Sunday, Dec 8, 2013
Rough Second Day for Herrin Cemetery Excavation Team
HERRIN -- It was a rough second day of excavation for crews working at the Herrin City Cemetery. They've now dug up several burial plots, but have not found what they're looking for, the remains of 12 Herrin Massacre victims.
The group of historians, geologists, and anthropologists started their Monday by going back to the empty vault they found about a week ago. They hoped expanding the search from there might lead to the bodies, but so far, it hasn't happened yet.
"I had high hopes today that we could clear the target area. It's going too slow," says Williamson County Historian Scott Doody.
Doody and his team believe the victims are buried somewhere in block 15 of the city cemetery, what used to be a pauper's field. More specifically, Doody believes they're in a very small section.
"I'm going to stop when the target area is checked. That's two lots so far, out of six. At some point I'm going to quit. I'm not going to be on a folly, there'll be a point where I'll quit," he says.
The day was not without a little intrigue. The crew returned to the empty vault they found about a week ago that they said showed signs it belonged to a massacre victim. And when they uncovered the earth again, they found pieces of fabric that indicated maybe the vault wasn't actually empty.
"In the field like this, it's hard to tell exactly what that fabric was used for, but we do know that it was directly associated with the burial. It was inside the burial shaft itself, in the wood," explains SIU anthropology graduate student Ryan Campbell.
Campbell says ultimately they did not find any remains and confirmed the vault was empty, likely one of the five victims who were exhumed and brought home to their families.
But Doody and his team say they are far from finished with their search.
"I've dug in about 15, maybe 20 percent of our target area. I've still got about 80 percent of the real estate."
Doody and his team will be back out at the cemetery on Friday. He says if he doesn't find anything in the target area, he will stop looking. The crew plans to update the Herrin City Council on its search Monday night.
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Humidity: 93 %