The Worthington Cemetery Project, part V

Read Part I | Read Part II | Read Part III | Read part IV

Bring in the super sniffers! It’s been almost a year since we first walked in the field. This project is well worth the time it is taking, and continues to unfold in many ways. KYK9 Search and Reunite is a professional search team that can find human remains on land and water, abandoned graves, and also missing persons. Jennifer Jordan Hall is the founder of the group, which operates out of Kentucky. You can read more about them here: https://www.kyk9.org/.

This would be an option for locating graves in the cemetery, and giving us an idea of how large the cemetery is. It is not as exact or considered as accurate as ground-penetrating radar. The radar can detect any disturbance in the ground down to about 9 feet in depth. This field has been farmed and the ground has been disturbed many times over at the surface level, so the radar likely would not be of assistance to us.

A super-sniffer, hard at work.

However, the use of cadaver dogs is very helpful because it can be done with the surface being worked through farming and without destroying the ground that holds the graves. There have been cases where these dogs have found burial grounds even when the remains have been removed. One such case is explained in this Smithsonian Magazine article. The fact that the burials in the Worthington Cemetery predate the use of formaldehyde will increase the dogs’ abilities to locate the graves. Funding for a cadaver dog team is high, and would be another hurdle that would have to be crossed.

Piecing together more of the story and locating living relatives of Archibald Worthington has been a daunting task at times. Using research tools such as https://www.ancestry.com/ and https://www.familysearch.org/en/ we have pieced together more of the story of Archibald’s life. In genealogy research, the information found in more than one document has to be correlated together to weave the whole picture. The Genealogical Proof Standard or GPS is the best that researchers can use when looking for definitive connections. The five parts of the GPS are a reasonably exhaustive search, complete and accurate citations of sources, analysis and correlation of collected information, correlation of any conflicting evidence and a soundly reasoned, coherently written conclusion.

A question that we’ve had from the beginning is, was Archibald ever a slave? We knew that various documents listed Virginia as his birth place. From Census Records, we could tell he moved to Ohio from Virginia. His first listed wife on Census Records was Elizabeth Worthington. They had one child before coming to Ohio. His life from birth in 1818 to when he is documented in the 1850 Census Record remained a mystery. Berne Heilshorn, a local historian and genealogist, also has been working on the Worthington Cemetery Project. She found the needle regarding our question of his having been a slave. Probate Records are court records that are recorded after a person’s death to detail what happens to the person’s property. The heirs are listed, as well as creditors and what should happen to dependents of the deceased individual. We had previously located Probate Records that told of Archibald’s passing in Wilmington, Ohio. His wife Susan was listed as the administrator of his estate. Berne located another Probate Record using FamilySearch.org. This one gave us another large portion of information. Archibald had another wife before Elizabeth when he lived in Virginia. That wife’s name was Eliza Jane. They had a daughter together named Sarah born July 4, 1847. The record goes on to state that Archibald and his wife Eliza Jane married “according to the usual custom of slave marriages” and had Sarah when they were both slaves.

That probate record can be found at https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L9MG-M35F?i=33&cc=1992421&cat=279183. Archibald, his wife and children were freed when they moved from Virginia to Ohio. Berne’s work on this has been unmeasurable, and this new information puts more of the puzzle together. Now, about those living relatives…

2 thoughts on “The Worthington Cemetery Project, part V”

  1. Thank you for all the work you are putting into this project. My dad refuses to take any credit for his help, but he is thrilled that research is being done on the cemetery. I have heard his story on it for years.

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