Back to Yancey County for some local history that’s a tad puzzling and a bit on the grim side, courtesy of Mr. James C. Byrd, resident Local Historian & Special Collections Librarian here at AMY:

After the land to build Mountain Heritage High School was purchased, it was discovered that an old and neglected cemetery containing nineteen graveswith fieldstone markers was on the hill very close to where the football field was to be located.

The graves had to be moved to another site after legal notices were posted to inform any possible family members of what was to be done. Many times someone will have information about individuals and families buried in very old cemeteries, but that was not the case in this situation.

Plans were made for careful opening of the graves. A container was used to collect bones from each grave and then the bones were put in wooden boxes for burial on another hill near the school site.

The graves at the lower part of the cemetery were as much as eight feet deep and the upper ones were very shallow and around two feet in depth. This was probably caused by erosion. One grave had the skull moved over from the main body. In another grave, the skull and body were face down. An additional skull had received a shot indicated by a large hole with a purple color around it. With one body, a leg had been broken.

In opening the graves, there was not any sign that wood was used for a box, coffin, or casket. No nails were found. It is possible that wood and nails were not used and that the bodies were buried hurriedly after a sudden disaster or outbreak of a deadly disease.

It has been almost fifty years since the unknown bodies were reburied. Who they were remains a mystery.