Workers Keep Finding Graves on UMMC Campus

Site was a former insane asylum

Jasmine Davis, Staff Reporter

During work that began in 2013, workers on the UMMC campus in Mississippi as well as  experts found an estimated 7,000 bodies assumed to be from the 1800s. As of May 7, there are new plans in the making for how to handle this previously unmarked graveyard.

The site where the campus stands today, was once the insane asylum of Mississippi built back in the eighteen hundreds as the state’s first, where thousands of people lived out their days.

The construction crews first found sixty six coffins, then one thousand, and six thousand, now it is estimated to be seven thousand bodies buried below the earth.

The the area of the UMMC campus where building was requested stretches across twenty acres, and officials now struggle with how to deal with this situation.

Officials say that it will be an estimated $3000 for each body to be exhumed and reburied, in turn costing up to $21 million total.

There has been talk of another plan that would cost about $400,000 a year over the course of eight years, this would include a visitors center and memorial for the families of the victims as well as a lab to study the remains and clothing left behind.

Scientists would also like to study the coffins as well claiming this would be “a unique resource” for the state and that it would give them insight into life during the eighteen and nineteen hundreds.

The asylum cost around $175,000 to build and was completed in 1855. At its height it held about six thousand patients but was moved to State hospital at Whitfield two decades later.

Although admitting patients was meant to ease their lives, of the 1,376 patients admitted within the housing time span, one in five of them ended up dying behind the walls and fences.

Karen Clark, a descendant of an asylum victim, has offered up the idea of DNA testing to bring closure to the families of those who lost their lives.

Her great-grandfather was said to have been placed there after the war, and ended up passing away although the family did not receive the body.

When Karen learned of the bodies she was overcome with her emotions and she said her thoughts were “This person could be saved if modern medicine were there.” Clark further indicated she has much sympathy for those with complex mental issues.