SUGAR LAND, TEXAS — A construction project came to a screeching halt when one worker stumbled upon what seemed to be human bones. And it was much more than they could’ve imagined.
According to CBS News, bioarchaeological researchers have uncovered over 95 bodies which were buried on a construction site in Fort Bend County.
And as mentions the report, authorities believe the remains to be those of prisoners who died during the Jim Crow era.
CBS News states that the first sighting of these unmarked graves was discovered in February. During the ground-breaking, the area was being excavated for construction of a new school on the site.
Interestingly, it was the same area where the Imperial State Prison Farm once stood.
The source says the initial finding was discovered by one of the backhoe operators. After reporting it and taking the situation through the proper legal channels, a judge granted permission for the bodies to be exhumed for analysis, say CBS News.
The source continues as follows.
“Of the remains assessed so far, every individual was discovered to be African-American, ranging in age from teenagers to around 70 years old, with builds that exhibited signs of heavy labor. All but one were male.”
According to the source, Reginald Moore advised archaeologists hired by the Fort Bend Independent School District regarding the area’s slavery history, as well as its convict-leasing program.
“I felt like I had to be a voice for the voiceless,” Moore mentioned.
At first, a number of theories were explored about the background of the deceased, but given Sugar Land’s history with sugar production and the nature of the burials, most researchers speculated that the bodies were either of prisoners or slaves.
From what researchers have discovered thus far, the theory that the cemetery is made up of people who passed during the convict-leasing era seems plausible. The time frame of the burials is estimated to be between 1887 and 1911. Convict-leasing was outlawed in Texas in 1910.
Bioarchaeologist Catrina Whitley of Goshawk Environmental Consulting Firm told the Houston Chronicle, “With a slave population, I would expect to see children and more women that are buried because that would just be the cemetery for the slave population.”
“The fact that right now it’s all male but one female really leans us towards [the] interpretation (that they were prisoners),” Whitley said.
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