Number of Burials: A total of 1,994 persons are thought to be buried in the two
Cemeteries. Burials during the early decades of the hospital averaged three to four
per month. The greatest number of burials within a one year period occurred during
1919 with 54 burials. The second greatest occurred in 1917 with 49 burials. By the
mid ‘50s, burials had dropped to about 18 per year. At the same time that psychotropic
medication came into use at the hospital, the number of burials fell dramatically,
and by the mid 60’s, there was an average of only 10 per year. By 1973, the last
year for burials, only 4 burials are recorded.
Most persons who died while hospitalized were claimed by family or community for
private burial. However, many had family who either couldn’t be located, lived in
other countries or were without adequate financial resources. Burial in hospital
cemeteries would then need to be approved through the Probate Court. This process
combined the search for family members and financial resources and delayed in burial
by 3 days to 2 weeks.
Names: Names are known for all individuals buried in the state hospital cemeteries,
with the exception of several infants born before 1910. However, due to the need
to maintain confidentiality of medical records, even for those dating back over 100
years, the Ohio Department of Mental Health has determined that information that
might specifically identify an individual must not be made public.
Religion: One hospital retiree made the generalization that the cemeteries held
“only Protestants” and suggested that this was due to burial traditions in other
denominations. There are indications that certain faiths did indeed make efforts
to arrange burials elsewhere, when families could not. A review of the Medical Record
cards that documented patient religion does indeed show that most persons buried
in the hospital cemeteries were identified as either protestant or unknown. Other
represented faiths in the cemeteries include Greek Orthodox, Jewish, 7th Day Adventist,
Spiritualist, Christian Scientist, Quaker, and member of the Salvation Army.
Race : The death register contains five references to race by either noting “col.”
or “colored,” which turned out to be a rather random accounting of people of color.
The Medical Records cards offered a more accurate count, as each card contained
a space for documentation of race. Although the percentage of African Americans
buried in the hospital cemeteries is higher than reflected in the death register,
it is still relatively low at 7%. A retired director of nursing noted that there
were few African Americans hospitalized at the State Hospital during the 50’s and
60’s. She felt that family members cared at home for most African Americans with
mental illness, and that only those individuals with very severe mental or physical
problems were sent to the State Hospital.
Nativity : Toledo State Hospital treated persons from throughout Northwest Ohio and
beyond. A total of 30 Ohio counties are represented in the cemeteries, including
counties as far away as Cuyahoga County. Country of origin is also identified, when
relevant, with the great immigration of the 20th century being reflected in the 239
people known to have originated from one of the 28 countries represented in the cemeteries,
including people of Hispanic, Asian and Middle Eastern nationality.
There are 3 known Native Americans in the state hospital cemeteries.
Children: The burial records indicate that seven stillborn infants are buried in
the cemeteries, including one set of twins. Several of their mothers, who were patients
at the time of birth, have been identified by matching names, the mother’s age, and
dates of hospitalization. Children as young as 9 were occasionally admitted to the
state hospital due to behavioral problems, running away, and even physical illness.
Some, including children as young as 13, are among those represented in the cemeteries.
Family Ties: Several sets of spouses, siblings and parent/child have been identified,
but because burials occurred in sequential order of death, family members were not
Unidentified: Five people were buried without identification as “John Doe.” Mental
retardation, physical illness, dementia or psychosis may have caused these persons
to be unable to speak or identify themselves. One man with mental retardation remained
nameless throughout his 38 year hospitalization.
Veterans: There have been numerous veterans from WWI, WWII, the Spanish-American
War and several peace-time veterans identified from records. Two Civil War veterans
have been identified through information provided by family. And a further 15 from
recent work done by a local genealogist. It is highly probable that other veterans
are buried in the cemeteries but, due to inadequate records and the inability of
some veterans to identify themselves, they remain undocumented.
This information is taken from a variety of sources including the Hospital Death
Register, Division of Vital Statistics Cemetery records and patient information cards.
A special thanks to Jane Weber for compiling the information.
More information on the day to day operation of Toledo State Hospital and Cemetery
including details of burial markers and the process of interment will be posted
once it has been transcribed.
TSHCRC is a grass roots organization that welcomes donations to support of our efforts
to restore the State Hospital cemeteries. Tax deductible donations can be made to
NAMI of Greater Toledo. For more details see our Donating page.