SHELBY, N.C. -- State crews began excavating one of 13 graves belonging to the Poston Family of Shelby.
On Monday, crews broke through the concrete slabs used to preserve the graves, some dating back to more than 150 years.
“It's a shame with this big open field. My question has been why they couldn’t move it 50 feet in one direction or another,” says Ned Cash.
Cash’s great aunt Barbara is buried here. He thought the state would preserve the cemetery and build around it. Instead, little red flags mark the spot where the stones were removed.
“These people elected to be buried here and I question who are we to say progress is to change that location now, when there are other choices,” says Cash.
The plot belonged to John Poston (1797-1862). He was a plantation owner who inherited the land from his father Samuel. The graves are on top of a hill along Polkville Road in Shelby. Judy Spencer is John Poston’s great, great, great grand-daughter.
“I understand the need for a new highway, but I am disappointed that they had to do it this way,” she says.
"I knew the cemetery was here, knew it was here for years, but didn't realize my connection to the cemetery, until my brother mentioned there was a notice in the paper, that the cemetery was being moved,”
Spencer says by the time the connection was made, it was too late. She began to look into her family’s lineage and believe John Poston’s parents may be buried here too.
“From some history records I've seen, his father and mother are also buried here, there are some unmarked graves,”
Poston, who was buried next to his wife Mabel, had nine children. Two of his sons (Samuel and Daniel) along with their wives and children are buried here. A single marker bears two names and “unknown.” They are believed to be the Poston children who died as infants.
On Tuesday, crews exhumed Daniel Poston’s remains. Everything found originally in the grave will be placed into a smaller casket. The items found so far, include: nails, buttons, hinges, and bone fragments.
The remains will be reburied three miles away at the Zion Baptist Church Cemetery. Weather halted plans to further excavate the remaining plots. Crews will resume work on Thursday.