On Monday afternoon a Williamson County judge ruled that researchers can move forward with their search for the 16 Herrin Massacre Miners graves at the Herrin City Cemetery.
The 16 miners were part of the 22 miners who were massacred back in 1922, while working as scabs in the coal mines.
The 16 miners whose bodies weren't claimed at the time were all buried in four rows of four in an area of the Herrin City Cemetery set aside as a Potter's Field.
But, four years ago when author Scott Doody set out to find World War I Veteran Antonio Molkovich's grave site at the cemetery, to mark it on Veterans Day that year, it was no where to be found.
Molkovich was also one of the 16 massacred miners who were all buried at the same time in the Herrin City Cemetery.
The Sexton, at the time told Doody he had no idea what happened to Molkovich's marker, or even where the grave was located in the cemetery.
Now that could all change in the coming days with the judge's ruling to allow excavations at the cemetery to begin immediately.
"This decorated Veteran will get a marker. We will start on Friday," said Scott Doody author of the Herrin Massacre. "And I'm cautiously optimistic that before Veterans Day a marker that's been missing for over eighty years will be replaced."
The miners graves are the only ones in question on where they're located in the Potter's Field section of the graveyard. There are more than 130 unmarked graves in the section, that may now be underneath other recent internments.
"In this historical area in the City of Herrin's Potter's Field, it's our belief that several of the grave spaces have been sold which may in fact have previous internments," said Professor Steven Di Naso Geospatial Scientist Eastern Illinois University. "And among those internments some may be the men involved in those incidents in 1922."
Now some families in Herrin are concerned about what or who may be buried with their loved ones. They're upset at the possibilities.
"It's been very disturbing and often I don't know what to do or say about it," said Nancy Stone of Herrin. "I'm angry because I think the City of Herrin knew what they were doing when they did it. And I don't think they ever should have done it. I'm sick to my stomach over it all."
The Smith family are also concerned about the plots they own in the cemetery, that are located in the Potter's Field section of the graveyard.
"My grandfather is buried here," said Ashley Busby of Cobden. " And if my grandmother dies and we go to bury her, and there's something there then she won't be able to be buried there. So now we're concerned at whose expense are we at as far as if we have to move her, if we have to move my grandfather."
Questions that many Herrin families could also be asking in the days and weeks ahead as the search for the Herrin Massacre victims graves begins.
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