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updated: 7/1/2013 10:03 AM

Backhoe operator uncovers historic Ill. cemetery

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PRAIRIETOWN -- An historic cemetery was uncovered in southern Illinois during work to build a new water line.

A backhoe operator was digging a trench for the water line when the gravestones were uncovered just off Route 159 near Prairietown last week. The Telegraph in Alton reports that Fosterburg Water District officials called project engineers, who notified the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency.

Anthropologist Dawn Cobb investigated. She says there was a cemetery in the area in 1873 and a church in 1892. Cobb says the backhoe uncovered broken and fallen markers covered with honeysuckle and poison ivy. She says the gravestones had crosses.

More digging uncovered the outline of a coffin.

The contractor decided to build the water line over an existing line so digging would take place in already-disturbed soil.

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