16 episodes

Welcome to WHO Lies Beneath: The Asylum. This podcast is about restoring dignity and respect by giving a voice to the voiceless.

On the old Athens Lunatic Asylum grounds in southeast Ohio, you’ll find tremendous beauty. There are regal buildings overlooking town, and the sprawling grounds originally had a park-like setting, with gorgeous ponds, gardens, and fountains - the beauty in stark contrast to the history of what happened to some of those who were taken to the now closed facility. The grounds contain three cemeteries where approximately 1900 patients who weren’t claimed by their families when they died - were buried.

Those who were unclaimed were buried under numbered tombstones, with no names or dates on them. This was common practice with many state and national mental health and medical institutions at the time.

Each week, you’ll hear the life stories of people who were buried under those numbered tombstones in Athens. Each person will tell their own story - using a first-person style account and voice actors.

We’ll also talk with Doug McCabe, a retired library archivist who spent many years digging through old documents linking names and life stories with the numbers on the grave markers, along with other researchers and mental health experts.

If the subject of this podcast interests you, please subscribe to WHO Lies Beneath: The Asylum wherever you access your podcasts. You can also listen at WOUB.org/listen.

WHO Lies Beneath: The Asylum WOUB Public Media

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.9 • 35 Ratings

Welcome to WHO Lies Beneath: The Asylum. This podcast is about restoring dignity and respect by giving a voice to the voiceless.

On the old Athens Lunatic Asylum grounds in southeast Ohio, you’ll find tremendous beauty. There are regal buildings overlooking town, and the sprawling grounds originally had a park-like setting, with gorgeous ponds, gardens, and fountains - the beauty in stark contrast to the history of what happened to some of those who were taken to the now closed facility. The grounds contain three cemeteries where approximately 1900 patients who weren’t claimed by their families when they died - were buried.

Those who were unclaimed were buried under numbered tombstones, with no names or dates on them. This was common practice with many state and national mental health and medical institutions at the time.

Each week, you’ll hear the life stories of people who were buried under those numbered tombstones in Athens. Each person will tell their own story - using a first-person style account and voice actors.

We’ll also talk with Doug McCabe, a retired library archivist who spent many years digging through old documents linking names and life stories with the numbers on the grave markers, along with other researchers and mental health experts.

If the subject of this podcast interests you, please subscribe to WHO Lies Beneath: The Asylum wherever you access your podcasts. You can also listen at WOUB.org/listen.

    Season 2 wrap-up and looking ahead to Season 3

    Season 2 wrap-up and looking ahead to Season 3

    This is the last episode of season 2, and we are going to introduce you to some people in upstate New York, partially inspired by what they heard on this podcast, who are doing the hard, sometimes tedious work, of unlocking the information to tell the stories of those buried in an unmarked graveyard in their community. They are partnering with this podcast to tell the stories of some of those individuals for season 3 of WHO Lies Beneath.

    • 35 min
    Jane Galford Johnson

    Jane Galford Johnson

    Jane Johnson is a pretty common name. So common in fact that there are two people buried on the asylum grounds with that name.

    • 20 min
    Prudence Parkinson Kincade

    Prudence Parkinson Kincade

    Prudence Parkinson Kincade’s story was a mystery to her descendants until they discovered that she was buried at the Athens Asylum and reached out to us to help put some of the pieces together. We learned that Kincade was institutionalized for approximately 25 years and was part of a high profile transfer of what the newspapers called “lunatic and imbecile inmates” to the Athens Asylum in 1904.

    • 14 min
    James Douglas and William Black

    James Douglas and William Black

    Sometimes people ended up at the Athens Asylum because none of the other ways society dealt with those who were deemed difficult seemed to work. James Douglas and William Black appear to be two of those people. We also talk with Nora Steele about her research into an Asylum Newspaper and the inmates who wrote stories for it.

    • 43 min
    Ruth Close & Baby Close

    Ruth Close & Baby Close

    According to the Old Athens Lunatic Asylum gravebook, there were three babies who died at the Asylum and weren’t claimed by their families. One of them who was buried in the Asylum cemeteries was a baby girl who is only identified as a baby with her mother’s last name. Cheri and Doug, along with Ohio University Professor Emeritus of Social Medicine Jackie Wolf talk about what might have happened to the baby and her mother, Ruth, during their time at the Old Athens Lunatic Asylum. We also hear from a Lancaster, Ohio historian who is working to preserve the headstones and life stories of those buried in his community.

    • 28 min
    Amanda Smith and Levi Mercer

    Amanda Smith and Levi Mercer

    Amanda Smith and Levi Mercer are connected by more than just the fact that they both are buried in cemetery 1 of the Old Athens Lunatic Asylum. They are also connected by blood, as the two were father and daughter. Amanda and Levi were both institutionalized at different times. Levi was admitted to the Asylum seven years after his daughter, Amanda, died there. We don’t know if he knew that his daughter was buried on the grounds under a number or if he had any idea he’d likely join her there. But one of his present day ancestors has been conducting research trying to put all the pieces together to tell both of their stories.

    • 29 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
35 Ratings

35 Ratings

mspassell ,

4)7908546 stars!!!!

Thank you for honoring these lives!

MsFlattop ,

Excellent!!

I have wondered for years about the work that I had heard was being done about the unmarked graves at the asylum. This podcast is so outstanding, and has brought peace to my heart, even though I don’t have a relative buried there. I’m so glad that many have found their relatives and have been able to bring peace to their lives. Keep up the great work, can’t wait to listen to season two!

dkdk3434 ,

Highly recommend.

Very well done. I could see a version of this type of podcast about a lot of old cemeteries

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