When you dig, you never know what you might find, or who you might find. That is the case at the University of Mississippi Medical School in Jackson, Mississippi, where construction workers were recently digging to prepare for the building of a parking garage and dental school on an unimproved tract of their property.
According to reports in the Clarion-Ledger, the University has been sidelined in their construction of the parking garage and dental school by ghosts from the past. Not actual chain dragging, white sheet wearing ghosts, but a ghostly period in Mississippi's history, where certain bodies were not ceremoniously buried and did not receive markers. Many, according to Dr. James Keeton, Dean of the medical school, were believed to be patients of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum, which was previously located at this site until 1935. He believes the bodies were buried there over a century ago. He said none have names.
This breaking discovery has brought shock to this writer, whose great-grandmother, Jane (Holloway) Mathis, apparently died at the Mississippi State Asylum. According to family accounts, she became so obsessed with the Holy Bible, she tried following it perfectly, and lost her mind. Other causes of her mental breakdown may have been brought about by her husband, Quinney Powell Mathis, this writer's great-grandfather, whom she married in 1873. They lived near Houlka, Mississippi in Skuna River bottom. Family accounts, passed down through generations, say that he ran a moonshine still, and kept a concubine in a cabin near his still, close to the river. This may have helped Jane lose her mind.
Another factor that points to the possibility that this writer's ancestor is one of the skeletons found in the recent discovery, is the fact that the writer's brother was attempting a genealogical search of Jane (Holloway) Mathis' grave in the 1980s, and he went to Whitfield, which is the present Mississippi State Hospital (MSH) , and is a psychiatric facility operated by the Mississippi Department of Mental Health. He was denied entry without a court order, so he did not pursue it. It seems he would have been looking in the wrong place anyway. Whitfield became the State Hospital in 1935, and even though the family does have a date of death, or even a death certificate, it is common reason that Jane died before the facility at Whitfield opened, and died at the original facility where all the unknown bodies were found.
It is also very reasonable for this writer to suspect that one of the unknown bodies at the medical school, is his great-grandmother, and even though DNA tests would either confirm or reject this assumption, the medical center is not prepared to go any further with reburial of the corpses. Dean Keeton reported to the Clarion-Ledger that reburial would cost the university about $3,000 apiece, with an expenditure of three million dollars total, which he says the university cannot afford. He says they will build elsewhere.
At this point, more investigations will be made by this writer and other family members in hopes of getting an answer to the question, "Is Jane (Holloway) Mathis buried in a mass grave of the unknown?"
Any future findings will be posted here.