Sunday, August 9, 2015

Revisiting and Remembering Lot 17 Burial Ground in Damascus, Ohio

In a quiet patch of land just south of U.S. Route 62 in Damascus lie the interred remains of many Quakers, people who lived and died at least 150 years ago. When members of Damascus Friends Church decided to expand their church building, the place, known as the Lot 17 Burying Ground, was directly in the path of that expansion.

Wanting to handle the situation with the utmost care and respect, the church designated a representative to contact an archaeologist at Youngstown State University to investigate and study the site. Archaeologist John R. White, professor and chair of the department of sociology and anthropology, began a dig at the site March 31, 2001. The dig began with a prayer for the church forefathers and family buried there, and also for the safety and protection of the workers.

White brought colleagues, students and volunteers to the site repeatedly during the spring and summer digging season. Starting with heavy equipment that removed the first, non-critical layer of soil, his team scraped the easternmost section of the burying ground down about 3 feet. Since, as today, most burials are at the 6-foot level, this layer presented no remains nor artifacts. After that, workers took pressurized tanks filled with water and sprayed the revealed earth.  As if by magic or miracle, the graves appeared as dark outlines against the lighter neighboring soil.   We much care, these workers cataloged and removed the remains to have them re interred one block to the East at the Damascus Friends Cemetery.
How this relates to Dark Shadow Ghost Tours?

Well, quite simply, one of those volunteers that worked on that project almost every weekend for two years is none other than Dark Shadow Ghost Tours co-owner Marianne Donley.

Marianne did her under-graduate work at Youngstown University in the field of science.  After graduation and receiving her professional teaching position, she became a member of the Youngstown Area Physics Alliance (YAPA) a group of local area science teachers.   Dr. White visited one of these meetings and offered for the members to come out to the site and be part of the archeological excavation.   When Marianne went out the following weekend, she was hooked. 
“Due to working on this project, I was able to subjects that I learned in college.  I was able to have examples to provide my classroom students as far as DNA, evolution, and data recording and analysis.  This project also opened up doorways to allow me to meet other scientists within the field and to discus many scientific theories, It was an experience I will never soon forget, “ said Marianne.

Marianne spent every weekend (when the digs were not called off due to rain) driving the 30 miles from her home to work on this project.   She learned several different archeological techniques from discovery, cataloging, and removal.

She even scheduled a field trip for her high school students to come and and visit the site on one weekend.  Although on that day, the digs were called off due to rain, the students got to learn the process of archeology and witness true history in the making.
“One of the things that I found most amazing about the project was, I was one of the first to witness these people in almost 200 years.   They laid in the position that they were placed, and we were there to discover them, “ said Marianne.

On Sunday, October 27, 2002, All of the staff, students, and volunteers were on hand for the re-interment of the those buried at Lot 17, into the Damascus Friends Cemetery.   The dedication ceremony was also a part of the dedication of the Ohio Historical Marker that was placed at the sites.  One at the original Lot 17 location and one at the new location at the cemetery.

Revisiting the Location

In the summer of 2015, Marianne and Shawn (Marianne’s husband) traveled back to the location and Damascus to revisit the spot of the original cemetery which is now a parking lot.   Of course, being part of Dark Shadow Ghost Tours, they did a quick EVP session in the parking lot, but there was nothing on the recordings.


They then traveled one block East to the location where the remains were re interred.   The location is right as you enter the Damascus Friends Cemetery and it is marked by the Ohio Historical Marker you see above where Marianne is point at the word volunteer. 


Under the Ohio Historical Marker is a plaque listing all who were buried at the location from the Lot 17 cemetery just a little ways away. 

While at the location, they used the Ovilus and conducted another EVP session.   Please watch the video below for the results of that session.

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1 comment:

  1. The responses are eerie! What an experience to move gravesites!