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Let the Bones Be

NORTH MANHEIM TOWNSHIP — Let the bones be. That’s the call PennDOT is making for the human remains found along Route 61 near Schuylkill Haven. The b...

NORTH MANHEIM TOWNSHIP -- Let the bones be.

That's the call PennDOT is making for the human remains found along Route 61 near Schuylkill Haven.

The bones were found last month by construction crews working on the Route 61 widening project. Then, the state wanted the public's opinion on what to do with the bones. PennDOT says the majority of people said leave it alone.

"Leave where they're at! Leave them there. They've been there since 1918," said Elaine Gilbert of Schuylkill Haven.

Research from the state proved that the place was a burial ground for probably 100 years, starting in the mid-1800s.

It's also believed that many people who died from the Spanish Influenza in 1918 were buried here, there are more than 100 bodies here.

Some say since the discovery, the land should be considered sacred and left alone.

Vanco Georgevic of Pottsville said, "I come originally from the old Yugoslavia. They're very dear to our hearts, as far as the memories concerned of these loved ones who passed away."

Schuylkill county officials say they may have to dig up a few more bones, ones that are now partially exposed.

"There are many mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and children there. We will certainly do everything we can to respect that," said Schuylkill County Coroner Dr. David Moylan.

The coroner says the bones that have already been taken out of the ground will now be cremated.

Then they'll be brought to the Schuylkill Memorial Park to be buried.

"It's just maybe a half mile down the road from where those bodies were," said Dr. Moylan.

Officials are working to put a historic marker on the site along Route 61 as a sort of gravestone and history lesson.

"They've offered to give us a large piece of anthracite which would be so appropriate here for the anthracite region," said Dr. Moylan.

Once the exposed bones are removed, PennDOT will be able to fill the area with the stone and grass seed.