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Posted: March 21, 2017 7:55 a.m.

Cemetery relocation initiated in Covington

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A small cemetery within the city limits of Covington will be on the move to make way for a proposed senior living and memory care center, if approved by the Covington City Council.

The cemetery, located at 5377 Eagle Drive, will be moved, if approved by the Covington City Council after a public hearing, to a private plot near the original cemetery. The plot will be dedicated to just this cemetery, Robert S. (Steve) Webb, president and senior principal archeologist of R.S. Webb & Associates, said.

“It is possibly to have individual decedents moved to family plots/cemeteries elsewhere; however, that would need to be discussed and mutually agreed upon by the parties involved,” he said.

“According to the fieldstone markers and grave depressions present at the cemetery, at least 14 graves are present,” Webb said.  “It is always possible that unmarked graves are present, but we are not aware of additional graves.”

Descendants can reach Webb’s firm by contacting Neil Bowen at 770-345-0706 or at rswatower@windstream.net, Webb said.

If descendants cannot be located, which Webb suspects will be the case because none the graves have markers with names inscribed on them, the decedent will be reburied at the relocation site.

“Each grave at the relocation site will be mapped with the appropriate grave number so that if descendants come forth later, they can visit the grave of the decedent at the relocation site,” he said. 

“We are searching for the descendants of early landowners to see they might know who is buried in the cemetery,” Webb said.  “If we get names, then we will attempt to find descendants of those individuals.”

According to the legal notification, published in The Covington News, it is possible members of the Hardy Morgan, John Harris, John Williamson or William Dearing families could be buried in the cemetery.

The cemetery is scheduled to come before the Covington City Council at its April 3 meeting at 6:30 p.m.

Steps to relocating a grave

Webb said relocating a grave is a multi-step process, with the first step being approval by the City of Covington and notification of descendants.

“First, a relocation permit application must be submitted to the local governing authority (in this case the City of Covington) and the relocation approved,” he said.  “ An important component of the process is the identification and notification of descendants through genealogy and various forms of notification (e.g., express mail, email, phone interviews, public notices, news outlets, etc.). This is the reason I am interested in talking to The News: to help get the word out to possible descendants within your circulation/readership areas. “

According to Webb, once the approval has gone through, the process to move the graves also has several steps.

1. Map the grave locations;

2. Mark and set aside grave markers (if present)

3. Carefully remove the soil above the burial remains

4. Hand-excavate the human remains, coffin/casket remains, and any grave goods (rare)

5. Place the remains in individual, marked relocation boxes

6. Transport the boxes to the relocation cemetery

7. Rebury the individual boxes at the relocation plot

8. Make a map of the relocation plot

9. Prepare a report of methods and findings.  

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