Memphis/ Crime & Emergencies
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 20, 2024
Human Remains Suspected in Historical Memphis Cemetery Unearthed at St. Jude Construction SiteSource: Google Street View

A bone unearthed during the construction of a parking garage for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has set in motion an inquiry by the Shelby County medical examiner and Memphis police, as reported by Action News 5. The find, which occurred on a site historically known as the New Winchester Burying Ground dating from 1828, is thought to be human according to a local archeologist.

Remnants of Memphis's past surfaced anew, the bone's discovery near the former resting place of the city's first mayor Marcus B. Winchester, has reminded Memphians of an era long passed, a connection made clear when FOX13 noted the proximity of the remains to the historic figure's supposed gravesite, meanwhile St. Jude confirms it had already brought in an archeologist to monitor the site knowing well its delicate past.

When crews came across the remains underneath a layer of concrete, which was part of an old city-owned facility dating back to 1933, St. Jude specified in a statement acquired by FOX13 that they reached out to authorities, ensuring that the remains were "handled properly and treated with the utmost care."

On the other hand, this cemetery, where now only a park with a playscape stands, was the site of all-encompassing burials where "the wealthy, the poor and all races and religions" coexisted in rest as explained by architectural historian Judith Johnson in an interview with WREG, and it's here that the bone has emerged to renew dialogs not just about the past, but also about the individuals who once made Memphis what it has become, their identities mingled with the city's stride into the future.

In response to the unearthed bone, the city historian James Rout III elucidated, as Action News 5 quotes, that there are explicit procedures outlined in the law to address such discoveries with reverence and respect, adding gravity to the ethical and historical considerations that such findings command, reflecting on how we, in the pursuit of expansion, must still pay homage to the footprints left behind.