|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Originally the site was a US Army post called Ft Steilacoom. Later, the Army decommissioned the post and Washington State repurposed the facility as a mental hospital. The Western State Hospital Cemetery is a separate cemetery from the original post cemetery, Fort Steilacoom Cemetery.
In 1871 an insane asylum opened there with the barracks serving as patient and staff housing. Fort Steilacoom is now the mental hospital called Western State Hospital. Hospital residents grew crops and orchards in the area and planted many of the Poplar trees that currently line the lake shore. More than 3,000 hospital residents are buried in the Fort Steilacoom or Western State Hospital Cemetery.
As was with many hospital burials of the day, graves were either unmarked in marked rows or, like in this cemetery, only marked with a small concrete numbered block.
At the entrace to the cemetery is a large sign noting that 3,218 individuals are buried in the cemetery and that a program of restoration is underway. One hundred seventy-two graves are currently marked and have been photographed and the memorials noted.
One large marker states that 536 individuals have been laid to rest between 1939 and 1952 and lists all their names. I have done my best to list all of the names from my photographs.
The cemetery was closed to burials in 1953 and those dying while at the Western State Hospital have been laid to rest in other local cemeteries. (text by Roger Vartabedian)