Tornado uncovers Water Street Cemetery grave

We will keep it as dignified and respectful as possible ... Joe VanVickle

Joe VanVickle leads recovery of damaged grave at Greenville's Water Steeet Cemetery. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

GREENVILLE—The May 7 Greenville tornado downed a large tree in the Water Street Cemetery, a burial ground for early Greenville Pioneers from 1816 to 1853.

The outline of an old casket was noticed in the soil of a large ball of tree roots and soil, along with several bones. Further investigation revealed more bones, small pieces of a wooden casket, and nails.

Outline of pine box discovery after Greenville tornado at Water Street Cemetery. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“We have an outline of a pine box here,” said Joe VanVickle, Chief Medical Investigator Darke County’s Coroner’s Office. “We protected the scene all night and started excavation and recovery this morning.”

Greg Zechar, Zechar Bailey Funeral Director, and two Greenville Police Department detectives assisted in the recovery process.

Greg Zechar, Zechar Bailey Funeral Director, works in front of a pine box outlined in the soil while assisting with Water Street Cemetery recovery. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

“We will keep it as dignified and respectful as possible,” VanVickle stated. “It’s historical, and we will treat it that way.”

“Zechar Bailey is assisting us, and we will take care of the remains,” he added. “Hopefully I have it worked out with the City to do a reinternment at the same location.”

Joe VanVickle holds hand-forged coffin nails. (Gaylen Blosser photo)

VanVickle noted there is not enough recovery to determine male or female.

“I will work with city crews when they start the cleanup here, and hopefully, we don’t make any more discoveries,” VanVickle said. “We don’t want to create a situation of disturbing other graves.”

Greenville’s Water Street Cemetery. (Gaylen Blosser photos)

MyCountyLink, out of respect to the deceased and family, chose not to publish graphic information and photos.