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Scans for more graves conducted next to Robles Cemetery

Posted at 3:50 PM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 17:39:23-05

TAMPA, Fla. — Researchers are looking for more graves on a plot of land in Tampa.

A crew from USF and the Florida Public Archaeology Network conducted a ground penetrating radar scan of empty land at 30th and Sligh Avenue, next to Robles Cemetery.


“The cemetery here originally had 23 known burials we found 15 more death certificates or funeral records online and it’s literally page by page flipping through indexes it’s extremely laborious work trying to find who is where,” said Ray Reed, a citizen who has gone through records and believes there may be graves there.

Reed said his search through records started after he wanted to build a community park at the property. He's brought his concerns to researchers.

They want to see if burials extend beyond the visible ones at Robles Cemetery. One neighbor said she recalls seeing other markers when she moved in decades ago but doesn’t know what happened to them.

“This whole area was so far removed from downtown so literally the 1920’s that they might set a box up you had enough money but people went in the ground the same day they died,” Reed said.

The radar scan will allow researchers to see if there are any anomalies in the ground without conducting intrusive excavations.

“It is snowballing and we keep contributing these stories about individual cemeteries we’re hoping that at some point that’s gonna prompt a more systemic comprehensive policy or plan for these,” said Tom Pluckhahn, a professor of anthropology at USF. “Because right now it’s just here’s another cemetery what are we gonna do about it? And it all depends on who the landowner is is it county is it city is it private what can be done about it.”

It’s not clear who is responsible for the plot of land containing the cemetery and where the researchers scanned.