Finding Names

The best way we have found names is by going through Kentucky death certificates, 1-by-1. Unfortunately this only covers 1911 through the early 1960s (state law only releases them when they are 50 years old and are usually behind on that). Death certificates arent 100% reliable however. Sometimes the place of burial was left blank or the cemetery listed may not be correct, There is at least 1 we know of for sure that was listed as being buried in Ashland, Ky but found out through the funeral home that the remains were returned to ESH and buried there.Also we suspect in the early days of the death certificate law, they likely never even filled one out.

Mary Hatton has found names by going through old obits and court records as well. Up until the 1970s, the hospital had ledgers aka Death Books, wherein they would enter the name of a patient when they died and where they were buried, but we have been told those books disappeared years ago. The very early records were likely not well recorded, if at all. Our guess is there are useful records buried at the archives that we either aren’t allowed to see or that are misfiled.

Another thing we have run across is patients that died and their bodies were “donated” to the Medical School at the University of Louisville. No one seems to know what happened with their remains afterwards through the 1960s.

Death certificate for James Noe

Death certificate for James Noe

As you see in this death certificate, the handwriting isn’t great and this is a problem for many years. By the 1940s they finally started to type out most of the information.

KentuckyDeathRecords18521953_116020390This is a death certificate for Opal Brumfield, she was an inmate at the “House of Reform” when she died from tuberculosis and for some reason was buried at the ESH cemetery.


Sam ZegnaHere is the death certificate for Sam Zegna. It states he was a coal miner in Harlan Co., Ky. It says he “is foreigner, cannot speak English & no history can be had.” They didn’t even know what country he was from, so the spelling might be wrong. For all we know he was not insane, especially since no one knew what he was saying in his native language. Wonder how many people were committed for similar issues.

All of these questions will not be answered by the state since they like to hide behind patient privacy, it’s easier then actually making amends.

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