This is a graveyard research story about graves left behind and no one knows why.
The 18th century First Baptist Church of Philadelphia took up permanent residence at a Quaker meeting house in the Old City area. After the Quakers moved out, the Baptists built a new brick building and the congregation flourished. An adjacent cemetery was added. Congregants who helped with construction only had to pay one dollar to be buried there. Others paid at least twice that much.
When the congregation got too big for their location they moved elsewhere and made an agreement in 1859 with Mount Moriah Cemetery to have those buried at the first churchyard grave site moved to a select section of Mount Moriah. Unfortunately, according to an article written by Jen Pinkowski, those bodies have not yet been moved. In fact, they were forgotten until bones were unearthed during the ground-breaking start of a new apartment complex on the private property which was outside of cultural heritage jurisdiction.
A few months ago, an emergency archaeology dig to remove all the human remains was assembled. Archaeologists and forensic scientists from Massachusetts to Maryland joined the roughly week-long operation. Approximately 80 sets of human remains were found during the emergency excavation and experts say there are more. A single box of bones turned into 50 boxes, many of them unassociated with coffins. Historical maps show that the excavation took place in the center of the burial area.
Housing the remains where they can be analyzed has become an issue. Crowdfunding efforts are underway to help raise the $20,000 required to store the remains while data on who these people were can be determined. Important information about diet and lifestyle of this cross section of people can be garnered.
After analysis, Pinkowsky writes, the remains will be re-interred at Mount Moriah Cemetery—and the researchers are determined that it will happen this time, unlike in 1859.
To read the complete article about graves left behind, click here.