Wilmington Historic Grave Search

Maggie, one of Lisa Higgin's cadaver dogs, alerting during a training.
Maggie, one of Lisa Higgin’s cadaver dogs, alerting during a training.

I am helping organize a historic grave search with cadaver dogs in Eastern North Carolina from Sept. 12 to 14. An African-American church’s graveyard is being relocated because of a road widening project. The church has generously agreed to having the cadaver dog teams on site to see whether they can help confirm or locate unmarked graves.

I am trying to raise some modest funds to cover the expenses of three experienced cadaver-dog handlers — Lisa Higgins, Paul Martin, and Susan Goodhope — who were featured in What the Dog Knows doing this work. Separately and together, they have worked on ancient remains projects across the United States. The link provides just one example of Lisa Higgins working with her dog Dixee on such a project at Dozier School for Boys.

The three handlers, whom I know personally, are bringing their dogs and their handling talents to this project because an environmental review coordinator at the NC State Historic Preservation Office read the chapter in the book on historic remains, called me, and suggested that it might be a great opportunity to both help the church, and to be able to study how accurate dogs trained on detecting ancient remains can be. The state department of transportation will need to move all the graves, marked and unmarked, to another area on the church’s property. The DOT is using GPR and other methods on the site, and will be excavating.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me, cat_warren@icloud.com, or whatthedogknows@gmail.com. Thank you!

Cat Warren

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