PLANO (CBSDFW.COM) – A DART crew digging in east Plano last week accidentally unearthed the remains of a small child in the DART owned rail right-of-way near Davis Cemetery.
The discovery has forced some changes to plans for the Cotton Belt Line that will connect Plano and DFW airport.
Plano police believe the child died more than a hundred years ago and was buried without a headstone to mark the location in the historically black neighborhood.
“The African American side goes all the way up to the railroad tracks, so there are bodies… we’re standing here on bodies right now,” said David Evans, Vice President of the Douglass Community Association.
Evans says residents repeatedly warned DART about the graves, after learning several years ago it owned the right away. He also says it appeared the body is of a 2-year-old girl, based on the size of the body and the socks she was wearing when buried.
“This child belongs to all of us. It could be one of our family members. We don’t know,” said Evans.
The body was turned over to the Collin County medical examiner’s office, which then asked that the Plano Police Department come and visit the site and document what followed. Additionally, the current cemetery owner and grandson of its founder, Marcellus “Marty” Davis, was notified.
A woman who lives east of the cemetery said she remembers many unmarked burials at the location from when she was younger. Those unmarked burials were on what is now DART property since the early 70s.
Some residents even recall seeing families who couldn’t afford headstones burying their loved ones in unmarked graves along the tracks.
DART says it has completed its work in the area for now but will develop a plan to delineate locations of any other graves in its right of way to establish a new boundary between the rail corridor and the cemetery.
“We just want to make sure they’re on record and that they’re not going to be digging. And that we can trust that they’re not going to be digging,” said Evans.
The transit agency said it will need to identify all utilities in the corridor and their relation to the cemetery and the rail alignment.
The work will likely involve surveying, historic research and potentially ground penetrating radar. There are also plans for DART employees to meet with representatives of the community and the City of Plano to update the work.
Finally, DART has contacted the ME to determine what the next steps are for re-internment of the remains.