Friday, Dec 13, 2013
Herrin City Council Clears Additional Searches in Cemetery
WILLIAMSON COUNTY -- Collaboration Monday night between researchers and city leaders led to an agreement for continued excavations at Herrin's City Cemetery. Digging in blocks 15 and 41 will continue with no deadline.
Historians, anthropologists, and geologists presented their findings to city leaders Monday. Their latest dig, last Friday, uncovered five sets of unmarked remains in burial plots belonging to other families.
They say science doesn't work on a time table, that their efforts will continue as long as they have to.
"It's all about respecting not only the citizens of the past, but the citizens who've purchased those lots and want to bury loved ones and those previously interments," geologist Dr. Steven DiNaso explained.
DiNaso says so far, using soil sampling to find unmarked graves, has been 100 percent accurate. A sentiment echoed by his colleagues.
"Every dig was successful, but Friday really turned a corner. Lot of people in sold lots, the Mayor now understands the gravity of the situation," said Williamson County Historian Scott Doody.
A less invasive approach to searching at the cemetery has eased Mayor Vic Ritter's concerns: drilling to check soil samples instead of using a back hoe frequently.
"There is a lot more communication now cuz I think it was fear I really do. Think it's going alright now," Mayor Vic Ritter said.
DiNaso believes future digs will be successful, revealing secrets of the past, and hopefully victims of the Herrin massacre.
"Most certainly we'll find more," DiNaso enthused, "Hopefully we can find all of them or as many as possible to produce a model and map of the cemetery that they can use to officially run the cemetery in that area."
Leaders also decided the excavators don't have to present their findings to city council weekly. Instead, they'll reveal results every couple months.
The future resting place for the remains found is unclear. Mayor Ritter said everything discovered Friday went back where it was found. The poor who were buried in the pauper's field do not have legal rights to the lots and could be moved.
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