A mystery solved

Published 1:05 pm Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Some time ago it was reported that a cemetery, located in the heart of the Valley commercial district, was being excavated. News of the excavation brought hope that a century-old mystery related to the number of people buried there would be solved.

Well, we have our resolution, the results of which are both not surprising and somewhat disappointing.

This past Thursday, a pair of workers from Terracon Consultants unearthed the grave of David Dunlap, located in the Shawmut Community next to Pizza Hut.

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What did they find? A grave capstone, some marble slabs and a few antique nails, tacks and glass buttons.

According to Bill Green with Terracon, the body was there but completely decomposed, due to Dunlap’s body being placed there more than 165 years ago.

While Dunlap’s grave had always been the only marked grave, there had been many reports that his family and slaves were also buried in the cemetery. However, after Terracon’s work, Dunlap’s was the only grave found on the site.

It’s not uncommon for stories and rumors to take on a life of their own. Now that we know for a fact that only one person was found buried there, we can make a few educated guesses as to the origin of the story behind the multiple burials.

1. Several people were buried at the site, but only Dunlap’s was marked. As the years passed, the unmarked bodies decomposed the same as Dunlap’s. Unless the entire site is excavated and sifted through, we will never know how many were actually laid to rest at the location.

2. Only Dunlap was buried there. Over the years, exaggerations, tall tales and general misinformation was accepted as truth and never questioned, beyond speculation of how many were there.

Either way, the solution has been given and we must now look to the future of the site. Should it be developed for commercial use, repurposed in some other way or just left as a reminder of days long gone?

Whatever the site may become, it will always be remembered as the Dunlap grave site.