WATERLOO, IOwa --- Evidence of graves of an infant brother and sister from the 1860s have been removed from a University Avenue construction site for burial by their family elsewhere.
The graves were discovered at the former Platt's Nursery site, 3700 University Ave., where a Hy-Vee Gas store is being constructed, said Leah D. Rogers of Tallgrass Historians of Iowa City, retained by Hy-Vee for the project.
"We did recover the decomposed remains of one individual --- small bone fragments, wood from the box and metal coffin screws --- and are making plans for reburial. The family involved has been notified," Rogers said in an e-mail to The Courier.
Gravestones associated with the two burials also were found.
"Hence we know who the individuals were and were able to research the family and contact their descendants," Rogers said.
No grave remnants were found with the second headstone, but it will be reset with the other stone when the remains are reburied.
The discovery resulted from an inquiry to the state archaeologists office by local historian Michael Magee of the State Association for the Preservation of Iowa Cemeteries. Magee has read a 1960 Courier article in which Dean Platt of Platt's Nursery alluded to the possibility of pioneer graves on the site, on land settled by George and Mary Melrose Hanna, generally credited with founding Waterloo in the mid-19th century.
The article indicated Mary Virden, a 2-year-old niece of Mary Melrose Hanna who died in 1848, may have been buried there.
But Rogers said the graves were not associated with the Hannas.
The graves were tied to a family not listed among the early pioneer settlers of Waterloo.
Rogers declined to name the family or discuss re-interment details out of respect for the infants' descendants.