They are former patients of the state's first mental institution, called the Insane Asylum, built in 1855, and underground radar shows their coffins stretch across 20 acres of the UMMC campus, where officials have wanted to build. [...]
Before the asylum, those suffering from mental illness were chained in jails and even attics, said Dr. Luke Lampton, chairman of the state Board of Health. While the asylum provided a better place for patients, life remained harsh. Of the 1,376 patients admitted between 1855 and 1877, more than one in five died.
After the Civil War ended, the facility expanded to house 300 patients, and the area became known as "Asylum Hill," a neighborhood that included houses, a school and Cade Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, a church for former slaves. [...] At its height, about 6,000 patients stayed at the asylum, and the facility provided many jobs to the area, which saw construction of a fertilizer factory, a Baptist orphanage and a sanatorium for those suffering from tuberculosis.
Wow. This is a lot like saying, "More than 6,000 'stayed' at the prison, providing many jobs", or "More than 6,000 African immigrants 'stayed' at the plantation, providing many jobs".
Zuckerman said one master's student used genetic sequencing to reconstruct oral bacteria from skeletons, shedding light on health conditions at the time the individuals were alive. A second student studied missing lines of tooth enamel, pointing to nutritional deprivation and other severe stress. A third student found evidence in asylum records and in skeletons of pellagra, a disease caused by Vitamin B deficiency, which was extremely common in the South during the early 20th century.
Zuckerman said records reflect up to 35,000 patients stayed at the asylum between 1865 and 1935. She said a total of 9,000 died there, with about 6,000 of them buried in the asylum cemetery.
Malformed: Forgotten Brains of the Texas State Mental Hospital is an amazing book that not only has some fantastically creepy photos, but also goes into a lot of detail about what kind of horrible snakepits these sorts of facilities were. It's probably worse than you imagine, even if that imagination is based solely on low budget horror movies.