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Prison construction in Pennsylvania turns up two caskets

Two caskets which may date back to the 1800s were unearthed during a site excavation for the construction of a modular prison unit in Pennsylvania.

Work was halted immediately at the site as prison officials called in county Coroner Wallace Miller and well-known forensic anthropologist Dennis Dirkmaat to examine the remains and check the area for any other caskets, prison spokeswoman Betsy Nightingale said Monday.

“We have no idea yet on how old the caskets are, but we think they possibly date back to the 1800s, when this land was the site of the Somerset Poor House and then the Somerset State Hospital. It may have been a pauper’s grave site,” Nightingale said.

Dirkmaat could not be reached for comment, but Miller said they had been to the site with the anthropologist’s special equipment trying to find other caskets or remains.

“But we didn’t find any, and the contractor will be allowed to resume work,” Miller said.

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