Jeffrey Cullen-Dean / The Newnan Times-Herald
Grantville Cemetery may have anonymous graves of Confederate soldiers and slaves buried in its annex and section 11.
The plots of the new Annex A of Grantville Cemetery may already be occupied.
Jimmy Dunagan, a Coweta resident and dowser, met with members of the Granville Historic Preservation Commission and the Grantville Cemetery Trust on Tuesday afternoon to show them what he believes to be unmarked Confederate and slave graves in the graveyard.
Annex A, the expanded section of the cemetery, was approved by city council earlier this year in January.
Funeral dowsing works by holding two metal rods in an L-shape and walking over the site of a burial. When the user stands over the site, the rods intersect. Dunagan said the sticks can identify the sex of the deceased – if the sticks point to the left, the body is female, and if they point to the right, it’s male.
Dunagan said he used his dowsing rods to detect the bodies of men buried in a line in the cemetery annex, which is believed to be a burial site for the soldiers. He said he thinks there are around 1,000 bodies buried there.
The burial sites of the slaves were determined because there were bodies buried between other graves – where there shouldn’t be – he said, in section 11 of the cemetery, and the burial model based on the sex of the bodies is sporadic and without pattern like a blank place of burial.
Selma Coty, president of the HPC and a member of the Cemetery Trust, said the two groups will meet to discuss their next steps and how to confirm Dunagan’s information.
“We will explore this further,” she said. “I’ll try to involve an archaeologist, and we’ll see what happens.”
Marion Cieslik, president of the Cemetery Trust and a member of the HPC, said if Duanagan’s information was correct, the ramifications could be costly. The cemetery would be closed and the graves would have to be exhumed.
“We have to honor these graves and put Christian marks on them, and the slaves are just as important as the Confederate war dead. They are all human beings,” Cieslik said.
However, Cieslik said he remains skeptical of the results.
“Somewhere, someone has to know something about a thousand people buried, so we have to get some hard evidence,” he said. “There is going to be a confirmation process. We have to get some evidence.”
But it’s unclear how the Cemetery Trust will procure the ground-penetrating radar or the expertise to examine the graves.
According to Cieslik, after the construction of the cemetery retaining wall, which cost more than $ 73,000, only $ 5,000 remains in the trust.
Cieslik said he voted against using the funds for the wall.
“Now there are no more funds to do what we need to do with the cemetery,” he said.