The Old Bayview Cemetery first became a cemetery back in 1845 when General Zachary Taylor had the first funeral for seven soldiers that were killed from a boiler burst near what is now, Ingleside.
173 years later, the Friends of Old Bayview Cemetery Association are on their way to restoring the cemetery to a historical destination in Corpus Christi.
This week, the cemetery brought out a cemetery restoration company, Texas Cemetery Restoration LLC and an archaeologist, Chester Walker, Ph.D. of Archaeo-Geophysical Associates, LLC , who travel the nation using ground penetrating radar to uncover graves from beneath the soil. Daniel Kieninger, of Texas Cemetery Restoration LLC, says it’s basically "shooting a wave, an electro magnetic wave length, into the ground and then it comes and bounces back and hits the receiver and it collects it in the data." GPR is commonly used in older cemeteries to show if there are any diffractors beneath the surface, and more importantly if there are any unmarked graves.
However, even if there are unmarked graves, no one plans on digging up remains or artifacts. "We’re not gonna go digging after anybody, we’re just locating trying to find where they are," says Karen Howden of the Friends of Old Bayview Cemetery Association.
According to the Corpus Christi Public Libraries website, the Old Bayview Cemetery has about 600 burials on site. Howden says about 150 of them are visible with headstones, so roughly 400-450 unmarked graves should be beneath the surface. Once all of the data comes through with the findings, this will help the cemetery move into a forward process of revitalization.
So, what happens after the ground penetration radar is finished doing its job?
"The next step after that is we’re gonna do some fundraising, so that we can get lights in here, we can get the walkways through here and get some interpretive signage," says Howden. The goal, is to one day make the Old Bayview Cemetery a historical landmark for the city of Corpus Christi.
" They’ve been working at this since 1896, off and on, and little bits here and there," and Howden wants everyone to know, "Yes, things are going forward here, it’s happening."