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150 Year Old Graves Discovered

By: Marcus Washington
By: Marcus Washington

Marcus Washington

June 8, 2005

Today the University of Virginia announced a new discovery on grounds believed to date back more than 150 years.

In 1833 a plot of land was purchased by freed slave Catherine Foster.

Now more than a century later, a total of 14 grave shafts believed to belong to the Foster family, have been discovered on what is now
UVA property. Two of those graves were found last week.

"The middle of last week, we were comfortable saying to the University 'We think we found two additional graves that seem to be associated with the cemetery that is known to lie 10-15 feet south of where we're working now'," explained Steve Thompson of Rivanna Archeological

Whether the two graves are connected to the 12 found back in 1993 isn't certain. Archaeologists have also found an original cobblestone path which is believed to have lead to the Foster home. Other dated materials were found as well.

One archeologist pointed out the things they have collected, and how they could have been used "In nature, [like] a flowerpot or storage [item]."

The University makes it certain they have no plans of exposing the remains or moving the cemetery, but they do plan to make the area some type of memorial park displaying the history of the Foster family and the area, which was then called 'Canada.'

"Whatever information we find archaeologically and through archival research we will be putting that on the site in the form of signage so that people who come to the park will know what they're looking at," said University Landscape Architect Mary Hughes.

With so much to look at and explore in this little area, the community can learn what it was like here in the 19th Century.

"Enhancing the historical record for posterity is an important aspect of this project to the community," added Hughes.

The viewing of the actual graveshafts were not shown to the public. The new findings will not alter the University's plan for the site. The Rivanna Archeological Services says they will be surveying the area for about 3 months, looking for more remains.


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