Possible headstone unearthed at Lincoln construction site
Construction on a vacant lot in Lincoln that abuts a historic cemetery has been stopped by the town after a possible headstone was unearthed.
“Where there’s smoke there’s fire,” said Ken Postle, who is the cemetery coordinator for the Blackstone Valley Historical Society.
When Postle found out the vacant property on Sprague Avenue and River Road was recently sold and under construction, he had a suspicion there were headstones underground.
“I came back last night. I’m walking around. I was here 15 minutes, like I said, and I saw the base right there. It’s plain as day. It’s not a rocket science thing,” Postle said.
Postle believes he found the base of a headstone that dates back to the 1700 or 1800s. He also found stones on the lot that he said marked Quaker burial grounds.
State law prohibits construction within 25 feet of a recorded historic cemetery.
Lincoln Town Administrator Joseph Almond said the property owner was ordered to stop construction while state archaeologists investigate if what was unearthed was a grave marker.
Town records indicate the property is owned by Crescent Properties. NBC 10 News was unable to reach Crescent Properties for comment, but Postle said the developer has been cooperative with him.
Postle said it’s about respecting the dead.
“It gets you,” he said. “Sometimes, you go home and you just weep. You know, because you’re thinking -- as you’re touching these stones -- you’re thinking, ‘I’m the first person to touch these.’”
Technology called ground penetration radar would help archaeologists figure out if there are graves there and how many, Postle told NBC 10.
“Absolutely, but you know based on what we just see over there there’s definitely been people buried there. Whether they’re there now is going to be up to somebody who’s scientific expertise and their equipment is going to be able to determine,” Postle said.
The previous owner of the property, James Walker, told NBC 10 he had no knowledge of the cemetery extending into his former property. Walker said his family used to grow fruits and vegetables on the lot.