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Evidence of human remains uncovered in excavation where historic Williamsburg church stood

first baptist church excavation.jpeg
Posted at 3:57 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 17:33:28-05

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. -- Roughly six months after a team of archaeologists started excavating the site of the original First Baptist Church, they revealed today a breakthrough finding. Dr. Jack Gary, the lead archaeologist, explained what that finding was.

"We do have evidence of human remains in these disturbed trenches,” Gary said.

The remains were taken to a local laboratory, where it was confirmed some of the found fragments were human.

"We do have, at least, a tooth and one probable finger bone,” Gary added.

He said figuring out who the remains belonged to will not be easy.

"Being able to identify individuals - like a named individual - is difficult, if not impossible,” Gary said.

Connie Harshaw, a member of the church and president of Let Freedom Ring, said church records were destroyed in either a flood or fire.

“But what is the records that are being passed down through family,” She said.

The excavation on Nassau Street, where the original church has stood since the 1800s, started because of a desire to learn more about the church's history. They were hoping to find artifacts and objects that would best tell the history of the church.

Harshaw said they did not think human remains would be uncovered.

"As soon as we got confirmation from Jack,” Harshaw explained, “and the team that there was a possibility for there to be grave shafts there, it took on a different meaning."

They said they are not sure how many grave shafts there could be or how long it'll take to uncover them.

Church members in the meeting were asked if anyone objected over continuing the excavation. There were no objections.

Harshaw added residents started telling them of loved ones buried there before.

"We've got to do this, and we've got to do it the right way. We think that this is what we're doing in Williamsburg."

The speakers said the next update may come after the shafts are investigated.