in 1857, patient remains that were not sent home for burial, were buried at one of the following cemeteries; Elmwood, Potters field (a.k.a. Lower Cemetery), Geiger Street, Slighs Ave., Pisgah Church Road, and the Memorial Gardens at Morris Village. Persons buried in these cemeteries had their final resting place marked only by a numbered stone. These “cemeteries” were never intended to have visitors, nor to have the dead memorialized or mourned. They were intended to be invisible. And for years they were…

22 Elmwood Cemetery With the “Publick Cemetery,” closing the Asylum had to look at other options for burying deceased patients. A committee looking into the matter was ordered to cost out the purchase of property large enough for the burial of 200 souls or about 2 acres of land. Opened in 1854, Elmwood was considered the replacement cemetery for most Columbians. The Asylum eventually purchased two plots of land at the cemetery around 1856. The Asylum struck an agreement with Elmwood that “allowed land use on a per-patient basis”. The charge was $10.00 for a pay patient and $5.00 for a charity patient.

23 Elmwood Section 41 Section 41 is located very near the
entrance of the cemetery. It is believed that this section was used from approximately 1856 to 1907 for the burial of white patients only, although the actual location of the graves and identity of the individuals buried there isn’t known. The section is still owned by the Department of Mental Health and is the planned site for a memorial commemoration of the lives of former patients. Section 41 Elmwood Gardens was established in 1854 and is the final resting place for some of SC’s most famous citizens.

24 Elmwood Section 41 There are virtually no grave markers and the land is eroded in section 41, yet all around are the markers, monuments, and statues of people buried next to them. Site for Memorial

25 Elmwood Section 80 Property Border
with Elmwood Very little is known about section 80 except that it sat on the western edge of the Elmwood property. Purchased prior to section 41, it was abandoned because it was deemed to be “too far away” from the entrance for easy use. It remained in use for the burial of black patients until the land was sold to Randolph Cemetery in Patient burials continued in this section and in Potters Field a.k.a. the Lower Cemetery until 1908 when property on the Hospital grounds, later to become known as Slighs Ave., was used. Randolph, an African American cemetery, was established in 1871 and expanded in 1899. Randolph was named in memory of B.F. Randolph, an African American who served as a senator in the South Carolina Legislature during Reconstruction.

26 Lower Cemetery/Potters Field
The “Lower Cemetery” was used by Columbia for over a century.  During that time, an estimated 5,000 to 8,000 burials took place. In addition to mental health patients, both rich and poor, blacks and whites were buried here. The cemetery, neglected for years, has come back into focus recently. Steps to have it placed on the National Register have begun – in part to keep the land from being commercially developed into town homes. The dips in the soil are indicators of sunken graves

27 Locations Sec. 41, 80, & Potters Field
North Sec. 80 Potters field Sec. 41

28 Slighs Avenue By 1909-1910 “colored” patients
were no longer being buried in either Randolph or the Lower Cemetery but in what would come to be called Slighs Ave. - the first cemetery to exist on the grounds of the Bull Street property. It was used until 1922 and as many as 2,300 patients could have been buried there. It is owned by the City of Columbia and was developed into a golf driving range. Marker placed by City of Columbia Net erected by the city to keep golf balls off the grave sites

29 Geiger Street Around 1915, white patients were
buried in a section of property that would become to be known as the Geiger Street or Cotton Town Cemetery . This would be the second and last cemetery on the Bull Street property. Approximately1000 former patients were buried here until the cemetery closed in 1954 and burials for white patients began at the Pisgah Church Road site. It is unique that there is a confederate soldiers cemetery within the larger plot (for more info follow link). Marker placed by DMH Confederate Graveyard within Geiger

30 Funeral shed where “services” where conducted
Pisgah Church Road The cemetery known as Pisgah Church Road opened 1954 and closed in 1965. It is actually located just off Pisgah Church on Powell Road and is situated behind the Pisgah United Methodist Church Cemetery. It is believed that approximately 150 people were buried there. Funeral shed where “services” where conducted at Pisgah

31 The Memorial Gardens at Morris Village
Morris Village Cemetery has been in continuous use since 1922, and until 1966 received only non-white patients. It is located directly beside the Farrow Road facility, has the most "organization" in that almost all stones are visible, and intact. The grounds are fenced in, with an entrance and monument. Alongside this cemetery is a smaller fenced-in cemetery believed to be the resting place of Department of Disabilities and Special Needs people. Of the 2159 people buried there before 1986, 2,097 have been identified. Entrance to the Cemetery

32 The Memorial Gardens at Morris Village
Markers at the Entrance of the Cemetery

33 The Memorial Gardens at Morris Village
The stones are level with the ground giving the appearance of large empty field but approximately 2500 people are buried here.

34 Part Four Committee Creation & Achievements

35 Committee to Preserve and Restore Historic Cemeteries
In June of 2000, the Committee to Preserve & Protect Historic Cemeteries was established. It was one of a dozen or so nation-wide projects. The committees mission and goals have evolved over time. Mission - To support the SCDMH Recovery Initiative by locating the burial grounds of former patients, identifying those persons and recognizing that to do this acknowledges and honors them and becomes a valuable symbol promoting hope, healing and recovery to persons served in public mental health systems of care today as well as to the thousands that came before us and the thousands yet to come.

36 Committee to Preserve and Restore Historic Cemeteries
Goals: Restore and preserve artifacts, records, monuments, headstones, and grave markers of those buried in historically-significant cemeteries. Preserve, and provide access to, informational resources related to historically-significant cemeteries that facilitate the location of the deceased by families and clients. Develop brochures that inform and educate the public about the history of mental illness and the memorialization of the deceased. Publish historical information regarding patient deaths and burials for use by genealogists and historians. Establish a monument to recognize those unnamed citizens of the State of South Carolina who were buried in these cemeteries. Establish procedures for family members to honor the deaths of loved ones with the placement of a grave marker.

37 Achievements – Database
In the summer of 2010, a database honoring former patients buried by the State Hospital was completed. Names, numbers and locations were matched going back to 1893, the earliest date for which burial records could be found. Inclusion in the database erred on the side of caution. Unless the disposition of the deceased was clearly indicated in the records as buried by family or some other organization the name was included. It contains the names of some 9,500+ individuals who died while a patient at the SC State Hospital and/or individuals in the custody of other agencies, for example the Tubercular Hospital at State Park or residents of the Confederate Veterans Home. A copy of the data base has been turned over to the Department Of Archives and History and was converted into a searchable program for public use. The data base is available through the Richland County SC Public Library

38 Achievements – Grave marker procedure
A policy has been developed, and is awaiting final approval for the procedure to place a formal marker with a name and/or replace a numbered marker. Numbered Markers at Pisgah Early slate markers at Geiger

39 Achievements Clean-Up
The Pisgah Church Road Cemetery was in disgraceful condition when it was located. The property, no longer owned by the Department of Mental Health, was being used as a garbage dump. It was difficult to drive into or view the funeral shed as the property was so over grown. SC DMH clients and staff worked together to clear away the garbage, remove overgrown shrubs, bushes and weeds. Grave markers were located and exposed, stepping stones and a small fence and gateway were added leading to the graves.

40 Pisgah Before Clean up Pisgah Church Cemetery was completely overgrown.  It sat off the road and in no way identified itself as a cemetery.

41 Same view after clean up
Pisgah After Clean-Up Same view after clean up

42 Building where the funeral services were held
Pisgah Before Clean Up Building where the funeral services were held

43 Same view after clean-up
Pisgah Before After Up Same view after clean-up

44 Pisgah Before Some of the committee members look for any sign of markers that would identify persons who were buried in the cemetery. 

45 Pisgah After

46 Pisgah The wooden frame was used to
outline the sized of grave to ensure the coffin would fit. It is now possible to drive into the cemetery.

47 Memorial Plan Elmwood Cemetery
One goal is to restore & preserve artifacts, records, monuments, headstones. One of five marked graves in the cemetery, the name, Johanna Harden, is barley visible. Site for Memorial

48 Memorial Plan Elmwood Cemetery
DEDICATED IN LOVING MEMORY TO THE THOUSANDS OF PATIENTS WHO LIVED AND DIED ANONYMOUSLY AT THE SOUTH CAOLINA STATE HOSPITAL The stigma of mental illness has been so great that there was a time when thousands of people who passed away while a patient at the State Hospital were buried quietly and anonymously in virtually unmarked cemeteries and graves. Since opening its doors in 1828 until 1985, a person’s final resting place was marked only by a number in one of six cemeteries: Elmwood Potter Field Geiger Street Slighs Avenue Pisgah Church Road Morris Village. Materials List: Marker & Plaque 2 Curved Benches Ground Cover Coping Headstone Restoration

49 Memorial Plan Elmwood Cemetery
Tree Oak Tree Where Memorial is to be centered Bench Plaque Elmwood Cemetery Memorial Plans

50 References Dealing with Death: The Use and Loss of Cemeteries by the SC State Hospital in Columbia, SC, Chicora Research Contribution 316, January 17, 2001 Randolph Cemetery, South Carolina Department of Archives and History /index.htm Columbia’s Scandal Lower Cemetery SC, Chicora Research Contribution 521, December 2009 Lower Cemetery (Potter's Field #3) Richland County, SC A Small Sample of Burials at Randolph Cemetery: What their Stories Tell Us About The Cemeteries and African American Life in Columbia, Chicora Research Contribution 461, February 5, 2007 The Penitentiary Cemetery, Columbia, South Carolina, Chicora Research Contribution 509, February 2009 Caring for Patients’ Graves Helps Hospitals Reconcile With Living, Kate Mulligan, Psychiatric News August 3, 2001 Volume 36 Number 15 Page 10

51 References History of the South Carolina Department of Mental Health
South Carolina Department of Mental Health Celebrates 175th Anniversary Comparing the Mental Health of the Past to the Mental Health of the Present The Georgia Story: How to Successfully Restore a State Hospital Cemetery, A technical assistance manual funded by the federal Center for Mental Health Services December 1999 It's About Time: Discovering, Recovering and Celebrating Psychiatric Consumer/Survivor History. Larry Fricks for the Georgia Consumer Council January 2004

52 THANK YOU To locate the burial site of a family member, please
contact Katherine Roberts with SCDMH Office of Client Affairs at (803) To make a donation toward the cemetery preservation effort, please contact Anita Baker, Committee Chair at the Mental Health Association in South Carolina at (803) Committee to Preserve and Restore Historic Cemeteries

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