RTC funds imaging project to locate unmarked graves in Anderson Cemetery
Recently, Ringgold Telephone Company (RTC) funded a project to locate over 100 unmarked graves within the boundaries of the historic Nathan Anderson Cemetery in downtown Ringgold. Rumors have long circled the old cemetery, offering various accounts of unmarked burial sites belonging to early settlers—Euro-Americans, African Americans, and Native Americans.
Bigman Geophysical was tasked with the detailed process of locating these graves through non-invasive ground penetration radar (GPR). Dr. Bigman used geophysical imaging (tomography) to locate changes or disruptions in the subsurface. Recently, this same technology was used to discover what historians believe to be an ancient pagan ritual site near Stonehenge in southern England. Nearly 100 stones–thought to be over 4,500 years old–were discovered without disturbance of the landscape. Through a similar technique and with his state of the art equipment, Bigman was able to locate over 100 significant disruptions in the subsurface of Nathan Anderson Cemetery. Because of the pattern, spacing, and regularity of the findings, he was able to determine that the vast majority of the findings are, in fact, unmarked graves.
Daniel Bigman, owner of the surveying company, is very passionate about his work. “Each interred individual deserves to have his or her place in Georgia’s history marked in perpetuity,” Bigman states.
Bigman said he found the social component of Nathan Anderson Cemetery most exciting. “What I find so fascinating is people fulfilling a variety of roles in society were buried together. A cemetery is often a reflection of society. The way you are treated in death often reflects how you were treated in life.”
When asked about why this project is important, Bigman responded, “Cemeteries are places of historical significance. They contain the biological and material documentation of our shared past. The likelihood that there are many people with unmarked burials here from various cultural and historic backgrounds makes this place particularly special. It points to the complex history of Georgia and the Southeast. Which is why surveying the Anderson Cemetery was so important to me.”
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