Archaeologists search local cemetery attempting to solve Revolutionary War-era mystery

SALEM, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Archaeologists returned to a Salem cemetery after a woodchuck unearthed a human bone last fall.

A town resident was walking his dogs in September 2014 when he made the discovery. A human arm bone had been unearthed by a woodchuck in the Salem Revolutionary War Cemetery.

The bone was found in an unmarked corner of the cemetery. Archaeologists with the New York State Museum returned to the site on Tuesday to perhaps rewrite history.

salem cemetery arm bone

“It disrupted a grave that wasn’t marked,” New York State Museum Curator of Bioarcheology Lisa Anderson said. “You can see most of them that are here are marked, so the question was how many here were like that.”

The finding could have historical significance. There’s a Salem legend that some Revolutionary War soldiers were buried there, and perhaps the bone is part of their remains.

“After the Battle of Saratoga, the American soldiers were taken from the field on covered wagons and brought to Salem,” Salem Town Historian Al Cormier said.

“We didn’t find evidence of that or we haven’t, yet,” Anderson said. “Maybe this will pick something up. Maybe another woodchuck will pick something up here, and we’ll be proven wrong.”

As for Cormier, he wasn’t disappointed in the preliminary findings.

“It’s really been exciting for us to have the museum here,” he said.

The archaeologists aren’t sure who the arm bone belonged to, but they said it likely dates back to the Revolutionary War-era.

A definitive answer on the mass gravesite is expected on Friday.

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