According to Toronto’s CTV news, on Thursday July 28th archaeologists in Dresden, Ontario began a search using high-tech ground penetrating radar to find lost graves at the Uncle Tom’s Cabin historic site in southwestern Ontario, Canada. The site is owned and operated by the Ontario Heritage Trust.
Ground-penetrating radar sends radar waves into the ground that are reflected back off buried features and objects allowing archaeologists to map their positions. It is very useful where it’s important to avoid disturbing the site.
The Dresden site is home to two historic cemeteries belonging to the British American Institute and the Henson family.
Many of the grave markers are visible at the cemeteries but their positions don’t always mark the location of the underlying graves with precision.
Josiah Henson, one of the founders of a settlement for fugitive slaves at Dresden in the 1830s became synonymous with the character Uncle Tom in Harriet Beecher Stow’s novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.
Henson born into slavery in Maryland managed to escape to Canada in 1830. He spent 41 years working as a slave.
According to the Western’s survey team leader, historic “cemeteries are notorious for having many more burials than are marked by the gravestones or recorded in the cemetery.”
This work is taking place prior to Emancipation Day on Monday, which marks the 177th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British colonies.
To learn more about Josiah Henson who was recognized for his contributions to the abolition movement and for his work in the Underground Railroad click on the Ontario Heritage Trust website.
To read about Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stow click on the link.