- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 17, 2016

BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) - A southern Vermont psychiatric hospital has reclaimed a historic cemetery that served as a burial site for hundreds of patients who died while being treated there, most in the second half of the 19th century.

Vermont Public Radio reports (https://bit.ly/1suJKKd ) the Brattleboro Retreat installed a new granite marker at the cemetery, repaired headstones and repositioned granite posts.

The cemetery is across from the hospital and has been neglected for years. The hospital opened in 1834, and the last person buried in the cemetery died in 1901. Officials believe about 650 people were laid to rest there.

Many of the tombstones don’t have full names or birth dates.

“We do know that because of mental illness their lives came to an end here. And in many cases, after a long time spent here,” said Kurt White, the retreat’s director of ambulatory care. “For many of these people the retreat was home, in life and now here also after. And there’s a sadness in this.”

Over the years, many of the remains were moved to town cemeteries. No one is sure how many people are left, although there are 34 headstones.

“As the heirs of those who cared for them in life, I’m very glad that we’re looking to care for them also in death,” White said. “To lend their lives and memories some peace, dignity and respect.”

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Information from: WVPS-FM, https://www.vpr.net

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