STURGIS – The skeletal remains found south of Sturgis have been in the ground for a long time.
That is the preliminary finding of Caroline Isaac, a forensic anthropologist with the Kalamazoo County Medical Examiner's Office. Isaac and her colleagues came to Sturgis Tuesday morning when skeletal remains were found on the property just south of Burr Oak Tool on South Nottawa.
More remains were found Wednesday morning, and Isaac was back to collect them for examination. During a Wednesday afternoon news conference at Sturgis City Hall, Isaac shared that she did a preliminary examination of the bones. She said she looked at tooth wear that can be indicative of older remains.
She says the bones are very well skeletanized and are the color of the soil, meaning they have been there a long time.
Isaac says the remains that were found are of three adults and two children. They are not complete sets of remains, but portions of individuals. Isaac says they have not seen anything in the primary internment area, but only after they have been removed.
Also found was a piece of hardware, which looks like it could be the handle of a coffin. Isaac says it will also be examined and tested.
Isaac says more remains will likely be found as work continues on the pond at Burr Oak Tool. She says they will continue to examine what has been found and any that may yet be discovered. They will Carbon 14 test the remains and try to put them together to determine exactly how many individuals are there.
Sturgis Director of Public Safety Geoffrey Smith shared that additional remains were found on South Nottawa on the south side of the Burr Oak Tool building Wednesday morning. They were found in the same location where the initial discovery was made Tuesday.
Smith says he was told by St. Joseph County Veterans Affairs Coordinator Stoney Summey that it's possible the remains may be of an original settler of Sturgis. Summey says he was contacted by Anne Davis about an individual named David Randall who lived in that area and who had fought in the Revolutionary War. They wanted to find where he was buried and get a headstone for him.
Summey says they have searched the property for several years to determine where he was buried to get a grave stone for him, but have been unsuccessful in finding him.
Summey says when he heard about the discovery of the remains, he reached out to Davis and they did some more research. They learned there was a school that used to be in that area. It is is also believed that the building was used as a church and there may have been a cemetery.
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