Utah State Hospital Honors Forgotten Patients with Memorial Wall

Nov 3, 2018, 12:34 AM | Updated: 12:36 am

PROVO, Utah – They may have been buried in unmarked graves but thanks to a Utah State Hospital historian, hundreds of former patients are forgotten no more. These 485 men and women lived out their lives at the facility, formerly known as Utah Territorial Insane Asylum, and died there between 1886 and 1960.

After more than a decade, Janina Chilton said she has finally traced where these patients were buried.

“These were people who, because of their mental illness, ended up in an asylum or hospital, eventually died over time and were largely forgotten,” said Chilton, a Utah State Hospital historian.

Thanks to her efforts and dedicated research that started back in 2002, the hospital historian has solved a century-old mystery and managed to match the missing patients with records found at the Provo City Cemetery. Today, the names of each former hospital resident and their death dates are marked clearly and engraved in granite headstones on a memorial wall unveiled in October.

Chilton said she dove into old records and found countless patients who shared similar stories. She found no shortage of old pictures documenting their lives but the question that was always looming for a long time was, ‘Where were they buried?’

“I kind of started thinking ‘do we have a cemetery’ and ‘who were these people?’”

Questions Chilton said were eventually answered. The only challenge was that the graves of the nearly 500 patients were unmarked.

“They really lost their identity in life, and we really felt like they needed to have that back,” said Chilton.

She set off on a mission, helped raise thousands of dollars and after three-and-half years, the Hospital historian turned investigator spearheaded a memorial wall in the Provo City Cemetery. The wall is giving families the opportunity to find their relatives and giving us a lesson in humanity.

“We hope nothing like this ever happens again,” said Chilton.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

Hundreds of protesters marched in Provo for abortion rights....
Michael Locklear

Hundreds protest in Provo to demand abortion rights

A crowd of roughly 300 people gathered in Provo Saturday night to demand abortion rights.
1 day ago
A structure fire nearby the Rio Tinto Stadium. (Credit: Scott Jones)...
Michael Houck

Business catches on fire near the Rio Tinto Stadium during Real game

Sandy Fire crews battled against a 3rd alarm structure fire near the Rio Tinto Stadium during the Real Salt Lake game Saturday evening.
1 day ago
A head on crash between a pick-up truck and a car. (Credit: UHP)...
Michael Houck

Police: One man dead, one in hospital after a crash in San Juan County

One man is dead, and another person is in the hospital after a head-on crash in San Juan County, according to Utah Highway Patrol.
1 day ago
A sign hangs in the offices of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America(Photo by Mario Tama/Get...
Michael Houck, KSL-TV & Associated Press

Planned Parenthood, ACLU sue over Utah abortion ban

'We are forced into motherhood'; Planned Parenthood and the ACLU filed a lawsuit against Utah's trigger law banning most abortions in the state.
1 day ago
FILE PHOTO: Utah County Attorney David Leavitt is pictured at a press conference in Salt Lake City ...
Michael Houck

Utah County Commissioner clarifies ‘incorrect’ quotes used in Leavitt mailers

Utah County Commissioner Ameilia Gardner sent a statement clarifying a possible endorsement of Utah County Attorney David Leavitt sent to local residents.
1 day ago
Air Force Thunderbirds...
Merri Moeller, KSL TV

WATCH LIVE: Warriors Over The Wasatch 

After a four-year break, the Warriors Over the Wasatch Air and Space Show is back at Hill Air Force Base.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Utah State Hospital Honors Forgotten Patients with Memorial Wall