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Professor uncovers history at hidden cemetery | News

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Professor uncovers history at hidden cemetery

Some wouldn't expect to find a cemetery behind their neighborhood, let alone one that's been around for centuries. One professor at Georgia Military College is teaching her students history through a community project aimed at restoring what she calls a hidden gem.

"This is another unmarked grave." points out Dianne Dent Wilcox, division chair at Georgia Military College.

Established in 1831 the Shiloh Cemetery was next to a church, but that sanctuary disappeared in 1961, those buried forgotten in the woods.

Wilcox. says based on accounts from members of the congregation the church was made of wood, had two doors and sat on the same land, bordering Houston and Peach counties where the city of Warner Robins is now.

"This is a vivid image that people have been here for two hundred years." says Wilcox.

Wilcox leads a group of college students in the clean up. She says, "We pull weeds, we rake leaves, we've actually moved some stones back into place to honor the people buried here."

She says the clean up project began when a family found several unmarked infant graves and started researching the history of the cemetery. "Each of these children now has a cross marking the grave." explains Wilcox.

When they first came to the cemetery in October you could only see one loop of a fence that was covered in overgrown brush, seven months later you can see the Fretwell family plot.

"I've never seen a cleaning crew like these students." says Wilcox.

Diane's son, Josh Wilcox is a full time Warner Robins police officer and part time history buff. He says they found several veterans buried in the cemetery.

"Four at this time that have been positively identified as being Confederate soldiers from the American Civil war, we also have multiple burials of service members from the World War I era, also World War II. Probably the most historically significant is a Buffalo soldier, an African American soldier from the Ninth Cavalry who was possibly at the Battle of San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt."

They've discovered close to thirty graves in the forest belonging to the Shiloh Cemetery and Wilcox says there's more to discover.

If you want to take a look at some of the artifacts Wilcox's team has found you can visit their display Monday at Georgia Military College in Warner Robins. They'll have historians, church trustees and students involved with the project on hand.

Wilcox says they hope to eventually have the cemetery dedicated as a historic site.


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