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Coffins unearthed under school playground in Philadelphia during renovations

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Coffins were unearthed by workmen making improvements to a playground at a Philadelphia school. The ground that the school is built on was once a cemetery. The bodies were relocated back in the 1950s to make way for the building of the school, but apparently they didn’t take all the bodies, according to the New York Daily News on Dec. 5.

Workmen excavating the playground were hitting hard objects with their shovels, which turned out to be the lids of occupied caskets. Odd Fellows Cemetery was on that site from 1849 until the year 1951 when the area was paved over to create a playground.

It is estimated that as many as 3,000 African-Americans were buried in that cemetery. This cemetery dates back to the times when segregation continued right up until the time of death. Other cemeteries refused to bury African-Americans at the time.

When the cemetery was closed it was thought that all 65,000 bodies were relocated to Lawnview Cemetery in Rockledge, which is about 10 miles away. Apparently that just didn’t happen. They built the children’s playground on burial grounds with bodies beneath the area where kids have played for over 60 years.

The crew working on the playground has not only found caskets, but headstones and bones. The work has stopped until the city can decide what to do with this new found discovery.

It was a different era back then when the cemetery was supposedly vacated with no one left behind, but as Donovan Herrig, a neighbor of the school explained:

"We don't know what really happened back then. Maybe somebody was rushing the whole process or they were like, 'I'm sick and tired of this! I'm not taking any more bodies. We can leave the rest of them here and hopefully nobody finds them.'"

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