Council clears way for excavations in cemetery

Council clears way for excavations in cemetery

HERRIN, IL (KFVS) - Monday night the Herrin City Council cleared the way for researchers from Southern Illinois University and Eastern Illinois University to continue their work in the Herrin City Cemetery.

Professor Steven Di Naso updated the council members on their findings over the past few weeks of excavations in the cemetery.

This past Friday they found six occupied graves in the Potter's Field section that had recently been sold to other people for future internments.

"We've been uncovering the past, in those spaces and sold lots," Professor Di Naso said. "We're finding wooden vaults, there's adults out there and there's children out there. We're not disturbing any of the graves. We're just investigating whether or not they are there, and that's what we're finding."

The research into the Potter's Field section of the Herrin City Cemetery began four years ago when Scott Doody, author of "Herrin Massacre," went looking for a World War I soldier's grave in the cemetery. He couldn't find Antonio Molkovich's marker or grave.

In the process of trying to find the grave, it was discovered that Molkovich was one of the 22 coal miners killed in July 1922. He was one of the 16 miners who were buried in the Potter's Field section of the Herrin City Cemetery.

Doody says he's confident that they will find the missing Massacre Miners' graves.

"The city has now allowed us full access. I don't think that will be as contentious as it was a couple of weeks ago," Doody said. "We'll find Antonio Molkovich, a decorated World War I Veteran, and the rest of the Herrin Massacre victims now because I know we're going to have access to the cemetery until we're done working."

The council members all agreed on allowing the excavations and research to continue after the recommendations from Herrin City Attorney John Brewster encouraged them to do so.

"Maybe we didn't give the attention to that part of the cemetery that we should have, we're going to now," Herrin Mayor Vic Ritter said. "Everything is going to be transparent. We would like for the public to stay away while we're doing this for their own safety and the city's liability. But I guarantee you everything will be transparent, whatever happens out there will be known at city council meeting."

The researchers will be back in the Herrin City Cemetery this week to continue their search for the Herrin Massacre victims graves.

Copyright 2013 KFVS. All rights reserved.