Bringing Their Stones Home

A plan to return misplaced headstones to the Dane County Hospital & Home Cemetery.

Residents and Staff of the Dane County Hospital and Home in Verona, WI, 1917.

In a small plot of land east of downtown Verona lie the remains of 400 people who spent their last days in the care of the Dane County Hospital and Home between 1883 and 1945.  The Hospital and Home was a safety net that cared for patients suffering from physical or mental illness, the poor, the elderly, orphans and broken families.

Each grave was originally marked with a small, individual monument – all of which were discarded, possibly in the 1950s. 

Today a plaque from 1993 marks the site - but names and headstones are absent.

Recently, approximately 70 of the original headstones have been rediscovered at the former residence of a past hospital employee who reused them for landscaping after they were discarded.

The family living there and the Verona Area Historical Society feel that returning the stones and listing the burials’ names on site would be a great way to show respect for their memory.

The Plan

The Verona Area Historical Society would like to do the following:

  • Return the remaining headstones to the cemetery grounds, installing them to as close as possible to their original locations (using a 1945 plot map).
  • Create and install a permanent plaque listing the names of all 400 people buried there.

A 1949 photo shows the cemetery as it looked before stones were removed.
Image Credit:  Vinje, Arthur M. 10/19/1949.  Courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society.

The same perspective as it exists today.
Image Credit:  Verona Area Historical Society.

Current Status

This project has been approved and signed off on by Dane County.  We are currently going through the required process with the Wisconsin Historical Society to get their permission to disturb the grounds by erecting the monuments and plaque.

Help that will be needed

Once the final approval is granted, we will need assistance with:

  1. Paver Donation:  Around each side of each headstone will be a one foot square landscaping paver - to eliminate the need for weed whacking around each one going forward. 
  2. Gravel Donation:  To prevent heaving during the frost cycle, three inches of compacted gravel will surround the submerged portion of each headstone on all sides (.5 cubic foot of pea gravel per stone).  A four inch bed of gravel will also be necessary under the paver border (2.5 cubic feet of gravel per stone).  That's a lot of gravel!  We will be asking local quarries and landscaping companies for donations.
  3. Assistance with excavation/installation:  We did a test mount by hand with one of the recovered headstones.  Excavating the footprint of the paver bed at a proper depth was very difficult by hand.  We are hoping to find a local landscaping or construction company interesting in assisting.
  4. Donations for the plaque listing names:  We are designing a large plaque listing the names of all 400 burials, and will be holding a special fundraiser for this once we have an estimate on the cost.
If you know someone who would like to help, please let us know at  Thank you!

Further Research

Here are a few resources to learn more about the cemetery, and the Dane County Hospital and Home.

  • "A Grave Situation", An article written about this cemetery by Melissa Seymour and Jim Ferolie, Verona Press, July 24, 2008.
  • "Dane County Hospital and Home, Verona, Wisconsin" by Walter Kietzke, et al. 1993.  A collection of research related to the Dane County Poor House / Home, Poor Farm, and Asylum/Hospital done by longtime Verona residents in the early 1990s.  This was the group who organized erecting the plaque that still stands on the site today.  Many of them have passed on, and we proudly carry their torch.  Included in this collection are names of people buried in this cemetery and another lost cemetery "A".

Questions or Comments?

Please email us at:  Thank you!