Historic discovery in Waterloo - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Historic discovery in Waterloo

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One of the founding daughters of Waterloo may have been found – at a construction site.

Workers were laying foundation for a new Hy-Vee Gas Station on University Avenue in Waterloo. But crews stopped work, because they may have found the remains of a two-year-old pioneer girl, buried there in the 1800s.

"She deserves a burial place just as much as anyone else," said Mike Magee.

Magee actually uncovered the story while researching old newspaper archives on the Internet. There, he found an article from a 1960 issue of the Waterloo Courier. The article is about the demolition of the Hanna house, a Waterloo founding family. In the piece, the author noted that a small gravestone stood on the land. On the stone, she said, was a small carving of a lamb, which stood as a memorial to a settler's two-year-old daughter, who died when her clothes caught fire. KWWL will not print the girl's name at this time, since investigators are working to notify current family members, and the investigation is still pending.

The new gas station will stand on that same land near the Hanna house. Previously, the land was occupied by Platt's Nursery.

But this investigation was prompted by a surprising discovery.

"There's a stain in the ground that has the shape of a small burial pit, and there are some other indicators that suggest that it could be an intact burial site, but we have not confirmed that yet," said Leah Rogers, Principal Investigator for Tallgrass Historians, LC.

Hy-Vee brought in Tallgrass to make sure everything is handled properly.

"Hy-Vee has been so cooperative in this, and has gone out of their way to do the right thing," Rogers said.

At this juncture, construction is still on hold while the archaeologists investigate the scene.

Magee said this pause is critical to preserving the rich history of the site.

"I thought it was an important part of Black Hawk County history that this little girl be known and have a proper burial," he said.

He also hopes she is found so that she can be moved – and buried with her parents.

Stay with KWWL for updates as this story develops in the coming weeks.

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