Asylum Bridge outside of Osawatomie Mental Hospital.
There’s something about this cemetery that sets it apart from others we’ve visited in Kansas in the past. Everyone who wasn’t claimed by families at this mental hospital was buried as just a number. However sad it is, this cemetery in Kansas is equally unnerving.
We do not recommend visiting any cemetery after regular hours of operation, or causing any damage to the cemetery itself. You are in charge of obtaining appropriate permissions for visiting this location.
Osawatomie Mental Hospital
In a time when many men were returning from the Civil War damaged, the “Kansas State Hospital for the Insane” was there to help families and the war-haunted with their problems. The first building here was built in 1860, right after families were legally able to transfer care of a person to a facility such as this. Today, the old hospital building itself is blocked off from the public, and remains a slightly creepy reminder of what once was.
Over the years, this mental hospital buried many who died, but 346 of them are only marked with a number (in order of death) because they were never claimed by family members and thus had no one to see them off.
Some of the last numbered burials happened in the 1950s, and only two have been replaced by family who wanted their names known at their last resting place.
Names on tombstones, as well as quotes or dates lived, are pieces of life’s puzzle that many visitors to cemeteries read. Throughout this cemetery, you see hundreds of numbers, and it’s almost like playing a game of Guess Who? where you don’t know who lies where. Each stone is a life, but a life unknown and mostly un-remembered.
To think that all of these lives ended while at a mental hospital, away from any family members, is a little heartbreaking. However, it’s also a little unnerving and creepy to think of what they went through and how one is unidentifiable from the next one over.
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