"Hard to swallow:" Dozens of unmarked graves found in Anmoore cemetery

Published: Jul. 14, 2017 at 6:56 PM EDT
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Over the course of the last week, crews working on the land of an old cemetery in Anmoore came across dozens of unmarked graves.

"There's quite a few people buried here everyone just kinda forgot about," said a bewildered John Kester, who owns the cemetery at Mount Zion Church up the road.

Records acquired from the Harrison County Courthouse show that XTO Energy Inc. has owned the remains of Fraternal Memorial Park since 2008.

Crews were recently hired to clear out brush in the area. When they arrived on scene last week, they came across dozens of indentations in the ground, where people had been buried.

They marked the graves with orange flags.

"It wouldn't be a bit surprising to say maybe three-quarters of the graves here are unmarked," said David Houchin, special collections librarian with the Clarksburg-Harrison County Public Library.

Houchin says the cemetery, which is believed to have been all black, was established in the 1920's. 5 News obtained a copy of a plat dating back to 1928. It was the earliest survey of the land that we could find.

"Often we say somewhere between a third and a half of the graves in a cemetery are unmarked," Houchin explained. "In a black cemetery like this one, the percentage is probably a little higher, you know, for money reasons. And because a few years after it was established, the Great Depression came, and out-migration of families and so forth."

So what does the future hold for this land? 5 News called XTO Energy but we have not heard back.

It's unclear what plans the company has for the land, which records show is 2.64 acres.

5 News also obtained a copy of a deed from 1928, between Davis-Hornor Company and Reality Development Company. One part of the deed reads as follows:

"But the party of the first part covenants to and with the party of the second part that no well shall be drilled upon the premises hereby conveyed for oil or gas without the written consent of the party of the second part or its assigns first had obtained, which covenant shall run with the land hereby conveyed."

It's not clear if subsequent deeds have been amended.

In a statement to 5 News, a representative of Harrison County NAACP chapter wrote "I think it's a sacred ground and should be maintained."