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October, 2008, Page 62
While Milestones lays out the hospital’s past in great detail, it gives little or no mention of a few notable patients who made their own marks on history. An early hospital document describes patient Mollie Monroe as a frontier wild woman known for her “caprices, mad acts and adventures…. She carried the proverbial six-shooter and was the wildest roisterer at many midnight escapades.” She died at the hospital in 1902.
The hospital was also home to Corporal Isaiah Mays, a Buffalo Soldier who received the Congressional Medal of Honor in 1890 for defending an Army pay wagon against robbers near Tucson. Mays died at the hospital in 1925 and is buried in the campus’ All Souls Cemetery, which holds more than 2,400 graves dating to 1888.
Patient Winnie Ruth Judd was accused of killing two women in Phoenix in 1931. The victims’ dismembered bodies were found in luggage trunks, and Judd was dubbed the “trunk murderess.’’ She was convicted and committed to the state hospital, where she escaped seven times. Judd ultimately was pardoned and died in 1998.
Today, as Arizona is deciding what to do with the superintendent’s building, government officials and preservationists across the country are alternately saving and losing their territorial “insane’’ or “lunatic’’ asylums.
The 1870 Buffalo State Asylum, with grounds designed by the famed landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, is being preserved. Much of the 1800s Oregon State Hospital – the setting for the movie One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – is being torn down, though preservationists saved a portion of it. Another jewel, the 1800s Fergus Falls State Hospital in Minnesota, is vacant with no firm future plan.
Arizona may have an easier preservation fight on its hands with a single, small building. Ryden is hopeful.
“It can become a wonderful interpretive center for telling the real story,” he says.
— Susie Steckner
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