Mercer project underway to honor those in unmarked graves

MERCER, Pa. (WYTV) — A project is underway in Mercer County to honor people who died up to 150 years ago, but were left buried in a group of unmarked graves.

Heading out of Mercer Pennsylvania on Route 58, there’s a field. Many pass it but most have no idea what it is. Even the Mercer County historical society was surprised to learn what it holds.

“We figured there’s probably 50 people buried out there. We don’t know their names. We don’t actually know where they’re buried except they’re in the plot,” said Woody Dixon, a volunteer.

It’s the Mercer County Home Cemetery. For years, everyone thought a few dozen former residents of the home were buried there. But this year, volunteers discovered there are actually about 500.

“Mostly people who were in ill health who needed to live in a home situation to be taken care of,” said Dixon.

Volunteer Woody Dixon personally sought out and found the death records that confirmed the burials.

“I was glad to find them,” said Dixon.

“I think it’s important that we recognize that they were here,” said Bill Philson, executive director for the Mercer County Historical Society.

Now, the director of the Historical Society and volunteers like Dixon are working to make the empty field a nice memorial.

“As a society I think we have a moral obligation to recognize these people even if they didn’t have money to be buried correctly,” said Philson.

Plans include parking, benches, and a special marker.

“It’s going to be I think nice to anybody who wants to have their family memories and not the memory that it’s a grown up field that nobody can even find,” said Philson.

But most of all a reminder that the folks buried here left a lot behind.

“They lived. They had productive lives,” said Philson.

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