Thursday, October 18, 2018

Specimens! The Final Resting Place of Ohio's Criminally Insane

Six Feet Under Hollywood was originally designed as a blog detailing celebrity graves.  But every so often in my travels, I encounter other less-famous graves that just beg to be profiled.  While never household names, the graves themselves have a story to tell.  Such was the case on a recent visit to Columbus, Ohio.

It's here that you'll find the redundantly named State of Ohio State Old Insane and Penal Cemetery.  It opened its doors in 1868 when the Central Ohio Lunatic Asylum (actual name) was destroyed by fire.  Seven inmates perished in the disaster.  Read a fascinating period-specific newspaper account of the incident here.

Additional inmate burials would follow, and eventually the state included prison inmates and the homeless as well.  A plaque outside proudly declares "We recognize the courage of past state hospital residents who lived with mental illness and inspired future understanding."

Unlike most cemeteries, you won't find many names on these markers.  Most are identified by their patient identification number, using the prefix "M" for male and "F" for female.

While these tantalize the imagination with questions of who each of these individuals really were, there are two much more curious stones found within the park, each labeled simply as "Specimens."  One can only imagine what might be buried in these plots.  Perhaps that inspiration for future understanding came through the study of abnormal brains.

If you're looking to visit, ignore most directions found online.  Communication is a lost art.  The cemetery is located behind the heliport for the Columbus Police Department.  Simply put that location in whichever map software you use for the best directions.  It will take you past an industrial area, through a gate, and down a long, seemingly deserted road.  But once you're in the parking lot, the cemetery can't be missed.

Next:  Another odd cemetery in Columbus???

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