Eva York died in a bathtub in 1896 at the Oregon Asylum for the Insane. After an inquest, which absolved the hospital staff of any blame, no one claimed her corpse, so she was buried in the asylum cemetery and forgotten.Eighteen years later Eva’s remains were exhumed, cremated, placed in a copper urn and forgotten all over again. Today the corroding canister containing her ashes sits on a plain pine shelf in what’s called the “Cremains Room” at the 122-year-old Salem institution, now known as the Oregon State Hospital.
In 1913 -1914 the state of Oregon decided that dead inmates were taking up too much real estate and their bodies were exhumed, cremated and put into these copper canisters. The containers were labeled but the paper labels degraded over the years and the identities of most of those cremated remains are forgotten. David Maisel took a series of photographs of the urns, now made into a book.