Fort Supply State Hospital

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Western State Hospital
Established 1875
Opened 1895
Current Status Active
Building Style Cottage Plan
Location Fort Supply, OK
Alternate Names
  • Fort Supply State Hospital
  • Western State Psychiatric Center
  • Western Oklahoma Hospital
  • William S. Key Correctional Center (current)
  • Northwestern Center for Behavioral Health (current)



History[edit]

The first state hospital opened in Oklahoma was Western Oklahoma State Hospital, in Fort Supply. Opening in 1903, however it wasn't until May of 1908 that the first patients arrived from Norman's state hospital (Central State).The hospital used the old Army post's buildings and grounds as the state of Oklahoma's first mental health facility. The grounds were lent to the state by the Dept. of Interior, after the Headquarters of the Army closed Fort Supply. To bring the first patients from a private institution to the new hospital, a road was built from the old post to the railroad station south at Tangier, Oklahoma. Farmers and ranchers from the area furnished buggies and wagons to transport the two train loads of arriving patients to the new hospital.

The hospital and original buildings (left in disrepair by the Army, who had first voted to leave it abandoned) suffered 3 fires before 1916.

Western Oklahoma State Hospital cared for mentally ill people in or west of Kay, Noble, Garfield, Kingfisher, Canadian, Caddo, Comanche, and Cotton counties. In 1950, the hospital had an average daily resident population of 1,318; meaning they were operating 14% over capacity. There are reports of sterilization, mostly of women, being practiced at Western State; as at hospitals Norman, Vinita, Enid, and McAlister penitentiary.

Fort Supply was officially closed in September of 1894 and returned to the Department of the Interior on February 26, 1895.

The Fort Supply Historic District was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. In 1988, the state legislature designated the remaining buildings at the old fort as the Fort Supply Historic District.The Oklahoma Historical Society currently administers five structures and a replica stockade as the Fort Supply Historic Site. Shortly after the 1988 ruling, the William S. Key Correctional Center (a privately owned correctional facility) was opened at the site. The grounds of the old post are also currently occupied by the Northwestern Center for Behavioral Health.

Cemetery[edit]

There are 961 persons buried here. The burial site contains graves of patients from a state-run mental hospital that took over the fort facilities. Plain, gray name markers date to 1908, the year Western State Hospital was established.

Sprinkled in among patient markers are older headstones of civilians affiliated with the military camp, opened in 1868 as a supply post for that year's winter campaign against the Plains Indians. Other graves may be those of squatters and homesteaders who moved in after the camp closed. Bodies of old soldiers formerly buried here were moved to Leavenworth, Kansas.

The most recent grave is that of former Western State Superintendent Dr. William Blyth, who died in 1982. The oldest represents Toch-e-me-ah, wife of Army scout Ben Clarke; Company B Indian Scout Bad Face, and three men believed to have been employees of the Quartermaster's Department.

Toch-e-me-ah's headstone, perhaps the tallest in the cemetery, indicates she died in 1875 at age 22.

Images[edit]