A scientist from the State Historic Preservation Agency says a grouping of old human remains found along the bank of the Mackinaw River near Gridley now appears to be from an eroded bank and not washed downstream.
"Originally I thought they had washed in from another flood episode. But, because they are so concentrated in one area, and there is such a mixture of large bones and small bones, that really discounts the theory. Somebody had placed them there in the past."
Dawn Cobb is examining the remains at the Illinois State Museum. Cobb says there are still mysteries.
"It may have been simply someone was burying family members. But, I still can't account for the breakage. Why are none of the bones in place? Why are they all mixed up?"
One guess, Cobb says, is that a farmer found the scattered bones after ploughing some time in the past, collected them, and reburied them near the river. The remains could be anywhere from a couple hundred to a couple thousand years old. Cobb says she is not sure there is a purpose to performing destructive and expensive further testing to narrow the age range or determine whether the fragments came from early settlers or from native Americans. After another trip to the site Monday to rescue remains from the flooding Mackinaw river, she has found pieces of at least six individuals, of both genders and several life stages. She says the bones will be cleaned and kept at the state museum according to the Human Skeletal Remains Protection Act.
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