I was in Columbus this weekend. While I was driving around and checking out the city, the GPS popped up with something I couldn't believe never appeared during my Google planning for the trip. But if you search for it directly, you'll see lots of hits for it, and photographs pretty much like the ones I took to share here. It's the State of Ohio Asylum for the Insane Cemetery.
Apparently, there are three such cemeteries, and when I looked into this, it seemed clear people aren't all talking about the same one. However, here's an interesting short blog post with photos of the Ohio Lunatic Asylum, where "crazy" people were experimented on...and now I have a new subject to obsess over for a few days.
To get to this one, you park at the bottom of a road with locked bars, then walk up that gravel road about 1/4 mile past what looks like an old small quarry, but could have just been excavation of some kind, until you're suddenly in a peaceful grassy tucked away lot, and this gate appears almost as if it wouldn't always be there, or would go away if you blinked a couple times.
Obviously there's no real apology that can be made for what we all know went on at those places up until way too recently. I mean, other than, "Our ancestors were terrible, terrible people. We'll try to do better."
The graves are in a neat and interesting order, in what seems to be three groups. There are two under a big tree, with others partially circling them, and then there are two large sections where they're laid out in rows.
Apparently, there are also leftover prisoners buried here; the ones unclaimed by family.
The rest of the graves have no birthdates. And some of them have no name at all, or just a name and no death date.
I believe that some of the "unknown" ones are newer and replaced old markers labeled "specimen." But they all date from roughly 1857-1957, and are laid out chronologically, though the later unknowns have no years on them.
These two markers really touched me. I kept going back to them.
At the back of the lot, part of a tree had fallen and was just lying there, one more ghost added to the gruesomely peaceful scene. But I can't say it had been there for more than a month, judging by the grass growing underneath it.
And I can't quite say that finding this spot was the highlight of my weekend, but it had an effect on me that is cause for reflection. This is my serious time of year, when I do contemplate life, the universe, and a few bits of everything, and start wanting to get it all down in words again. As the angle of the sun sharpens and the daytime light wanes, I feel a need to...to bring it all together and make some sense out of it.
But of course, there are some things you just can't really make any sense out of at all, and the best you can do is reflect on it lightly while still moving forward.