SIU students dig to uncover historic cemetery

Updated: Sep. 27, 2019 at 6:36 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Il. (KFVS) - SIU students dug for pieces of the past underneath land left untouched for several years.

“It’s a mystery," Dr. Mark Wagner, SIU Director of the Center for Archaeological Investigations and Associate Professor in the Anthropology Department, said.

According to Wagner, no one has touched this land since around the 1930s. Now, decades later, students and faculty members dug for possible graves and human remains at the old Jackson County Poor Farm on September 27, 2019.

“And, hills are a nice place to have a cemetery also. So, we just want to find out if this is where they are,” Wagner said.

Justin Shields, a graduate student at SIU, said he used a few devices to sense if there was something unusual under the soil’s surface.

“We’ll see almost like an arch shape on our programs on the computer, and that basically tells us that there’s something there," Shields said.

“Pits under the ground, possibly graves under the ground,” Wagner said.

This dig’s more than just hands on learning experience for students.

“It’s important to know if this cemetery is on this rise so it doesn’t get hurt by some university project twenty years down the road because nobody knows it’s out here,” Wagner said.

According to Wagner, the cemetery should include women, children, Civil War veterans, and a World War I veteran.

“And these people were kind of forgotten in their own lifetime, so now they’re forgotten in death. So now we’re trying to find out where they are buried to help protect them,” Wagner said.

Shields said they did not find human remains yet, but they did dig up wood, nails, and pieces most likely from a coffin, and animal bones.

“So it’s possible that there’s remains at the bottom, we just haven’t reached it yet,” Shields said.

The group plans to continue their search next week.

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