More graves found in Navarro County reservoir

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by CRAIG CIVALE

WFAA

Posted on October 12, 2011 at 11:13 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 13 at 5:02 AM

Richland-Chambers Reservoir

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CORSICANA — More graves have been found in the receding waters of Richland-Chambers Reservoir.

Archeologists have now recovered the remains of 20 people who were buried on the half-acre site.

The remains are believed to be part of a 19th century cemetery for slaves. The discovery has caught the interest of Eleanor Washington, whose ancestors were slaves who once worked and lived on the property.

"For them to find bones and think they're part of a slave cemetery, to me that means a great deal," Washington said.

The Tarrant Regional Water District operates the lake, which was completed in 1987. The agency is working with the Texas Historical Commission to protect the remains.

But some feel the government is moving too slowly to adequately protect the remains.

"We are not happy with the way Tarrant County has handled the situation," Carolyn Montgomery Taylor said. Her family once owned the land that the cemetery sits on.

She believes the agencies are dragging their feet to avoid paying to move the remains.

"Everyone buried down there has a releative somewhere, and they need to do something about it instead of pretending they don't know about it," Taylor said.

The water district first became aware of remains in 2009, when a skull and some bones were discovered.

Rising waters at the site prevented them from doing anything at the time.

This summer's severe drought dropped the lake by five feet, and once again revealed the location.

The water district denies putting off a decision and in a statement to News 8, a spokesman said: "It is our goal to get them moved to an appropriate resting place as quickly as we can."

Residents like Eleanor Washington hope that decision will come soon, before the lake's waters rise again, and a possible piece of her family's history again disappears.

E-mail ccivale@wfaa.com

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