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> Unearthed caskets hold mystery bodies
post Apr 12 2009, 04:26 PM
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Group: Root Admin
From: Lilburn, GA
Inman, Bradley, Byers, Derreberry, Owensby and all various spellings thereof

Saturday, April 11, 2009 3:14 AM
By Dana Wilson

LEWIS CENTER, Ohio -- Archaeologists found human remains inside some of the caskets that surfaced this week because of erosion along the eastern bank of Alum Creek in Delaware County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said yesterday.

Four of the five unearthed caskets contained bones, but their identities are a mystery because no headstones or markers were found at the excavation site, said Aaron Smith, an archaeologist with the Corps' Huntington District.

"That's worsened, in this case, because records of the cemetery were burned in a fire," Smith said.

The remains were buried at least 50 years ago in what was once Cheshire Cemetery, but they apparently were left behind when the Alum Creek Dam was built in 1973 and the cemetery was relocated.

Remnants of pine boxes that lined the graves were exposed along the reservoir's shoreline, Smith said. The caskets will remain intact during the Corps' investigation out of respect for the deceased and their families. "We're not opening them up entirely."

The Corps already has contracted with DeVore-Snyder Funeral Home, which is authorized to move the remains, Corps officials said.

"What's expected is, they'll move those remains to the cemetery where all the other caskets were moved," said Chuck Minsker, a Corps spokesman.

The site is 2 miles north of the Alum Creek Dam near the intersection of Cheshire and Africa roads. Authorities have roped off that area, and park officers are monitoring it to discourage the curious.

The Corps plans to search for more remains in five or six nearby areas, Smith said.

Early records of the old Cheshire Cemetery were kept by a local family but were destroyed when the family's home was struck by lightning and caught fire, said Bill Wachtel, whose grandparents lived on a farm that was across the street from the former cemetery.

The reservoir's construction was hotly contested because it buried a lot of local farms, he said. His grandparents moved in

1974 when the area was flooded.

"I hunted all that ground up there when I was a kid," Wachtel said. "My grandfather was probably the last one to move."

He and his grandfather helped move the cemetery when it was relocated by the Corps, and he said he suspects that other graves haven't been unearthed.

"There's more there," he said.


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