By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
LAWRENCE, KS (KCTV) -
A big dig in downtown Lawrence has failed to unearth any unmarked graves from the Civil War.
After digging nearly all Monday, under the watchful eye of state officials, crews found a bone on the future site of a multistory hotel and parking garage, but it was not the type of bone many historians were hoping to see.
State archaeologist for Kansas, Bob Hoard, said the dig revealed some bones from cows and pigs, along with two cisterns and the outline of an old building.
In a 1903 master's thesis, a University of Kansas student wrote that victims of Quantrill's Raid were dumped in a trench on the property. But Hoard says he found no evidence an open trench ever existed.
Quantrill's Raid took place in August 1863 when Confederate guerrillas invaded eastern Kansas and sacked Lawrence, killing most of the male population. It was one of the darkest moments of the Civil War, an act later condemned by both the North and the South.
That long-standing theory that some of those victims may still lay underneath the vacant lot at Ninth and New Hampshire streets was put to the test Monday.
Robert Green with First Management, the Lawrence company overseeing the construction of a 90-room Marriot hotel at the site, said crews took all precautions necessary.
"Excavated it 6 inches at a time to check to see if there was any remains," he said. "We went down 6 feet, so were are pretty confident if there was anything down there we would have found it."
Lawrence natives who know the story well are glad experts checked the site before any potential damage was done.
"I think it's important for them to respect the past. There may be an option for them to find something when they start digging again," Jeff Tschudy said.
Crews working on the project also said they will keep a close eye out for anything of historical significance once construction begins in December.
Hoard also plans to return once construction begins to keep an eye out for historical artifacts.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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