Remains unearthed in Michigan could be Revolutionary War veteran
By DYLAN GOETZ | Kalamazoo Gazette, Mich. | Published: July 10, 2019
STURGIS, Mich. (Tribune News Service) — The human skeletal remains found in Sturgis on Tuesday could be those of a revolutionary war veteran, according to Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine forensic anthropologist Carolyn Isaac.
Local historians believe some of the remains may be those of David Randall, a veteran of the American Revolution who died decades after the war, in October 1835.
The preliminary findings were announced via Facebook Live on the Sturgis Police Department Facebook page Wednesday, July 10.
In total, the remains of three adults and two children were found at the site, Isaac said. The remains were found near South Nottawa Street and Bogen Road July 9, Sturgis police said in a press release July 10.
It is possible that a family burial site or former cemetery was discovered, Isaac said. A private contractor was digging a retention pond when the bones were discovered about 6 feet below the surface, Isaac said. Police were contacted and assisted by the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine.
Stoney Summer, veterans affairs coordinator for St. Joseph County, informed police that the remains may be of original settlers to Sturgis based on historical records, police said in a news release Wednesday morning.
There was once a schoolhouse and church at the intersection, Summer said during the press conference Wednesday.
Local history and genealogy buff Anne Davis said they have been looking for Randall’s remains for about four years, hoping to give the veteran a proper burial with military markers.
Randall enlisted in military service in 1779 and served in the New Jersey Militia through the duration of the Revolutionary War, Davis said. He settled in the Sturgis area with six or seven children after the war, Davis said. Family descendants still living in the area have taken DNA tests, Summer said.
“I think I was the only person in Sturgis happy to find bones,” Davis said.
Among the remains found Tuesday, remains of three adults and two children were identified by repeating bones and other distinguishing features, Isaac said. The bones were the color of the soil, indicating they have been there for a significant period of time, she said.
The identification process could take months, Isaac said. The bones will be carbon-14 dated after being examined, she said.
“These are still people; we want to treat them with as much respect as we can,” Isaac said.
They are expecting to find more bones as digging continues in the following days, Isaac said. Once identified, the bones will receive a proper burial, she said.