Fort Steilacoom, WA cemetery and its grave stone dates

KorbenDallas

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#1
Several weeks ago went to take a look at the building of our local Western State psychiatric Hospital. I know, it's pretty fitting right about now, right?

A little Wiki history first, "The facility was established in Washington Territory as Fort Steilacoom Asylum in 1871, predating statehood by almost 20 years, in former buildings of Fort Steilacoom, which was a U.S. Army post from 1849 to 1868. In 1875, the territorial government took control due to complaints about patient neglect, brutal abuse and poor living conditions."

So the timelines are:
  • 1792 - Captain George Vancouver landed at what would become Port Townsend in 1854
  • 1846 - Tumwater- first settlement in Washington State
  • 1849 - Fort Steilacoom
  • 1871 - Hospital
  • 1889 - Washington State
* * * *​

I wanted to see the building of the Hospital. The original buildings of the asylum were demolished in 1886 to make way for a larger structure. It was renamed Western Washington Hospital for the Insane and the main ward was completed in 1887. In each of the following decades numerous out-buildings were constructed. In 1915, it was renamed Western State Hospital and grew in various stages.

western-state-hospital.jpg western-state-hospital_1.jpg

The building was pretty interesting but nothing I have not seen before. The older portion of the complex has first level floor beneath the ground level. Some art as you can see above. Below is an interesting "Power Plant" building with knocked off shield.

western-state-hospital_2.jpg
There was really nothing to investigate about this building. It was old, and part of it was below the ground level. Eventually I wondered off across the street and to the Hospital Cemetery.

western-state-hospital_3.jpg

The place is old. It feels old. A few of the grave stones were vertical. Majority were of horizontal type laying on the ground. At the same time nothing out of the ordinary. There is some restoration going on on some of the gravestones but the majority were the original ones.

western-state-hospital_4.jpg western-state-hospital_5.jpg western-state-hospital_5_1.jpg western-state-hospital_8.jpg western-state-hospital_7.jpg
Note: But then, between the trees and under some pine needles I found these several grave stones. They did not have much on them. Only dates.

fort_steilacum_grave_stone_1.JPG fort_steilacum_grave_stone_2.JPG fort_steilacum_grave_stone_3.JPG fort_steilacum_grave_stone_4.JPG fort_steilacum_grave_stone_5.JPG

If I'm not mistaken the earliest one is like 1787-88. They were hard to read even standing next to them.

If those are the dates, they make no sense as far as historical time frames go. No people were supposed to be buried (under numerals like these) 60 years before any settlements took place.

So I'm thinking, may be those are not grave stones but rather some sort of cemetery roster numbers? It was just weird that they were spaced out the same way regular grave stones were. But then again, may be people were just buried under some numbers back then.

What do you think?
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#3
It’s just that these dates make no sense from the local history stand point.
 

whitewave

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#4
There were enough crazy people running around Washington so soon after it was settled that an entire hospital was devoted to their care? Pioneers had that kind of resources to support an entire hospital (building of, staffing, maintenance, care and feeding patients) while they're trying to settle a new land?
 

humanoidlord

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#6
there likely was something there before, they just conquered the town and built a hospital
so yes those are the real dates
 

asatiger1966

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#7
Several weeks ago went to take a look at the building of our local Western State psychiatric Hospital. I know, it's pretty fitting right about now, right?

A little Wiki history first, "The facility was established in Washington Territory as Fort Steilacoom Asylum in 1871, predating statehood by almost 20 years, in former buildings of Fort Steilacoom, which was a U.S. Army post from 1849 to 1868. In 1875, the territorial government took control due to complaints about patient neglect, brutal abuse and poor living conditions."

So the timelines are:
  • 1792 - Captain George Vancouver landed at what would become Port Townsend in 1854
  • 1846 - Tumwater- first settlement in Washington State
  • 1849 - Fort Steilacoom
  • 1871 - Hospital
  • 1889 - Washington State
* * * *​

I wanted to see the building of the Hospital. The original buildings of the asylum were demolished in 1886 to make way for a larger structure. It was renamed Western Washington Hospital for the Insane and the main ward was completed in 1887. In each of the following decades numerous out-buildings were constructed. In 1915, it was renamed Western State Hospital and grew in various stages.


The building was pretty interesting but nothing I have not seen before. The older portion of the complex has first level floor beneath the ground level. Some art as you can see above. Below is an interesting "Power Plant" building with knocked off shield.

There was really nothing to investigate about this building. It was old, and part of it was below the ground level. Eventually I wondered off across the street and to the Hospital Cemetery.

The place is old. It feels old. A few of the grave stones were vertical. Majority were of horizontal type laying on the ground. At the same time nothing out of the ordinary. There is some restoration going on on some of the gravestones but the majority were the original ones.

Note: But then, between the trees and under some pine needles I found these several grave stones. They did not have much on them. Only dates.


If I'm not mistaken the earliest one is like 1787-88. They were hard to read even standing next to them.

If those are the dates, they make no sense as far as historical time frames go. No people were supposed to be buried (under numerals like these) 60 years before any settlements took place.

So I'm thinking, may be those are not grave stones but rather some sort of cemetery roster numbers? It was just weird that they were spaced out the same way regular grave stones were. But then again, may be people were just buried under some numbers back then.

What do you think?
The old Fort Steilacoom had about 800 barracks beds. So the Asylum was large for the time period.

1485291947_old-western-state-hospital-ivy.jpg

Western_State_Hospital,_Washington Fort Steilacoom Asylum in 1871.jpg
 
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KorbenDallas

KorbenDallas

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#8
The old Fort Steilacoom had about 800 barracks beds. So the Asylum was large for the time period.
And considering that it is about the same number of beds we have today, the reasonable question to ask would pertain to the real size of the Washington State population in 1800s.
Western State Hospital - WSH is one of the largest inpatient psychiatric hospitals west of the Mississippi with more than 800 beds and 2,200 employees. WSH is located in the city of Lakewood, Washington, which is seven miles south of Tacoma.
 

Onijunbei

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#9
What would justify it would be medical research... But not the wholesome research one would expect. There was plenty of "philanthropy" handed out when it came to medical research by really "good" rich people. Tons of loony bins were built for the purpose of testing out vaccines, and performing experimental surgeries and procedures (lobotomy or shock treatment anyone?) . And not just on the looney... Native populations were used as well as convicted criminals. Also I don't believe mental illness was all that big back then unless contributed by the heavy sugar /alcohol content of the Western Diet. Im reminded of a lady who studied Weston A Price and told stories of how people would go mad and become suicidal from the pain and anguish brought on from the new diet that moved away from traditional foods. Imagine having wisdom teeth and no dentist. Which brings me to why modern populations have to have so much dental work. The population does not consume enough vitamins for mothers to have infants with fully developed jaws and wide mouths... There's not enough room in the mouth for all the teeth. I would imagine many people suffering so much before the advent of pain relievers that their only recourse was alcohol, which of course would exacerbate the problem, and a good place to put alcoholics would be in a....
 
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whitewave

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#10
In reading a few different books about all the skeletal remains of giants found (and "misplaced"/"never received" by the Smithsonian) one thing that is almost always mentioned is the remarkably good condition of their teeth. Bones may crumble to dust when coming in contact with the air but their teeth are still intact and never show any signs of decay (cavities, etc.). What happened?
 

Onijunbei

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#11
In reading a few different books about all the skeletal remains of giants found (and "misplaced"/"never received" by the Smithsonian) one thing that is almost always mentioned is the remarkably good condition of their teeth. Bones may crumble to dust when coming in contact with the air but their teeth are still intact and never show any signs of decay (cavities, etc.). What happened?
Change in diet. Research the dentist, Weston A Price
 

Onijunbei

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#13
This makes me wonder why they encourage people to have their "wisdom" teeth pulled...
They are not wisdom teeth... They are teeth your mouth is supposed to have. But because our parents have poor diets our mouths and jawline do not fully develop. Those "wisdom" teeth then get compacted and go sideways and can cause some major problems if they are not extracted. That's why they encourage the extraction.
 

UnusualBean

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#14
They are not wisdom teeth... They are teeth your mouth is supposed to have. But because our parents have poor diets our mouths and jawline do not fully develop. Those "wisdom" teeth then get compacted and go sideways and can cause some major problems if they are not extracted. That's why they encourage the extraction.
Bad parental diet definitely causes problems, but the jaw continues growing well into the teens, making it mainly an issue of child and adolescent diet. Dietary intervention before the baby teeth are all gone might be able to stimulate enough jaw growth to prevent crowding in the adult teeth.

Unfortunately there's no hope once your jaw is fully formed, but we can still protect our teeth from decay by eating a more traditional diet (y)
 
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