Jacob and Catharine Ritter had nine children who all died between 1834 and 1852, none older than 2 years. They—and other family members—were all buried in the family cemetery on the family farm. Unfortunately, no one is quite certain where the cemetery was located.
In June construction crews working on a development in Penn Township, Lancaster County uncovered 21 gravestones for Ritter children and other members of the Ritter, Longenecker, Wolff and Minnich families, wood and what may be bone. The stones were all stacked on top of one another, indicating that they’d been moved at some time, possibly in order to till the plot. Work at the site immediately stopped.
Now it’s time to decide what to do with the remains. The final decision may be based on determining where the cemetery actually was. So far, the lawyers for the developer have not been able to find a record of the cemetery. The farm was owned in 1869 by Jacob Ritter and in 1879 by Peter Longenecker. Through deeds they’ve determined that some of Peter Longenecker’s heirs were Minnichs. They attempted to contact possible relatives in the area via mailing, but received no response.
The developer would like to move the headstones to Mellinger Mennonite Cemetery, 12 miles away. Grave Concern believes the burial site should be preserved and would like the area fenced off. A Lancaster County Judge has asked them to look into a compromise. A Penn Township manager has suggested the artifacts could be moved to one of two lots on the site that were slated to remain open ground.
What do you think they should do?