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Bones Found Under Rochester's Main Street are in State Archaeologists' Care

The city could learn as early as this week whether they are human remains.

Bones found recently under Rochester's Main Street may confirm the existence of an Indian burial ground in the area.

Or, they could be animal remains from long ago. 

City leaders will likely find out more this week about the bones discovered last weekend by Main Street Makeover workers. The bones were found near the corner of Third and Main streets, said Rochester City Manager Jaymes Vettraino. 

When they were discovered, the city notified archaeologists from the state of Michigan, who removed the bones and returned them to their facilities for testing. 

"We haven't confirmed what they are or what significance they may have," Vettraino said. "They are definitely bones, though."

The Main Street Makeover is the ongoing reconstruction of Rochester Road through downtown Rochester. Because water mains, sidewalks and the road itself are being completely replaced, workers have had to dig far below the surface. So far, vintage soda bottles, horseshoes and other relics have been excavated and put on display for downtown visitors to see.

The possibility of an Indian burial ground downtown was recently documented by the blog "Remember Rochester." 

The blog quotes from an 1899 newspaper account of a discovery near Third and Main streets. "Last Saturday morning workmen were engaged in deepening the cellar under the stone store. ... After they had taken up the stone they dug down and about two feet under the patched portion they unearthed two skeletons, one with the head to the east, the other to the west. The bones were gathered up and it was not long before the matter was noised about town and a large crowd gathered to view the remains. "

Read the complete story here.

Patricia August 05, 2012 at 02:45 PM
We do have a known Indian Burial Ground in the vicinity. However, with that being said, the bones unearthed now could be anything, as we had a slaughter house and Rochester was an agricultural and livestock breeding area. Our City is rich with history with what had been the surrounding farms in the area and our Main St. being the hub of that trading and activity. The bones could be anything from livestock to a rodent. We are lucky now to have a City with a strong desire to preserve and protect our history. This allows all of us to pass on to future generations both our facts and our lore.
Char Kruse August 05, 2012 at 03:14 PM
AHHHHH Jimmy Hoffa? lol
Kristin Bull (Editor) August 05, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Good points, Patricia!
Joy Sargent-Smith August 06, 2012 at 07:07 PM
I should think they could tell pretty quickly what kind of bones they are, so if they are human bones it would really just be a matter of dating to determine age and then if possible checking DNA to determine if they are Indian or something else.
Matthew Coleman August 07, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Very true. I wonder if there will be a follow-up article. The area where they were found was fairly rural until 1880 according to the Detroit history website so the bones could be human or animal and cover quite a date range.
Steve St. Germain August 08, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Let's hope the town isn't going to be haunted/cursed now for unearthing the ancient bones of an indian tribe.
Ray Henry August 16, 2012 at 06:03 PM
A Native American burial ground located near the corner of Third and Main was mentioned as early as 1875 by Rochester pioneer C.Z. Horton. Horton's letters, in which he remembers the a period between 1825 and 1830, were published in Rochester's newspaper of the day (i.e., the "Era").
Deisha Myles September 21, 2012 at 09:50 PM
I'm appalled that the bones are immediately removed instead of letting them stay to do a thorough study to determine their identities. But I guess 'progress' must march on. Even better would be to have the road go around them & the sacred land they dwell.

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