|Cemetery notes and/or description:|
Located on the south side of Reithmiller Rd (next to St Jacobs Lutheran Church) east of Mt Hope Rd.
15 May 2013 mlive.com/jackson
The dogs, Andor and Dallas, were brought in to help the church search for unmarked, occupied graves in the more than century old cemetery on May 14. The dogs and five search participants were from Michigan Search and Rescue — a volunteer organization that uses dogs to search for humans.
"Our cemetery is over 150-years-old, and a lot of the graves in there have had no markers. If they did have markers, it was made out of sandstone, which over time has deteriorated," church President Everell Huttenlocher said. "We know who is buried in that cemetery, we don't really know where."
For about two hours, the dogs explored the grounds in search for the smell of human bones. With the cool air and the sun beating down, Michigan Search and Rescue President Pam Burns said the conditions were ideal for the dogs and locating unmarked graves.
"It helps to have ground with moisture in it," Burns said. "The heat thawed up the ground and with the sun out and good moisture, it brings out the scent of the body."
The search was prompted by members of a church committee looking at old cemetery records. Member Joan Hoffman said the records indicated about 450 people had been buried in the cemetery, but only about 250 had been marked.
For every unmarked grave that was identified by Michigan Search and Rescue, Hoffman said the church plans to place a flat marker in the ground and use its records to try to identify who is buried there. Church officials said they do not plan to dig at the site to search for remains.