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

Man accused of exposing himself at Utah store...
Shara Park

Man accused of exposing himself to underage girls at Utah store

The owner of Rad Swim in Highland is warning Utah families after she says a man exposed himself to her associate and several young girls in her store Monday evening.
1 day ago
High school teammates play in Super Bowl...
Ayanna Likens

2 former Stansbury High School teammates to faceoff in the Super Bowl

Two former Stansbury High School football teammates will face each other as rivals in the Super Bowl.
1 day ago
HOV lanes for pregnant women...
Katija Stjepovic

House passes bill allowing pregnant women to drive solo in HOV lanes

Pregnant women may soon be allowed to drive solo in HOV lanes after a bill allowing just that passed in the Utah House of Representatives Friday.
1 day ago
(Matt Rascon/KSL TV)...
Matt Rascon & Eliza Pace

KSL+: Healing in schools after Enoch tragic shooting

In the weeks following the tragic shooting in Enoch that killed five children, the school community continues to feel the impact.
1 day ago
FILE (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images for UNITAS)...
Madison Swenson

Two Utah county men, business charged with $11M COVID tax fraud scheme

Two Utah County men, as well as an accounting business in Provo, have been charged with a COVID-related tax fraud scheme totaling more than $11 million.
1 day ago
Elk herd near Parleys Canyon...
Jed Boal

3 elk die after herd wanders onto roads near Parleys Canyon

A large herd of elk continues to keep motorists and state troopers on high alert near the mouth of Parleys Canyon.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Utah State Hospital Honors Forgotten Patients with Memorial Wall