In a field next to Morris Hill Cemetery, the fill-dirt excavated to make graves for the nearby cemetery forms one giant pile. The area is the perfect kids’ playground, ideal for playing hide-and-go-seek and the surrounding open field is one of the only spaces for neighborhood residents to let their dogs run. One such neighborhood resident, who prefers to remain anonymous, claims to have found coffin handles and hardware he believes are from caskets. Two weeks ago he found what he thought was a human bone on top of a fill-dirt pile while walking his dog. The man reported the find to the police, who then contacted cemetery management. While the bone was not officially authenticated as human, it was assumed to be so by the police and Jack Wilkerson, the cemetery manager.
“It has happened once or twice,” said Wilkerson. He explained that the 1967 widening of Emerald Street resulted in many graves needing to be moved in a “quick fashion.” These graves were some of the oldest in the cemetery, dating back to the late 1800s, and it is assumed that some of them were missed. Wilkerson said that today, when an empty plot in that part of the cemetery is excavated for a new grave, the older graves which may have been missed in 1967 are encountered.
“We dump the fill-dirt out on the pile in the field but diggers with a backhoe don’t notice pieces in a half cubic yard of dirt,” he said. “Modern coffins are required to use vaults, concrete or fiberglass, but those older coffins were wood and have rotted away. They’ve had the same problem over at Pioneer Cemetery with old graves exposed in erosion.”
Without any way to determine whose grave the alleged human bone may have belonged to, it was reburied in the general area of the cemetery from where cemetery officials think it may have come.