Mendota Memorial Cemeterey
Mendota Memorial Cemetery, also known as Mendota State Hospital Cemetery, was a burial ground for patients who passed away during their stay at the Mendota State Hospital. Situated in a residential neighborhood, the cemetery has no physical borders to mark its boundaries from the surrounding homes. There are fewer than ten marked graves and the actual number of individuals interred there is unknown. This cemetery has been inactive since the 1960s and its only landmark is an engraved stone dedicated to the people buried there.
Backstory and Context
The cemetery was founded in the same year as the Wisconsin Hospital for the Insane, serving as a burial ground for patients who passed away who had no family to claim them or whose families could not afford to have them buried elsewhere. A stone sits on the ground of the cemetery, bearing the poem: “The journey/from the spirit world we come/to the spirit world we return/the circle is complete.” The stone also lists the years 1860-1964 as the period during which the cemetery was active.
In its first half century of operation, 14,270 patients were admitted to the Mendota Mental Health Institute. Of those, 1,702 patients passed away during their time at the hospital. Even though the actual number of burials is unknown, the Mendota Memorial Cemetery could not hold the remains of all those individuals as it does not have enough land to accommodate nearly two thousand graves. Some of the individuals interred here were originally buried in other locations closer to the Mental Health Institute itself but were later moved to their current location in the Mendota Memorial Cemetery.Located a half mile north of the Mendota Mental Health Institute’s original location, the cemetery sits in a residential neighborhood in Northern Madison, in the North Lake Mendota neighborhood. The cemetery sits at the intersection of North Road and West Road, on the northwestern corner of the Central Wisconsin Center’s campus. No patients of the Central Wisconsin Center are interred at the Mendota Memorial Hospital.
“Mendota State Hospital Cemetery.” Find a Grave. 27 Jan 2007. https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/2204660/mendota-state-hospital-cemetery
Isthmus Staff. “Madison’s secret neighborhoods: North” Isthmus Magazine. 9 May 2010. https://isthmus.com/news/cover-story/madisons-neighborhood-secrets-north/
Wisconsin Blue Book. Wisconsin, 1913. http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/WI.WIBlueBk1913