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Thread: Mass Grave Found in Alabama

  1. #1

    firehot Mass Grave Found in Alabama

    http://www.wtsp.com/news/national/st...03297&catid=81


    Click here to see a photo gallery from the scene.
    Montgomery, Ala. -- The city, which accidentally stumbled upon two mass graves during a construction project Tuesday, is still trying to determine the facts surrounding the 11 sets of human remains that were discovered.
    Eight of the skeletal remains appear to be from the 1800s, but three are believed to be from 1977 or later.
    The fate of the skeletal remains found in the two mass graves outside the edge of Oakwood Cemetery will depend on the age of the bones.
    Authorities will now begin the process of dating the 11 sets of human remains found early Tuesday morning as city maintenance crews were preparing a site on city property for a new storage facility, according to city spokesman Michael Briddell.
    "Right now, we've stopped construction," said Briddell, who added that the city is doing what it can to preserve the integrity of the site and dignity of those buried there.
    Eight skulls were found at the bottom of a slope between the city's property on North Ripley Street and the historic Oakwood Cemetery. Preliminary analysis indicates that the owners of those bones could have fallen victim to a yellow fever outbreak in the 1870s, according to Briddell.
    But there were three skulls found at the top of that hill that were buried after 1977, according to information relayed from the Alabama Department of Forensic Sciences to city officials. A state scientist found a type of plastic with the remains that was not brought to America until 1977.
    Homicide detectives with the Montgomery Police Department were called to the scene Tuesday morning but were dismissed once foul play was ruled out for both burial sites.
    Once the remains were discovered Tuesday, no more digging was done, so it is possible that more human remains are at the site. The bodies were not in any type of container, such as a coffin, indicating that they were simply buried en masse.
    City maintenance crews found the remains about 8:15 a.m. Tuesday as they leveled the dirt so that a foundation could be poured for a new metal storage building. The facility was being built on a site where three other maintenance buildings stood until last week when they were torn down.
    Although there are as yet few explanations for the more modern remains, historians have a good idea about the others.
    "Generally, when you have a mass grave, there's a reason you're putting more than one body in a single hole," said Rickie Brunner, archivist in the research room at the Alabama Department of Archives and History. "It will be interesting to find out what caused their death because that may date it."
    A forensics test on the remains may determine if the yellow fever theory is true. But Brunner said it's plausible, since there were numerous yellow fever outbreaks from the mid-1800s to 1905.
    Brunner said the Alabama River made Montgomery susceptible to the mosquito-born disease. The first steamboat to travel upstream from Mobile -- the steamboat revolutionized travel in the 19th century -- arrived in Montgomery in 1821, and steamboat traffic was common up until the 1930s.
    The most severe outbreak of yellow fever in Montgomery was in 1873 when 500 cases were reported, with 108 of those people succumbing to the disease. Another breakout in 1897 infected 120 people, causing 11 deaths.
    "People were scared. It seemed that there were so many cases at once," Brunner said.
    Newspaper articles from the late 19th century reported that mule-driven wagons traveled through Montgomery to collect the dead bodies for mass burial, Briddell said. The bodies were buried quickly to reduce risk of the disease spreading further.
    The remains that were found Tuesday lie about 40 feet away from the nearest grave in Oakwood Cemetery, but a wooden fence separates the site and the cemetery. The oldest nearby grave in Oakwood Cemetery was dated 1906, but the majority of the tombstones had dates ranging from 1918 to 2000.
    Oakwood Cemetery, which was the city's first cemetery, now has as many as 20,000 unmarked graves in it. A small historical booklet, written by the Landmarks Foundation, mentions the possibility of unmarked graves on the city lot where the bones were found Tuesday.
    "Unmarked graves are said to still exist near the city maintenance department building. As far as we know, no lasting records were kept as to these burials, probably because deaths were occurring so rapidly and because the relatives of many of the dead had no money," the booklet states.
    If the bones found Tuesday are older than 75 years old, the Alabama Historical Commission will have jurisdiction over the remains, according to Communications Coordinator John Greene.
    Any remains younger than that could become a public health department issue, according to Stephen Jones, archeology technician with the University of Alabama's Office of Archeological Research.
    Jones said it could potentially become an "archeological issue" once the ages of the bones are determined. But because of the "ambiguous nature of the remains" found Tuesday, Jones said there "was not enough evidence there for me to say whether they are 50-year-old remains or 150-year-old remains."
    Video and Photo at Link
    Last edited by Starless; 04-01-2009 at 03:37 PM.

  2. #2
    Texaskowgirl Guest

    Default Re: Mass Grave Found in Alabama

    This articles, doesn't address the possible remains from the 70s....

    http://www.wsfa.com/Global/story.asp...9&nav=0RdEYN5n

    Mass grave found in downtown Montgomery

    Posted: March 31, 2009 12:13 PM CDT

    Updated: April 1, 2009 07:22 PM CDT

    Video Gallery <1>

    Mass Montgomery grave still holds a story
    1:59
    Mass grave found in Montgomery
    2:46




    MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - The discovery of numerous bodies Tuesday by construction workers at a city lot in downtown Montgomery is drawing national attention. In all, officials say they've recovered remains of 11 humans, including at least eight skulls.

    Montgomery Police spokesman Major Huey Thornton said it's believed the bodies are from a mass grave of victims who died of a Yellow fever outbreak sometime in the early 1800's.

    A structure built on the burial mound in the 1940's was recently torn down in order for the city to build a new complex, Thornton said. He added that officials don't believe there's any cause for concern. The lot where the remains were found butts up against the Oakwood Cemetery property.

    State historians say the burials were quite common in the 19th century as Yellow fever spread throughout the south. "They had to bury the bodies quickly," said state archivist Rickie Brunner. "They were scared that having dead bodies around may spread the disease even more."

    With construction now at a standstill, research begins. "Burials are always an interesting window in the past, because we forget what things were like at that time," Brunner said.

    The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia says Yellow fever is transmitted to humans through mosquitoes. The disease is common in tropical regions like Africa and parts of South America according to the CDC, and is very rare in the United States. In fact, there hasn't been an epidemic of the illness in the U.S. since 1905.

    Research showed that the outbreaks caused mass panic and quarantines. The checking of boat passengers and train riders for symptoms was not uncommon. And though the mass grave is making news today for having been under our feet for so long without our knowledge, it too was a common practice when the fever claimed its victims.

    The construction site has now been turned over to a historical society for research purposes. It's not known when, or if construction will begin again on that site.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Mass Grave Found in Alabama

    http://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/.../NEWS/90403049

    Authorities have determined that some of human remains found Tuesday in downtown Montgomery in what appeared to be a mass grave were disposed of as medical waste after 1977.

    The bones were among those discovered on city property as crews leveled the dirt for a new maintenance storage building. Another set of bones discovered Tuesday are believed to be the remains of those who died of yellow fever in the 1800s.

    The city is in the process of having the bones tested so that the actual age will be known. City officials are also working with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management to determine what should be done with the remains and the site, which is located next to historic Oakwood Cemetery.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Mass Grave Found in Alabama

    Medical Waste ??

  5. #5
    Texaskowgirl Guest

    Default Re: Mass Grave Found in Alabama

    Quote Originally Posted by Starless View Post
    Medical Waste ??
    Amputations? Donated to medical research? Seems they should of had to have same burial standards, as regular remains, for health purposes??? I think now days, they would cremate them?
    Last edited by Texaskowgirl; 04-03-2009 at 03:45 PM.

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