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Mississippi State Hospital
Governor AG Brown made the first public proposition to establish a hospital for the insane in 1846. In 1848, the Mississippi Legislature appropriated funds for the original facility, which opened in 1856 at the present site of the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson. The institution became a highly contested site during the Civil War. Under the direction of General William T. Sherman, the Union Army ransacked the institution during the early stages of the occupation of Jackson in July 1863. Union soldiers plundered the storeroom and garden, and slaughtered numerous livestock. Making matters worse, seven of institution’s ten employees left their jobs and joined the Union Army.
Two notable developments occurred at the institution during Reconstruction. The institution began admitting black patients in 1870. Indications show that black and white patients resided in neighboring wards in the same buildings for a majority of the institution’s 85-year operation. Secondly, in 1871, the state legislature mandated weekly visits to the institution by its trustees. Such a mandate shows its usefulness in the institution’s yearly death rate of roughly 21 per year during most of Reconstruction. Due to the lack of upkeep and lack of funding, Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum became dilapidated during the late-19th century. Until 1894, the institution relied on coal oil lamps and candles for lighting, and a local pond for water. In 1892, a fire broke out that destroyed two-thirds of the institution’s major building and claimed one patient’s life. Spurred by this devastating fire, the state legislature appropriated funds to begin having electric light fixtures installed throughout the institution in 1894. Click here for more...