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News of the Township
Mooney's Cemetery Archaeological Survey Begun

For Immediate Release
date: October 4, 2010
Contact: Mari Barnes, Supervisor, 847-432-3240, super@morainetownship.org

MOONEY'S CEMETERY ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY BEGUN

Moraine Township engaged Tim Horsley, PhD, an archaeological geophysicist, to conduct a survey of their historic – and somewhat chaotic – Mooney's Cemetery on Ridge Road in Highland Park. Dr. Horsley arrived from Michigan on September 30 to perfect fall weather for his purposes: utilizing radar equipment rolled along dry ground to capture data in sunny, brisk temperatures.

Much to the delight of Township Records Manager Shannon Mosier, who has been attempting to make sense of the oldest (early 1900s) and more recent (1980s-present) disorganized card file system, Dr. Horsley's survey is expected to yield some answers to the question posed in the Township's last newsletter: What Lies Beneath (and where)?

Horsley, who is from just outside London, England, says that the use of underground exploring in advance of development, for example, is much more commonplace in Europe, but just catching on here. Typically, he is called in to explore what may lie beneath planned excavation projects in historically sensitive locations. His work has taken him to Greece, China and Iceland, among other places. Digging is delayed until researchers like Horsley give the OK, or if historically significant findings are made, delayed until these are carefully studied or objects removed by archaeologists. He has been in the United States for about five years and is an Assistant Research Scientist at the University of Michigan’s Museum of Anthropology in Ann Arbor. Shannon was referred to Horsley by Cuba Township staff who used his services to analyze their cemetery in 2009.

He began by laying out lines of tape as a grid, based on Mooney's plot diagram. Immediately, the obvious truth of grave markers being installed or moved around without regularity was exposed. Many markers were placed as headstones, but others appear at what would seem to be the foot of a plot, in the same row. Shannon adds that some fairly recent "records" identify burials under a particular name, in a designated plot, but in the field one finds the marker elsewhere.

Due to the complexity of processing and interpreting the data fed into his computer from the radar equipment, and other obligations, Horsley predicts that his report may take several months to complete. He did say, however, that it was important to take advantage of the good, dry weather because wet ground can reduce the effectiveness of the technique.

According to Supervisor Mari Barnes, the Township hopes that whenever his report does arrive, "We will be in a better position of knowing where there are bodies buried and where there are none. And from that, perhaps we will be able to resume grave sales, or at least be confident of burying people in deeded plots where there are no previous bodies."

"Once again," says Barnes, "we urge residents who think they have a deed to a Mooney's (or Daggitt) Cemetery plot to please check with the Township in advance of need to see if our records match theirs. When the situation arises for burial, and the residents claiming ownership have no deed and the Township has no record, problems ensue."

Since Shannon was assigned the task of clearing up the records last year, the Township has purchased cemetery management software run on a dedicated computer. Field work was the next step in the process, in part to address flooding issues that occur from time to time at Mooney's. How to address that issue could not take place until the Township had a better idea of what was underground, to avoid disturbing graves.

Thus, Moraine Township is hoping to gain clarity on what lies beneath the grass and trees at Mooney's Cemetery. You can check out our progress, and read about the history of the Township's two cemeteries online at MoraineTownship.org. Dr. Horsley may be contacted at Horsley Archaeological Prospection, LLC, phone (443) 804-6101 or Email: timhorsley@gmail.com.

See online photos of survey

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