Remains might be from Civil War, anthropologist says

Published 12:07 pm Friday, March 4, 2011

Excavation of burial remains of a partial skeleton in a vacant lot at the north end of Monroe Street ended Thursday afternoon when digging turned up no additional bones, Warren County Coroner Doug Huskey said.

The bones, found less than 24 hours earlier, were determined to be human and appeared to have been part of a body that had been properly buried many years ago, perhaps during the Civil War, an anthropologist with the Mississippi Crime Lab said.

“It’s Vicksburg, so it wouldn’t surprise me if it was from that era,” said Lynee Boackle, who oversaw the digging and sifted through soil removed from the gravesite Thursday morning.

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Boackle said the burial appeared to be isolated and a search for additional graves in the area was not warranted.

Huskey said the bones were too old and brittle to be age-tested. He and deputy coroner Ronald C. Reagan, who conducted a preliminary examination shortly after they were found by a nearby homeowner, planned to turn them over to Vicksburg officials for burial at Cedar Hill Cemetery.

“There’s no way of knowing what happened to the rest,” Huskey said of the partial skeleton. “It’s been there a long time.”

The leg bones, including femurs, knees, lower leg bones and ankles, were found by Pam McFerrin, who with her husband, Elvin McFerrin, owns the nearby Governor McNutt House and a building that housed the former Children’s House Montessori school.

McFerrin enjoys looking for artifacts such as minie balls and pottery shards in areas near her historic home and was digging in the vacant lot just north of her property when she noticed the bones, which might have been partially uncovered by recent rains.

The site was disturbed in 2010 by heavy equipment when the city ordered the demolition of a derelict home on the property.

“You never know what you are going to find when you start digging around here,” she said. In their courtyard, the McFerrins have uncovered large pieces of granite, shaped for some unknown use, as well as pottery and other artifacts.

Also, a Louisiana soldier killed during the Siege of Vicksburg in 1863 is buried and has a headstone in the courtyard at the McNutt House, which was built in 1826 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.