A northern Virginia school district has been criticized for following through with plans to turn an unruly swath of land identified as a gravesite into a high school football field.
"It's not even the high school," Carolyn Lynn, a genealogist from Manassas, Va., told The Washington Post. "And that kind of adds insult to injury."
At the beginning of the school year, Prince William County high schools announced it would move the cemetery, which they just learned about over the summer, the report said. The report said contractors at the location found evidence of the cemetery in 2008, but for "unknown reasons" did not alert anyone in the school system for years. Some of the graves date back to the 1860s.
"It's very upsetting. These were people who lived there, farmed there, had children….that expected to be there forever."
- Carolyn Lynn, a genealogist from Manassas
Philip B. Kavits, a school spokesman, told the paper that the school division cannot afford to go through a redesign. Work at the cemetery had already started when researchers traced the land to a farm occupied by William Lynn and his wife in the mid-1800s. The graves likely belong to the family. Lynn, the genealogist, believes she is related to the cemetery’s occupants, the report said.
"It's very upsetting," Lynn told The Post. "These were people who lived there, farmed there, had children….that expected to be there forever."
The report said despite complaints, the dig at the site was completed five days later. Workers reportedly found 11 graves and decayed bones and other artifacts.
Kavits told the paper that the school “expressed a commitment to consult further with the community and to work with the Lynn family.” Lynn told the paper she has not heard from the school board.
Later this month, the school board will hold a meeting to listen to the public about what the next steps should be with the unearthed remains.
Local officials are calling for new rules to require land owners to involve citizens before relocating a cemetery, InsideNoVa.com reported.