Dec 082010

Eastern State Hospital and Kentucky State Archives blocking access to death and burial records for ESH cemetery

By Bruce Burris

Founder, Eastern State Hospital Cemetery Preservation Project

Eight summers ago, directly behind the Hope Center, on Eastern State Hospital (ESH) property, I blundered onto a small wildly overgrown space surrounded by a broken chain link fence. I knew it to be a cemetery only because a man mowing grass on a property nearby allowed that it was when I asked. He also mentioned that he thought there were over 2,000 people buried there, a number that was beyond my ability to really grasp. Somewhat ironically, I was only there in the first place because I was searching for an appropriate space to start a community garden.

Since that day, it has been established that this tiny spot, not much larger than a typical middle class backyard, contains the remains of between 4,000 and 7,000 people — mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, politicians, shopkeepers, farmers … humans. Further, these numbers do not include the remains of the many thousands more we believe to be scattered throughout the original ESH property.

A Mass Grave

Local leaders and many others have referred to this as a “mass grave,” and they are entirely correct. Of the remains in the cemetery area, only three have been positively identified. Unfortunately, due to neglect and mishandling, it is unlikely many more will be identified. Many remains have been dug up and reburied at least three times; other remains have been entirely destroyed or further blended together by blasting. Recently Phil Tkacz, ESH Cemetery Preservation Project President, was planting tulip bulbs and came across what we believe to be a human vertebra within about six inches of ground level. This contradicts what we, the ESH Cemetery Preservation Project, have always been told: that the reburials were five to eight feet deep.

Bone believed to be a human vertebra found at ESH. Photo by Phil Tkacz.

It is ESH Cemetery Preservation Project’s feeling that there are likely tens of thousands more buried throughout the original ESH acreage, extending as far as what is now Lexmark. Such is true of many other state hospital cemeteries around the country of similar size with a similar timeline. In fact, we have just recently spotted an area that we believe may be an African-American cemetery in another part of the ESH grounds.

At the current cost of between $5,000 – $10,000 per reburial, is it any wonder the state is not too concerned with helping us and living relatives locate graves? Do the math yourself: 10,000 reburials x $10,000 = well, let’s just call that an uncomfortable sum.

A spate of recent national media has focused attention on somewhat similar conditions within the Arlington National Cemetery (though on a much smaller scale). Articles in the Washington Post have examined the loss or misplacement of perhaps thousands of remains in the Arlington National Cemetery. We regard Arlington National Cemetery as an important patriotic symbol, and those who are interred there are considered to be heroic. This is a tragic story, but since the public outcry, officials at least seem to be scurrying to amend this appalling situation.

The same cannot be said for most of the hundreds of thousands buried on state hospital grounds around the United States, though those numbers do, of course, include many military veterans.

Access to Records

At best, there are state hospital cemeteries that have excellent death and burial records and allow citizens unimpeded access to them. Many others have well-marked graves or, lacking markers, reasonable coordinates. However, there are many state hospitals with poor records and few marked graves. But to our knowledge, Eastern State Hospital stands alone for its overall lack of marked graves and, most importantly, the continual denial and rude disregard of relatives and concerned citizens who wish to have access to what records might exist.

The ESH Cemetery Preservation Project has been working for access to the records: “The issue about records concerning the death or burial of patients has been the most frustrating thing by far,” Tkacz said.

“Relatives have to fight an uphill battle to get records of deceased, even those that died over 100 years ago,” Tkacz continued. “Even if they manage to get someone to talk to them, there is a court fee to get copies of the records. Some relatives have been treated rudely over the phone when they call medical records at the hospital. I know first hand.”

“I have personally been trying for three years to get access to a list of names for those that died or were buried at ESH. I get different stories depending who I talk to. Sometimes they say no records like that exist or the HIPAA excuse. The most recent is that I have to get a court order to get permission to view any old records,” Tkacz said.

These records are all over 50 years old, the last burial being in the 1950s (most are over 100 years old), and we believe not to be subject to privacy regulations set forth under The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Phil Tkacz in ESH cemetery with grid showing where 4,000 bodies were reburied. Photo by Bruce Burris.

Tkacz and genealogist Mary Hatton, along with a handful of others, have worked tirelessly to provide relatives with information about those presumed buried on the grounds. Hatton alone has recovered records, often from ancient newspaper obituaries and similar unofficial records, identifying over 1,000 people who died while at ESH. They have also worked towards creating a more dignified landscape within the cemetery area.

With Bluegrass Community and Technical College transitioning to this property, there is optimism that, at the very least, the cemetery area will be improved. In fact, progress along these lines can be seen. Recently $61,000 was earmarked for cemetery landscape improvements which should be completed late this autumn.

But a larger problem remains: the total lack of access to death and burial records which are housed in the archives of Bluegrass Regional Mental Health and Mental Retardation and in the State Archives. Though the ESH Preservation Project is considering a civil suit as requests for records and information have been continually denied, it would be much healthier for all, especially relatives who are still coming to terms with the degrading circumstances of their loved ones’ burials, if all could agree to work through this together.  Many other state hospitals have done just that.

Q & A with Bruce Burris, founder and member of the ESH Cemetery Preservation Project

Q: Essentially, as you tell it , you stumbled upon a mass grave.  What has this experience been like for you?

BB: There is an air of unreality – we get used to the idea of mass graves through the media, but I really only thought of a mass grave in terms of other: other continents, other people. Initially, I was very apprehensive and a little scared. The scale of the site was daunting – a relatively small space in which thousands were recently reburied and already forgotten.

For the first year or so, I kept the information about the cemetery pretty much to myself. This was mostly for selfish reasons: I wasn’t sure what, if anything, I should or could do about it. I’m an atheist, but I admit to feeling a kind of responsibility to, and love for, those souls. I can only imagine the kind of suffering many experienced during their lifetimes.

Over time, I did a bit of research and found that state hospital cemeteries were being researched by organizations in other states. That information was comforting. Also, another thing happened that I could not have predicted; it turned out that those buried at ESH had relatives who were alive and wanted information about their loved ones.

These factors convinced me to advertise a general meeting for all those who might be interested in researching and restoring the cemetery.  Thankfully Phil, our ESH Preservation Project president and Mary Hatton, our genealogist, were at the first meeting.

Q: The ESH Cemetery Preservation Project keeps asserting that there are most likely many more thousands buried throughout ESH’s current and former property. Why?

BB: Of course we cannot answer definitely as we have not been allowed access to records. Initially we were told that there were about 2,000 buried in the current cemetery. We now can account for about 4,000 and believe there may be as many as 7,000.

Our estimate of tens of thousands still buried throughout the original grounds is based on numbers which are shared by other state hospitals of similar size, etc. In these instances, numbers ranging from 20,000 to 60,000 are not uncommon – and remember ESH is the second oldest mental hospital in the country.

The “current” cemetery (the one I stumbled upon) was created in the 1970s and consists of graves moved in the 1950s from what was IBM (and is currently Lexmark) and from the Loudon Street extension which was constructed in the 1970s. It was during the construction of this road that a significant number of remains were found. These included at least some of the remains which were recovered at the IBM site just a few years before, reburied, and eventually forgotten in an area in which the Loudon Street Extension was planned and constructed.

In a span of just a few years, those graves were completely forgotten and shamefully only came to light during blasting for the road, during which bystanders were showered with bits of bone and fabric. These remains were then moved to the current cemetery which was created to hold bodies found elsewhere, in effect mixing many remains. Some bodies have been buried at least three times.

For more information, visit the Eastern State Hospital Cemetery Preservation Project on Facebook or The Forgotten: The Eastern State Hospital Project at

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  50 Responses to “Tomb of the unknowns”

  1. God bless you and Mary Hatton and all connected to this project. I have tried since 1984 to retrive my Grandfathers records who died in 1907 and have been told I will never find the records as the hospital does not want people to know how patients were buried there!

  2. I pray that you are able to get those records released. I contacted the hospital a couple of years ago and was told it would take at least three or more months to locate the records. That’s as far as I got. I have been trying to obtain the records of a relative named Nannie E. Larkin who died in 1937. Census records show she lived at the East State Hospital.

    Thank you for all of your work!

  3. My great uncle Henry F. Soard died there 29 May 1941. There is no record of his burial so it is assumed he was buried on the grounds.

    • I came across a short list of burials, 1941-1956 & Henry is listed. Henry Soard was buried May 30, 1941 in grave #96. He was patient #27939. He was most likely in second cemetery about where the YMCA is now & moved to the current cemetery. I think the comments left here by relatives bolsters what we’ve been saying for years. The state, for whatever reason, refuses to release records.

  4. My uncle died at ESH and was buried there in 1931. I found his death certificate at the state Archives. We can’t undo the disgraceful handling of human remains at the hospital, but it would seem appropriate for the state to erect a memorial for the unknowns who are buried there with the names and dates of those who are known. New names could be added when identified and verified.

  5. Here is a reply to this article which came via our ESH Cemetery email- thought I’d share it. Bruce
    “I am a granddaughter of J…….. who died at the hospital in 1946. I have been in contact with Mary Hatton for several years off and on. The latest was about the ability to get records of our person for 53.00 and I was interested in that. I understand that they will not tell you what is in the packet of info and so you are buying a package that may only contain the death record, which I already have. I am not able to pay the $53 and so they will not tell me. I didn’t want to do that unless I knew there was something in it that I do not know about. That is my frustration. I even called the records person who is in the genealogy department and after talking to her, I never heard anymore from her. She evidently got too busy. but I can’t keep calling long distance either. So, I am not able to go any further….Thanks”

  6. Thanks to Mary Hatton I discovered that my grandfather REALLY did die at the Hospital; thanks to the Ky State Archives I was able to obtain his death record, and to Pike co., Ky where I learned why he was in the State Hospital, and how he died. However, I have not learned where another relative is buried who lived at the hospital for about 25-30 years and died there.

    Thanks you for the awareness.

  7. My great-grandfather passed away at ESH in 1933 and is buried on the grounds (Potter’s Field?). It took several months of contact, but I was able to get his medical records for $53. Mary Hatton was a wonderful help to me.

  8. While researching the ancestors of my half sister I was told her grandfather disappeared in 1910, and was never heard from again. I found my sisters grandfather listed in the 1913 deaths at Eastern State Hospital, he was buried there as well.
    The children of this man never knew what happened to their father. They were told by their mother that he left to find a job and would return to get them. As days turned to weeks and weeks to months, his small children couldn’t understand why their father never returned. Did he become ill or die along the steep mountainous roads? did he not want them, is that why he never returned? These questions remained unanswered for the life span of each child.
    The grandchildren of this man would like to visit his grave and in some way try to make amends for the lost years and lies.
    Sadly, this can not happen as burial records will not be released and another generation is left to deal with the questions of, where is he? what happened to him?

  9. The hospital had a large rotating card file for each person who was a patient at the hospital. I know that tis existed in 1976. Those cards told if someone died in the hospital. I am unsure if they listed if they were buried on the grounds. These cards did not have any medical information on them. Access to them should not be as hard to get as medical records.

  10. My Mother knew nothing much of her father that left the family due to circumstances. Her father Thomas Poff Jr was never talked about because he died in an insane asylum. I got his death certificate & it says he died of Pellagra in 1917 & was buried on the grounds of Eastern State Hospital.

    I asked a cousin in Lexington to take a picture of the grounds so I would at least be able to see them. She wrote back & sent articles about them destroying the graves when they put the road thru.

    My poor Grandfather was misunderstood in life then sent to an insane asylum because of a medical problem, and finally wasn’t able to “rest in peace” thanks to Bureaucracy.

    I was floored when I learned that after all that was done to these poor souls they couldn’t even keep the grass mowed, and I thought that was the final disgrace. But not to allow you to go thru the records compounds the indignities.

    My thanks to ALL of you in this group who are fighting the good fight for those like my Grandfather. A special thanks to Mary Hatton who helped me get the scant paperwork of his stay there.

    I would like to thank everyone for their wonderful comments. I have a comment that I received:

    Dec. 2, 2010
    Dear Mary,
    Thank you for the death index info. I made a call to the Med Records dept of EKH and actually heard back from them today. Mr G. was a patient there from 1928 until 1949. The problem they have is that his records cannot be found. When the new hospital opened a lot of the records were “lost”. So looks like I wont find out any medical history. Well at least I would like to know why he was in there for so long.

    Well wishes your way. K.

    Dec. 2, 2010
    The new hospital has not started to be built as of today. The records are in Frankfort, Ky. at the Library of Archives. Try calling them again & that you e-mailed me & what I said.

    The Medical Records are no longer are willing to help relatives BUT don’t give up. Just tell them you know the ground has not been broken for the new hospital. And all old records are in Libaries of Archives in Frankfort, Ky. Anyone has my ok to use my name/or e-mail me: I am here at home & will answer any & all questions.

    The website has a total new make over. One new item is a Patient Register: You all can use the form to add your relative.
    Mary Hatton

    I would like to thank everyone for their kind remarks.
    I had a relative to tell me recently that the Medical Records state person that that numerous patient medical records were lost in moving to the new hospital BUT the truth is the ground has not been broken as of today. All former patient medical records are in the Libraries of Archives in Frankfort, Ky. If you all get the same comment please tell the medical records person this is not correct & feel free to use my name/or e-mail me:
    The ESH website has had total make over. We now have a patient register. The patient can be used for patients buried on the grounds or buried elsewhere.
    Mary Hatton

  13. My story with ESH is a little different from most.

    Both my g-g-g-grandmother, Alice (Hunt) Kaut, and her brother, Howard Hunt, were both committed to ESH at different times in the late 1800s and both died there. We believe they both suffered from melancholia/depression.

    When Alice died in 1909 and was buried at ESH, her children had a headstone placed and covered her grave in concrete with the knowledge that they would not be able to visit Lexington to care for her grave (her children lived in Greenup County, KY). They took a photo of her grave and this image was passed down through the generations along with the simple story that our Alice was buried at the asylum in Lexington.

    My mother, Patricia (Boyle) Hoke was conducting family research in the early 1980s and knew Alice was buried at ESH. When she visited, she was told there wasn’t a cemetery on the property. She showed the representative the photo of Alice’s grave and representative continued to insist there was no cemetery on the grounds. Mom knew that wasn’t the case and never gave up trying to find our dear Alice.

    In 1984, Mom finally located Alice’s grave when land was sold to IBM. IBM paid to have Alice (Hunt) Kaut’s remains relocated which included a new coffin, flowers and a hearse. My mother assembled our family and on a cold November day we brought Alice home to rest next to her daughter’s grave in our family cemetery.

    We have never been able to locate Alice’s brother’s grave (Howard Hunt) and we haven’t given up hope that we will be able to bring him home to rest, too.

    I’ve heard that patients’ bodies were donated to local schools for medical teaching/studies. What has happened to Howard Hunt? I want to know where his final resting place is with certainty, to be able to place flowers and honor his memory.

    I’ve taken the steps to become the administratix of Alice’s estate in an attempt to locate her patient records. I’m particularly interested in these records for our family’s health, but also for our family’s history.

    After all of these years, I have STILL not been able to obtain Alice’s records, but I’ll never give up.

    I’ve never met Alice (she died in 1909) or been able to find a photo of her, but she is as real to me as any person. I’ve heard and researched her life for many years. In a way, Alice and Howard have haunted me — I feel that telling their story is a way to honor their memories and ease the suffering. As a descendant, I feel a responsibility to understand and preserve their history. Alice and Howard were someone’s children, someone’s parents, someone’s spouses and siblings to one another…they meant something very deeply to many people, including me.

    My family’s history should not be kept from me. They MATTER to me and their lives are no less important than any other. I will always stand up for my family.

    Who has the right to keep their stories hidden or charge their descendants for family information that is their birthright?

    I’ve kept close watch for information on ESH and the Cemetery Preservation Project over the years. I cannot thank this group (and Mary Hatton in particular) for their diligence.

  14. I had already given up on this Cemetery. When Mary Hatton, was kind enough to help me. She shared w/me what she could & placed a record on Findagrave, for my Great Aunt America “DePew” Hacker. Thank you to each one that is trying. God bless.
    Carl E. DePew
    Largo, Florida

  15. Mary, Bruce, and all,

    The horrific treatment of these poor souls breaks my heart. I was visiting a relative of a friend at the EKH in the early 1970’s and even then it was heartbreaking seeing how the numerous patients were put in a small room together with hardly enough chairs to accomidate them all.

    The 1940 census will be out in a year or two. The hospital patients should be listed hopfully. More leads?

    Your goal is very important and not going unnoticed. When and if you come to Frankfort to dig for records I’d be honored to help. I don’t have any pull at the Ky Dept of Libraries and Archives but I’ll be behind you all the way.

  16. I should have mentioned that each county government should have kept a book called something like ‘Lunacy Records”. I’ve seen the one on Perry Co at the Ky Archives in Frankfort. This was several years ago but it stated why and when a person was declared insane by the courts and where they were sent for “treatmant”.

  17. I recently found my husband’s g g grandfather on the 1870 census. He was a patient there. He died bet 1870 – 1880 I believe. We never knew he was there. His name was Jessie Staples. I cannot go further until I can locate his records. I wish I knew what to do next if they will not help us. Thanks for all you are doing. This is a disgrace how they were treated. The least they could do now is to give info so the families know what happened.

  18. Information about the deaths and burials of persons in various “asylums” should be made available. A veil of secrecy and a wall of silence does not give the deceased, and their relatives, the respect they are due.

  19. I applaud Mary, Bruce and Phil for all their efforts to restore “peace and dignity” to these many individuals who “because of an illness” that “no one wanted to talk about” ~ were forgotten!

    I have several family members with severe mental illness, (SMI) diagnoses. It is unimaginable that only a few decades ago, they would have been locked away in a place where medical providers would recommend I not visit. Even today, medical providers often counsel family members to set up healthy boundaries and abandon their loved ones ~ since due to a KY law, they are allowed to become so ill the family is often at a loss on how to help their sick loved ones who suffer with these serious brain diseases.

    We often hear that Kentucky is a leading the country in the treatment of heart disease and cancer ~ but when it comes to serious mental illness ~ we are on the bottom side of the US! This is one example of how our KRS 202a impacts lives across Kentucky:

    Regardless, I have admired Bruce Burris’ crusade to not only locate the names of the dead at Eastern State Hospital, but also for his passion to embrace “all individuals” with disabilities. He has dedicated his life to helping individuals less fortunate, accel to their full potential. Our world would be a better place if we had “more individuals” like Bruce, Mary and Phil!

    For all that feel pain for the souls society failed in the past 186 years ~ please be aware that “society” in Kentucky is still failing this population of people! For more information on how you can “also” help “the living” or so people with SMI can have timely accessibility to treatment, supportive services and housing, please educate yourself on how your tax dollars are being used. In 2010, due to our “least restricted mental health laws” too many with SMI are now homeless or live in our jails/prisons. Too often, state funding in directed into the Department of Corrections where it cost the state approximately $30,000 a year to house a person with SMI. Often these individuals are NOT violent criminals, but become a victim of their own illness ~ called the “revolving door!” Too often they end up in prison because they are not able to access treatment much less abide by rules/regulations of their probation or parole.

    Essentially, the laws in Kentucky make a person who has no use of their legs, “run a marathon” to access a wheelchair ~ in terms how we expect a person with a serious brain disease to wade through a chaotic maze to receive the bare bones of something that resembles treatment.

    I wish I could help Bruce’s efforts more, but someone needs to advocate for amendments to KY law, so those with SMI receive treatment while they are alive. We failed them in the late 1800’s, early 1900’s and yet even with all the modern advancement in science and technology we are still failing this population.

    For more info please join this blog:

  20. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Pastology, Pastology. Pastology said: Reading: Tomb of the Unkowns – Preserving the Eastern State Hospital #Cemetery […]

  21. I should point out this is a problem with other state hospitals in Ky. Western State Hospital & the former Central State Hospital property. The cemeteries for those hospitals are also mostly unmarked & they refuse to give records to those that request them. The cemetery at the old Kentucky State Hospital has headstones, but I haven’t been there to confirm that, it’s now the Northpoint prison. The state hospitals as a whole in Kentucky have a horrible track record sadly. Although our group is Eastern State Hospital Cemetery Preservation Project, we plan on taking on all state hospital cemeteries.

  22. I want to thank Mary Hatton for the work you are doing to help us along this trail.
    You said to be patient an I am , its been 4mos, but what really amaze me when you call they lady is never there always out , somewhere I hope she is looking for records of other family members. But who knows for sure. My Aunt was not buried there, but had lived there for 25yrs & died there. I just wish they would return your calls……One time they did say they found records but something didnt look right , like there was some other records somewhere.This family has been so hard to fine & trace, just like to fine some closeure.
    Thank you all again for your work..

  23. I got a court order so many years ago that I don’t remember the date to get the records of my 4th great grandmother Judith Rogers Applegate and only received an acknowledgement that they received it and would do a records search. We have never received the records nor have we hear from them again. She died there sometime after the 1870 census. My wife had a great grandmother that died at Western State Hospital in 1953 (checked in Dec 1913) and all she had to do was ask for a copy of the records and they were given to her with a picture of her standing in front of the hospital. Right down to temperature charts and all the interviews and all the letters written to the family trying to get someone to come and get her out because she didn’t belong there. Quite a difference between the two hopsitals. Wondering where to turn to now that the court order was ineffective.

  24. This was a very nice article. If I can do anything to help I will. I have not been able to make the meetings because I live several miles north of Louisville, KY. My G Gma too died in this hospital and was buried there at Eastern State Hospital. I have tried to get records of why she was there but was told I needed a court order. I wanted to see what she looked like. I thought they would surely have a picture of her. It makes me very sad to think what has happened to my G Gma and others resting place. I wanted to come and find my G Gma’s stone but that will never happen because of whatever was did or covered up or something. I am just so sad by all the things found out about that place. The picture of above bone made me just shiver to think that could be my G Gma. I am so deeply hurt. I did not grow up in Kentucky but my Dad, Gpa, G Gpa’s GG Gpa and GGG Gpa were either born, lived, and or settled there. I love the state of Kentucky but surely since this it is the year 2011 soon there is something they can do to help us with this.
    Please let me know what I can do to help.

  25. i feel so bad for the familys of the people that are barried at that god awful hospital. i was a patient there for two months and broke out AWOL because the staff there treat people so in humainly. they make jokes about the patients there and make them take pills that they dont want to take but force them on em. so i can only emagine what those poor souls had to go through. may they rest in peace.

  26. I am a granddaughter of both my maternal gggrandfather and paternal ggranmother who died at ESH. He had lost his wife in childbirth and was left with 3 young children to raise. My ggrandmother had lost a child and was going thru menopause. Both of these problems were met with living and dying at ESH. After reading this artical I say it is time for a “letter to the editor”. I can not believe we are living in the mist of a mass grave and very little are not screaming at the state for answers.

  27. I need to obtain records from Central State Hospital for two relatives: my great grandmother and her nephew.

    The hospital’s website says it is possible to obtain records only for a direct relative…

    Is that the case with ESH too? And if so,
    how strong does the proof need to be? 😉

    Thanks, j

  28. Just want to say I wish you all the luck in the world fighting any type govt., anywhere in the US. It’s not fair to be denied knowledge about ancestors who’s health may affect your own! If we could find out what relatives died from, we may be able to deter dying from the same thing!

  29. I stumbled across this website while doing research on the Willliamsburg Eastern State Asylum, which is the oldest, and I think the same things are happening here. I had found the potters field for our hospital and only in 1986 did they put up a memorial monument for those who passed and on that wall are the names of at least 4-5,000 names! The plot might be an acre. Truely sad.. For a thought.. maybe if the hos wont give records maybe the least they could do is something simliar to what our hospital did for those lost souls. Just a thought. Good luck on your mission!

    • Thanks for the information Jackie! Sadly it seems Kentucky is far behind the rest of the nation when it comes to admitting their mistakes & honoring the deceased. We’re currently closer to erecting a similar memorial.

  30. Just wanted to say thank you to all concerned for all your hard work to identify the lost and help the living find their families. I found one distant relative of my husband’s there, but of course, no further information. I will keep track of this blog, and your efforts and pray that you all succeed in your quest for the truth. Thank you again.

  31. I am searching for my g,g,g,grandmother who was admitted to the ESH sometime in or after 1951. Relatives do not know her first name, but her last name was Locey,and that can be spelled many ways,Losey,lacey,etc. I have been unable to find her mentioned even on a census. I have been putting my family tree together and have hit a brick wall. She is said to have walked into the Ohio River with my g,g,grandfather,Murvin Locey in an attempt to drown them both. I believed she suffered from post-partam depression. He was born in 1851,and died in 1929. I have not been able to find brothers or sisters of Murvin Locey,so I believe he may have been an only child. I do not know Murvins Locey’s father’s name either. I need to find this information. I found this space when looking for Hospital records and I applaud your efforts!!!!Thank you so much!

  32. My grandfather died at ESH in 1934. His name was James Seagraves. I found out
    after my mother had passed away, when I started researching his life that he was buried there. I wanted to find his grave. They have the record of his death, but do not know where in the cemetary he is buried. He may be among the many others that were placed in the mass grave. I hope someday I can read his name on the list that is being compiled of the ones who died there. Keep up the good work.

    • Clara,
      James is likely buried in the “known” cemetery after having been moved from the IBM property, his death certificate only states he was buried at the hospital. Most of the burials after about 1900 were located and moved. The ones before that are the ones we suspect are the missing graves.

  33. i pat riddle i have a aunt mannie million i been look for year she was at the state hospital in danvillie ky they transferred to eastern state hospital in lexgngton ky no one in family no not one thing our just till me i woud love out happan to my aunt mannie million she live danvillie ky till she got sick born 1896 1900 i hope one day i will fine something out one day it hard for me out to much out i live sc if any thing they 122 kathryn st marietta sc 29661 hope some on e let no some thing one day i want stop till i fine out god bless the is people help with this thank you pat riddle

  34. Phil Tkacz, would you please contact me via email at I live in Delaware and am currently working on a cemetery restoration project at Delaware State Hospital (now the Delaware Psychiatric Center). The cemetery at DSH is undisturbed, and people buried there (including employees of the hospital as well as other community members, in addition to patients) were identified by granite markers with numbers on them. There is a registry that tells who is buried under each marker. One of the projects I am doing is transcribing the hand-written cemetery ledger into a searchable database. However, I am not allowed to release any information to anyone due to HIPAA regulations. I am trying to find out from various other groups in different states how they were able to circumvent HIPAA in order to erect monuments that list the names of all the people buried at the state hospital cemeteries. I’ve been told that HIPAA applies indefinitely into the past, yet some states even have their cemetery records listed on line. I’ve written to a number of people working on preservation committees, but have yet to get any replies. I’d like to know the status of the preservation project at Eastern State Hospital. Thank you for your time and attention. Kathy Dettwyler

  35. Thank You for checking on James Seagraves for me. I do have a copy of
    his death certificate, but was hoping to find out where he is located in the

    Clara Cassell

  36. My great grandmother, Bridget McGlone , died at Eastern State Asylum in 1896. I have not been able to locate her grave. I would like to know if she was buried on the hospital grounds, or if she is buried somewhere else.

    Thank you for any help you may give me.

  37. I had a grand father… Richard Carroll who was at Eastern State Hospital last known of in the 1970’s if anyone knows any info about him or grave site please reply… thanks

    • Stephanie,
      He likely isn’t buried at ESH, the last burial we know of was in 1952. According to the SSDI, he died in 1973 but doesn’t state where he is buried. You can obtain a copy of the death certificate to get the place of burial or attempt to contact the hospital to start the process of getting copies of his records.

  38. Hello Bruce, My name is Karen Porter, I recently discovered my great grandmother Mary E. (Cloud) Robbins born Aug, 1884 death Apr 6, 1931, this is the info I found (She was a patient at Eastern State for 3 months when she died from general tuberculosis due to manic depressive psychosis and buried in the asylum cemetery the following day. This is where I am so confused on the previous statement “she died from general tuberculosis due to manic depressive psychosis” I am trying to find out what factor manic depressive psychosis had to due with tuberculosis. Now after reading what you wrote, you mean she is buried in a massive grave, not one to herself? Would you have any information on how they treated mentally ill people back in 1931?

    • Karen,
      Your great-grandmother is likely buried in the large “mass grave” that is the cemetery behind the Hope Center. She died in 1931, so her originally grave was the area next to where the YMCA is on Loudon Ave. In some areas of the cemetery the remains are buried on top of each other, the state was trying to save space. As far as treatments in 1931, they didn’t have much. I would guess she was probably kept in the TB building, not so much for treatment for it but to prevent other patients from getting it. There is a process to try obtain records, you can email me if you want that info.

  39. Great work. Keep up the great work! Let’s just pray that the new Hospital recently built at Newtown, Coldstream Research in Lexington learns the lessons from the old Eastern State Hospital and maintains better records!

  40. have questions about my great grandmother bertha allen. death certificate states 8-10- 1933. I need to know and have copies of anything in her file. letters, contacts. where she is buried. death states pulmonary turburculios. I believe she was admitted to eastern state hospital in 1929. and maybe got the tubuculosis during her stay , and moved to the nearby tubuculois hospital. and later died at that hospital. please anyone any help would be so appreciated. ms. hatton if you could please help. this is my dad’s mom and he passed away in 1976. 219-374-7507

  41. I have my grandmothers second husband, Whitt Sanders as dying there Nov 29,1941. The death certificate lists his d.o.b 1874. Cause of death coronary embolism. Contributory cause , heart disease, hypertension, psychosis and cerebral ateriosclerosis. Death Cert. 26153

  42. My great grandmother was a patient at Central State Hospital from Sept. 11, 1918 until her death on March 19,1919. Luckily she was not one of the ones buried there. I have a Transit permit that says she was taken back to Monroe Co. Ky. I also have her death certificate signed by a Dr. L B Trigg & a letter that was sent back to my grandfather answering his letter as to how she was doing.
    .I too have been trying to get her records, mainly to just see if it had a picture of her. I have lots of unidentified pictures and I was hoping one would match up to her. Does anyone know if they have pictures attached?? Every time I call there, I get a different story. Today I was sent to Family Court – who thought I was crazy calling them. Then to district court, then Probate Court. & on to Mental inquest & guardianship Court. Nobody knew anything about getting a court order to get her records. I then called the Filson Club, which couldn’t help. They referred me to Louisville Metro Local Health Dept. – still no help. Tomorrow I will call the Ombudsman in Frankfort to see what he can suggest. I read that the HIPAA act 164.510(b) states that after 50 years the privacy act is removed. This lady today at Central State told me it didn’t pertain to them. what is going on! How do we even know if there is anything other than a death certificate in the record or if there is even a record there!!! Especially after having to pay a court cost. ( If I could find how to do it). When I told her I would just go to Frankfort & take the proper papers to avoid the long wait, she said they wouldn’t even talk to me. anyone have any suggestions? My email is
    Thank you in advance – Bonita Pendleton

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