Skeletal remains found on riverbank probably from an old burial ground
BY CRYSTAL DANIELS Quill Staff Writer
West Plains Daily Quill
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
“We believe it’s some kind of burial grounds of a family or maybe from the Civil War,” Thayer Police Chief David Bailey told The Quill today of human skeletal remains found Sunday.
He said canoers discovered the bones on the banks of the Warm Fork River a mile north of the Mammoth Spring (Ark.) State Park, and on the south edge of Thayer in Oregon County.
He said the property has been owned by the city for about 75 years and that city officials “can’t think of who these people were or where they came from.’’
“The remains were unearthed by the flooding,” said Bailey, referring to the heavy rains this spring and early summer. He added they were in a bend in the river, five feet into the bank and halfway hanging out of it.
The police chief said that at this point the press is not being allowed to photograph the site.
“We’ve been working two days, digging and excavating,” he said. “We initially thought the remains were very old but the teeth seemed to be in good shape and there appeared to be fillings which had us thinking maybe they were 20 to 30 years old.”
Bailey said he sent photos of the remains to Dr. Daniel Wescott, an anthropologist with the University of Missouri-Columbia. “He called back immediately and said they were over 100 years old,” added Bailey.
“Then, yesterday (Tuesday) we found a musket ball in the area while we were excavating, and that made us think they were pretty old,” he said.
“There’s probably bones from two or three different people there,” he said. “We believe it’s some kind of burial grounds. There is nothing to indicate a current day crime has occurred.”
Bailey said they intend to get a second opinion. He also plans today to call the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (DNR) because the remains were found on the river and DNR has an archeological team.
Bailey said the bones will be sent off to be studied.
“We’re looking at it as being ancient,” said Bailey. “We’re going to protect it for now. We have to do something because the river will keep taking that section away. We’re still investigating.”
Bailey said officials with several law agencies have helped with the digging and excavating, including Oregon and Howell County Sheriff Departments, Missouri State Highway Patrol, Missouri State Water Patrol, Missouri Department of Conservation and West Plains Police Department.