Radar being used to uncover the number of graves at 1850 Manatee Burying Grounds

Radar being used to uncover the number of graves at 1850 Manatee Burying Grounds
1850 Manatee Burying Grounds (Source: The Manatee Burying Grounds)

MANATEE COUNTY (WWSB) - Thanks to a grant, the 1850 Manatee Burying Grounds will be closer to knowing exactly how many graves are located in the historic cemetery.

The cemetery was founded in 1850 and closed in 1892 and closed to all but a few family members. The first pioneer settlers of Bradenton, Josiah and Mary Gates, are buried there, as well as 14 Civil War soldiers, and three members of the Florida Secessionist Convention including John C. Pelot, President of the Convention, and Brevet Brigadier General John Riggin, Aide de Camp to Ulysses S. Grant.

The 1.92 acre cemetery at 15th Street East and 6th Avenue East was rumored to be full, but if it is, many of the graves lack markers. It’s a question that’s lingered for decades because on the surface, there is a lot of open space.

The last records made were in 1976 by a 4-H group that recorded 94 graves. But since that time, a third of those markers are missing.

Now officials will have a better idea of what’s below ground. Friday, ground penetrating radar was used on the cemetery to see below the earth so custodians can record the size, depth and pattern of the graves in the cemetery.

The information gathered from the radar images will be used to map, document and develop a master plan for the cemetery, as well as develop an online interactive digital map.

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