Historic graves moved for construction project

SUGAR LAND, TX In preparation for expanding the roadway of FM 1464 at Old Orchard Road, workers want to make sure they find all the remains they can which belong inside this historic black cemetery. Several feet below the surface, Department of Transportation crews and archeologists are digging for links to the past.

"Coffin nails, coffin wood, coffin hardware, tacks," said Anthropologist Dr. Cassandra Hill.

They've already found remains just inches from the roadway.

"What had been a complete torso," Dr. Hill said.

On Tuesday workers located more bones. They're from graves which have gone unmarked for decades at the New Home Cemetery, located adjacent to FM 1464 in Fort Bend County -- a road that one day will be expanded from two lanes to four.

Woody Jones with Project Respect said, "These graves here were actually 18 feet that way."

Jones and his organization have made it their mission to preserve and restore abandoned and neglected historic black cemeteries.

"These people out here are the people that built Sugar Land. These people worked at the sugar mill, these people worked at the prisons," Jones said. "These are the people on whose shoulders and whose backbone built this community."

Several years ago Project Respect moved marked graves away from FM 1464 but TxDOT has come in to make sure no remains were missed. Some of the graves date back to the late 19th century. The road and homes were built much more recently.

"There's a satisfaction there," Jones said. "There is a satisfaction that this one did not go the way of the development."

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