SUMMERFIELD, N.C. (WGHP) — Boy Scouts are known for doing good deeds. The one Troop 600 was doing in Summerfield recently had more serious implications than most.
“I found it super interesting because I had never done anything or seen anything like this before,” Scout Nick Jamieson said.
“We’re clearing out all the twigs and logs, and some of the adults are cutting down trees with chainsaws, and we’re trying to clear out … the graveyard to use ground-penetrating radar,” Scout Rishi Kandala said about the work that will be done by a licensed geologist, later. “I think it’s really cool to be involved in something like this, and I think it’s crazy cool that our community has such big history just like this and not just with the American Revolution. I think it’s also like with the Civil Rights Movement. There’s a lot of history in this town.”
The history, in this case, is trying to validate stories that dozens, maybe hundreds, of British soldiers may have been buried in the graveyard at what is now Hopewell Wesleyan Church on Pleasant Ridge Road in Summerfield.
It was at the time of the battle and for decades after, a largely Quaker community.
“Cornwallis had a tremendous number of casualties. He … won the battle, but he lost the war,” said Bruce Petersen, who is part of the Summerfield Historical Committee. “And it started raining towards the end of the battle … miserable for a couple of days, and he was trying to take care of his troops, and he didn’t have surgeons to take care of the wounded, so he imposed on the Quakers who had not fought. He imposed on them to take care of his wounded. In the after-action report, Cornwallis mentions that he couldn’t feed his troops because the Denton Mill had broken down overnight … Imagine a situation in which the Quakers are trying to handle this. They’ve got a Quaker church … They’re overloaded, and maybe somebody rode up and said, ‘Reverand, can you help us?’ It’s a plausible scenario.”
That’s why the committee has hired Geologist Keith Seramur to bring his what looks like a walk-behind lawnmower to see what’s beneath the surface in the graveyard which appears to have lost most of its grave markers through the years.
The device Seramur uses is called a ground-penetrating radar.
“We’ll take a picture of the subsurface … An inch later, we’ll take a picture, and then an inch later, an inch later, and we stitch all of those together into one big profile of the subsurface of the ground,” Seramur said. “What we are able to do is come back and at least recognize that there are people here.”
That may be as far as it gets, though.
“We probably will never know who they are, but we will know how many are buried here,” said Ken Robinson, the archeological advisor to the Summerfield Historical Committee.
But that is more than they knew the day before. See their work in action in this edition of The Buckley Report.