Excavators at a local cemetery dug up more than they’d expected. Construction skidded to a halt as concerned officials investigated their surprising discovery -- a century-old graveyard they never knew existed. A viewer sent Hank Philippi Ryan a tip on this story -- and she instantly got some answers.
An earth mover like this was breaking through an expanse of grass for a new admin building here at the Sharon Memorial park -- when with a clang and a shudder --
the digger found something no one had expected.
Frederick Lappin /President, Knollwood Cemetery Corporation, Sharon Memorial Park:
“He stopped immediately and he came and got us so we would see what was going on.”
Turns out he’d touched the top of a grave liner -- the concrete box surrounding a long, buried casket! Construction stopped while they figured out what to do. They called Sharon police to report their baffling find -- and had to wonder -- why was there a grave there? And were there more?
Long-ignored archive records proved there were.
Hank: “You discovered this had been part of a cemetery.”
Hank: “And you didn’t know that before.”
These records showed a hundred years ago -- a small block of burial plots -- revealing nineteen names -- were right where the new construction was about to take place.
Hank: “Why didn’t you know this was a cemetery?”
Lappin: “This was all just grass and trees for as long as we have operated the cemetery since 1948.”
Lappin says backhoe operator stopped just in time.
Lappin: “Because we were able to find it prior to any disruption of any graves, that is a good thing because cemeteries are sacred places.”
The cemetery’s new building will go up on schedule -- but not quite as planned -- memorial park officials have now marked off the long-forgotten graveyard with warning flags -- and will build special protections so it’s never disturbed again.
Hank: “If people had relatives who were buried here, what should they think now?”
Lappin: “That those people will still be where they were initially buried and they should be able to find that information through us.”
If you think one of your ancestors might be buried in one of those unmarked grave -- circa 1901 -- the cemetery has the records and says they’ll be happy to show you.
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