The Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital was closed July 1, 1998 after a run of some 60 years. Today's Psychiatric Hospital Professionals say that for the most part, people go through state hospitals quickly. They are stabilized, they get care and are moved out. But the people in Marlboro spent long periods of their lives locked away, not really learning anything new and just get getting minimum custodial care. Over 940 patients died at Marlboro and most were buried at a small cemetery across the highway from the Main facility.
August 25, 2009 visit: Efforts to sell the 500 acre hospital property had been unsuccessful and the property was used by the NJ State Police for training.
July 12, 2010 visit: The State Police were gone and an Environmental Investigation sign was posted next to the security guard house.
The cemetery is located on the other side of Highway 520 from the main hospital entrance security house. The entrance is easily missed except for a small Monmouth County Park Lands sign next to the cinder/dirt road leading up to the cemetery on top of the small hill. The cemetery is open to the public, but cannot be seen from the highway.
All of the graves, except for one, are marked with just a numbered headstone with no name. Early on, the numbered headstones were the only identification, making it a sort of "cemetery of the unknown". But in 1991, the state built a pavilion that cross referenced the markers with the names in bronze tablets. It is now a more fitting tribute to those who died.
THE MYSTERY OF DOROTHY ?
Walking the cemetery, one can see over 920 markers with no names, just numbers; except for one solitary headstone for Dorothy R. Henson. Wanting to see if there was more information on the bronze register, I checked the before and after markers, because they are all in numeric sequence. The before marker was 303 and the after marker was 305, so I looked up 304. HOW ODD: the name on the register was Dorothy R Hensan, not Dorothy R Henson as it appears on the headstone. Was there a spelling error on the engravers part or a misleading name to shroud even more the mystery of Dorothy ?
On the bronze register I saw that Martino Zambetto, who died in 1931, was the first to be buried in this cemetery. Seeking to photograph the first marker, I found the #2 marker and the #3 marker, but...... the original #1 marker was missing. Yet another mystery surrounding this cemetery.
CEMETERY RE-VISITED 2011
November 26, 2011. Since posting this webpage over a year and a half ago, I was surprised at the number of hits the page received for what I thought was an obscure subject. I decided to revisit the cemetery to see if there were any changes.
The first thing I noticed was how excellent the Monmouth County Park System cleared the road after Hurricane Irene. It was evident from the amount of downed trees and debris at the side of the road that visitors could not have driven up to the cemetery without the cleanup.
The next thing I noticed was that the cemetery was well maintained, as there were no weeds in and around the markers.
There were three patriotic visitors that remembered those that passed, by planting an American Flag.
I thought, on a slim chance, that someone may wish to see the names of those who died, so I posted them. It turns out that some folks were tracking ancestry and several found their relatives' names here:
I didn't mention this on my first visit in 2010 but there are two different kinds of markers. The first 600 or so had fat concrete and stone markers, after that all the markers were thin and pre-fabricated.
The completed cemetery had a road around the circumference; however, at some point an additional road bypass was added separating the cemetery into two sections. Perhaps because the original road at the bottom was sometimes covered by debris from a large stand of trees? In any event I walked the very first set of markers and found that the plan was to have 12 markers in each row. What I discovered was that in order to put in the new road bypass, markers 12, 24, 36, 48, 60, 72, 84, 96, 108, 120, 132, 144, 156 etc. were missing ? That led to the unanswered question: were there graves underneath, or urns underneath or just markers? At one point in my walk, several markers were completely out of sequence, so perhaps the missing markers were placed somewhere else, but I couldn't find them.
I thought I would cross the street and see if there were any changes to the main site. There is very little to see as the area is off limits. While at the gate a Holmdel Police car was exiting the site and the officer said he was responding to some trespassers who will be given a $1000 summons. The 'No Trespassing' signs are clearly visible.
CEMETERY RE-VISITED FEBRUARY 2012
I received an email from a stranger who found my webpage with a Google search and wanted to know if I could find the marker for James McAvoy #862. I remembered that the higher numbers were located toward the north so I walked the area and finally found the 800 series.
As I walked the 800 series, I discovered a large physical gap on the grounds from about 805 to 890. Oh no... missing markers perhaps?
Not giving up easily, I did more walking and found that the missing 800 series markers were removed from their logical east-west numbered series and installed in a north-south direction parallel to the cemetery road. I found marker 860. 861 was missing, but I did find #862.
Across highway 520, is the hospital itself; however, there is a high fence and the main buildings are far off the road. Next to the cemetery is a church that has some elevation and with a telephoto lens I was able to just make out the main building.
CEMETERY RE-VISITED APRIL 2012
April 7, 2012 visit: After a 10 year search of state records to no avail, it was amazing that a stranger, using a Google search to locate my webpage, found her great-grandmother by viewing the names on the bronze plaques. It finally gave the family member closure and gave me a good feeling for posting the photos.
Another tiny piece of history seemingly ignored, but still available for the public to visit.
Update November 15, 2012: I received an email from a lady who was tracking her dad. She pointed out that the cemetery stopped showing names by the year 1960, but her dad died at Marlboro in 1962. Unfortunately I had no information beyond the photographs that I took, so I did a Google search for information on Marlboro Psychiatric Hospital records and this is what I found: