Tri-State woman says relative is possibly buried on State Hospit - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

Tri-State woman says relative is possibly buried on State Hospital grounds

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A Tri-State woman tells 14 News that her relative is one of dozens of bodies buried on the Old State Hospital grounds in Evansville.
She's hoping DNA testing could prove it.

Archaeologists now believe there are nearly 70 unmarked graves on the State Hospital grounds where the city is planning a pedestrian bridge over the Lloyd Expressway.

Diana Simpson is hoping one of those graves may hold the answer she's been looking for.

"I have her in the census with the people in the State Hospital in Evansville in 1920. She died in 1927," said Simpson.

Pictures of family members fill the walls of her home in Troy, Indiana. One of them taken more than a century ago of her great-grandmother Savannah Persinger Swanney.

"We don't really know why she died or what really happened to her," Simpson said.      

A copy of an old newspaper clipping from 1919 announces Swanney was taken to the Woodmere Asylum, now known as the State Hospital in Evansville. A 1920 census shows her as a patient.

But Simpson says a fire there years later may have destroyed records that show how she died and where she was buried.

"We've had two other people in our family die at the State Hospital and both of them were brought back here to be buried. But this woman was not," Simpson said. 

That's why Simpson believes her great-grandmother may still be underneath the soil on the State Hospital grounds. One of nearly 70 unmarked graves the city will pay to have moved to Oak Hill Cemetery.

"She, we were told, probably was buried of the grounds of that hospital, maybe she might be there," Diana said. "I would like to see some DNA run, some mitochondria DNA which I've got of hers, and bury her back here."  

Simpson says it's possible that her great-grandmother's remains were already uncovered during previous digs.

She says she's not sure if DNA testing is a possibility, but the thought of solving this family riddle is giving her hope.

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