Human remains create mystery at Heuvelton water tower construction site

Updated: Oct. 1, 2019 at 4:30 PM EDT
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HEUVELTON, N.Y. (WWNY) - Construction workers were digging last week as part of Heuvelton's $3.4 million water tower replacement project.

They found something unexpected. Sheriff's deputies were called.

“At the construction site there, was located body remains that appeared to be very old in nature,” St. Lawrence County sheriff’s Detective Andrew Ashley said.

Deputies were sure fairly quickly they were not dealing with a crime scene.

“One of the first things that we noticed is the old decayed wood around the remains and some remnants of old square, hand-forged nails,” Ashley said.

That doesn't mean there isn't sleuthing to do. A bioarcheologist was called in.

It was known the village's first cemetery was located there, just southwest of Heuvelton Central.

It was thought that all the remains and gravestones from the village's original cemetery were moved to Hillcrest Cemetery. That happened about 150 years ago.

Two archeological surveys were done before the water tower construction project started.

“Neither one of those surveys turned up any evidence that there were any remains,“ Heuvelton Mayor Barbara Lashua said. “So we were shocked and saddened to find that there indeed were some.”

Many gravestones from the old cemetery can be found at Hillcrest. The remains found last week were taken to Frary Funeral Home. They may end up at Hillcrest.

“We need to do what was right for the person that was disturbed and we'll move forward accordingly,” Lashua said.

In the meantime, construction where the remains were found is shut down. It won’t be restarted until approval is received from the New York State Historic Preservation Office.

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