Graves Found Under Former Church Site in Eldridge

ELDRIDGE, Iowa  --  Thanks to the help of an archaeologist, some long-standing rumors have been put to rest in Eldridge.

WQAD's Megan Noe found out more about the findings beneath the city's Franklin Park.

In his lab at the University of Iowa, Professor Glenn Storey sees what most of us can't. His computer screen shows black and white images, with bright spots that represent burials.

"I have two, at least two, really very clear rows of graves, not far from where the church was," he said.

In May, the City of Eldridge hired Storey to survey Franklin Park. Using his ground-penetrating radar, he traced the land that was once the site of a Presbyterian church until a tornado destroyed it in 1918.

He said the results are clear.

"This one, I think there are definitely coffins. And I suspect that several of them must be metal, because they stand out so well," he said.

In fact, the radar shows as many as 40 or 50 unmarked graves.

"I think they're fairly shallow," said Storey. "It's not six feet under. They're much shallower, and I think that's kinda typical of a lot of cemeteries in Iowa."

For Storey, the work is rewarding.

"Remembering human individuals is one of the most important things that we can do to honor our ancestors and to say we care about the past," he said.

Eldridge leaders have done some research and learned the names of several people believed to be buried in the park. Storey says many cities choose to put up a marker in their honor.