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18th Century Cemetery Found in New Orleans Man’s Backyard

Kerry Maloney, The Times-Picayune

Kerry Maloney, The Times-Picayune

It is not uncommon for relics of the past buried underground to be rediscovered after being long-forgotten with the passing of time. For many homeowners, this discovery can be an exciting yet unexpected addition to a residential renovation, as was the case for Vincent Marcello in New Orleans. When Marcello decided to repurpose his New Orleans backyard with the addition of a swimming pool, he found that his property had a haunted past as the former site of the St. Peter’s Cemetery. Shortly after breaking ground, workers had unearthed 13 caskets containing human remains.

A backyard pool becomes an archeological dig.

Before beginning to dig for a backyard pool, Marcello was aware that there was a long history on his property, but he did not think that human remains would be awaiting his discovery underground. When caskets were discovered, he contacted an archaeologist named Ryan Gray, who was a faculty member at the University of New Orleans capable of tracing the history of these remains.

The historic St. Peter’s Cemetery is rediscovered.

The 13 caskets found on Marcello’s property were said to have been stacked directly on top of each other, which is no surprise, considering that the cemetery had closed in the late 1700s due to significant overcrowding. Gray had recalled that there were accounts stating that you could not dig in the cemetery without finding remains already in the earth. He suspects that the caskets and remains left behind were those of relatives of poor families that could not afford to have the remains unearthed and reburied in the St. Louis Cemetery. Upon their modern discovery, the remains would be moved in a public reburial.

This article is part of our STRANGE THINGS FOUND DURING HOME RENOVATIONS blog series.

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