Category Archives: U.S.A

Comparison of American Languages Detects Waves of Migration

Comparison of American Languages Detects Waves of Migration

Comparison of American Languages Detects Waves of Migration
Indigenous Americans, illustrated here during a mammoth hunt, developed their diverse languages from 4 different population waves that came over from Siberia, a new study suggests.

Indigenous people entered North America at least four times between 12,000 and 24,000 years ago, bringing their languages with them, a new linguistic model indicates. The model correlates with archaeological, climatological and genetic data, supporting the idea that populations in early North America were dynamic and diverse.

Nearly half of the world’s language families are found in the Americas. Although many of them are now thought extinct, historical linguistics analysis can survey and compare living languages and trace them back in time to better understand the groups that first populated the continent.

In a study published March 30 in the American Journal of Biological Anthropology, Johanna Nichols, a historical linguist at the University of California Berkeley, analyzed structural features of 60 languages from across the U.S. and Canada, which revealed they come from two main language groups that entered North America in at least four distinct waves.

Nichols surveyed 16 features of these languages, including syllable structure, the gender of nouns and the way consonants are produced when speaking.

The languages split into two main groups: an early one where the first-person pronoun has an “n” sound while the second-person pronoun has an “m” sound, and a later group with languages that incorporate a sentence’s worth of information in just one word.

Further linguistic analysis indicated that people arrived in the Americas in four distinct waves.

The first occurred around 24,000 years ago, when massive glaciers covered much of North America. Nichols found no unique language features, suggesting a diverse set of people and languages entered North America at that time.

A second wave of people around 15,000 years ago brought languages with n-m pronouns, while a third wave 1,000 years later brought languages with simple consonants. A fourth wave around 12,000 years ago then brought complex consonants.

Until relatively recently, researchers assumed that Indigenous people first arrived in the Americas via a land bridge from Siberia around 13,000 years ago.

But Nichols’ previous study of the linguistic data convinced her that this was not enough time for the nearly 200 Indigenous American languages to develop: Instead, she proposed people first arrived closer to 35,000 years ago.

A growing body of archaeological, geological and climatological and genetic research has since pushed back the dates of the earliest American arrivals, with a new consensus that, sometime between 30,000 and 25,000 years ago, several waves of people made their way into the Americas.

Adding linguistic studies to this work means that “the four fields confirm each other,” Nichols said. “Now I think the interpretation is very solid.”

Andrew Cowell, a linguistic anthropologist at the University of Colorado Boulder who was not involved in the study, told Live Science in an email that Nichols’ study is interesting because “the language data reinforces growing recognition in other fields that North America was populated much earlier than was assumed for many decades.” 

Cowell noted, however, that the study’s statistical analysis shows that two languages, “Yurok and Arapaho are classed quite differently, yet the two languages are known to be genetically related as part of the Algic language super-family.” (Yurok was spoken in far-Northern California, while Arapaho is spoken in Wyoming and Oklahoma.) 

Additionally, languages can be heavily influenced by their neighbors, which can blur how they were originally related, Cowell said.

While this new study presents a model for how languages entered and evolved within North America, it does not speak to their origins, which are still unknown. 

“It’s likely that the people who moved into North America left relatives in Asia,” Nichols said, “and possible that some of those languages survive and have remained in Siberia.” 

But the limits of the linguistic comparative method mean that we may never know for sure, Nichols said.

Indigenous archaeologist argues humans may have arrived here 130,000 years ago

Indigenous archaeologist argues humans may have arrived here 130,000 years ago

In her book The Indigenous Paleolithic of the Western Hemisphere, archaeologist Paulette Steeves argues that the settlement of the Americas may have occurred closer to 130,000 ago.

An old story about the “Old Stone Age” in North America is now giving way to new evidence — or to be precise, evidence that is much, much older than scientists used to accept.

Archaeologists long believed that the first peoples to set foot on this continent arrived by crossing a land connection, the Bering Strait, from Siberia at the end of the last ice age, around 11,500 to 12,000 years ago.

They are often called ‘Clovis people’ — named after the first discovery of stone tools used around this time, at a site near Clovis, New Mexico.

These artifacts are called the Gault Assemblage from the Gault Site in Texas, and are dated to be 16,000 – 21,000 years old. (A to D, F, and L) Bifaces. (E) Blade core. (G) Quartz projectile point. (H and I) Projectile points. (K) Projectile point tip. (M, V, and W) Blade. (N) Unifacial tool. (O and T) Gravers. (P) Discoidal biface. (Q) End scraper. (R to U) Modified flake tools. (X and Y) Lanceolate projectile points. (Nancy Velchoff, Gault School of Archaeological Research) (Nancy Velchoff, Gault School of Archaeological Research)

This period is relatively recent when compared to the history of homo sapiens, and it can conflict with the view of many Indigenous people who believe their ancestors have lived here “since time immemorial.”

“For many, many years, people thought the Clovis were the first people of North America, and that was the primary paradigm,” said Steven Holen, research director at the Center for American Paleolithic Research.  

That paradigm has now shifted, due to studies such as the 2017 analysis of fossilized footprints at White Sands National Park in New Mexico, which suggested a human presence dating back at least 20,000 years. 

Indigenous archaeologist argues humans may have arrived here 130,000 years ago
Footprints found in New Mexico were dated to between 21,000 – 23,000 years old, and were likely left by prehistoric teenagers. (National Park Service, USGS and Bournemouth University)

However, for those archaeologists who once faced aggressive pushback for challenging the so-called ‘Clovis First’ theory, the recent relaxing of archaeological dogma is too little, and too lacking in humility.

“This was an area that was an academic violence against Indigenous people,” said Paulette Steeves, author of The Indigenous Paleolithic of the Western Hemisphere.

Her book gathers together the latest evidence and arguments in favour of believing the human presence in North America goes back many tens of thousands of years — at a minimum.

“We’re supposed to believe that early hominids got to northern Asia 2.1 million years ago and then for some reason didn’t go any farther north,” Steeves explained. “A few thousand more kilometres, they would have been in North America. So it does not make any sense whatsoever.”

Steeves is a professor of sociology at Algoma University in Sault Ste. Marie, and a Canada Research Chair in Healing and Reconciliation. For her, the meaning of “time immemorial” need not conflict with the archaeological project of dating the initial peopling of this hemisphere.

“This is where their cultures grew,” she said. “This is where their languages grew. This is where they’re from. They can tell their story in any way they want.”

The Americas’ oldest known bead discovered near Douglas, Wyoming

The Americas’ oldest known bead discovered near Douglas, Wyoming

The Americas’ oldest known bead discovered near Douglas, Wyoming

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known bead in the Americas at the La Prele Mammoth site in Converse County, United States. The oldest known bead in the Americas was discovered by University of Wyoming archeology professor Todd Surovell and his team and is in the shape of a tube made of bone that is approximately 12,940 years old.

The campsite was located along Le Prele Creek near the North Platte River, not far from present-day Douglas.

Perhaps it is more appropriate to refer to it as a hunting camp. While that may not seem unusual, this camp was not for processing deer or elk, but rather a mammoth. 

The site was active approximately 13,000 years ago.

The bead measures 7mm in length by 1.6mm and was likely worn as a decorative item on clothing. Both ends of the bead are smoothed and polished, while the surface has a layer of red ochre.

Grooves found on the outside of the bead are consistent with creation by humans, either with stones or their teeth.

Professor Todd Surovell’s research is published in Scientific Reports; the paper is titled “Use of hare bone for the manufacture of a Clovis bead.”

Members of the research team included collaborators from UW, the Office of the Wyoming State Archaeologist, the University of Manchester, Weber State University, and Chico State University.

An aerial view of the La Prele Mammoth site in Wyoming’s Converse County.

The La Prele Mammoth site preserves the remains of a killed or scavenged sub-adult Columbian mammoth and an associated camp occupied during the time the animal was butchered.

By using mass spectrometry, or ZooMS, to extract collagen for zooarchaeology, the team was able to ascertain the origin of the bone bead and obtain valuable information about the chemical makeup of the bone.

The researchers concluded that the bead was made from either a metapodial (the bones that link the phalanges of the digits to the more proximal bones of the limb) or a proximal phalanx (a bone found in the fingers and toes of humans and other vertebrates) of a hare.

This discovery provides the first secure evidence for the use of hares during the Clovis period, a prehistoric era in North America that peaked around 12,000 years ago. It is named for the Clovis archaeological site in New Mexico, where unique stone tools were discovered.

Rare Piece Of Metal Armor Found At 17th-Century Fort In Maryland

Rare Piece Of Metal Armor Found At 17th-Century Fort In Maryland

A piece of body armor was unearthed during excavations at a 17th-century colonial fort in Maryland, a Mid-Atlantic state of the United States.

While archaeologists continued their excavations in the City of St Mary’s, one of America’s premier historical sites, a project launched in 2021, they noticed a piece of metal sticking out of the dirt.

According to the Washington Post, the more they dug, the more they found until they came across a slab of metal the size of a cafeteria tray. Still caked with soil and corrosion materials, the plate was identified when an X-ray revealed its rivets forming the shape of three hearts.

What they found late last year was a rare piece of 17th-century armor called a tasset, which was designed to hang from a breastplate and protect one of the wearer’s thighs during battle. Originally, there would have been two — one for each leg.

“The X-ray really took our breath away,” Travis Parno, director of research and collections at Historic St. Mary’s City, told All That’s Interesting in an email. “Seeing the layers of steel, the individual rivets, the hearts(!). It was a good day.”

The metal tasset looked like a “cafeteria tray” when it was first unearthed, but archeologists suspected that it was part of a piece of armor. Photo: Historic St. Mary’s Commission

“This tasset is the second we’ve found at St. Mary’s City (the second was from a circa late-1640s context),” Parno said, “suggesting that colonists were actively making decisions about what was and wasn’t useful to be retained in their military accoutrements.”

Parno further noted that armor parts like this one are “not particularly common on 17th-century sites.” In Maryland’s hot, humid climate, the colonists most likely abandoned the tassets as suffocating and cumbersome.

The rare piece of armor called a tasset had been brought by the first European colonists who arrived in the mid-1600s to establish one of the earliest settlements in what would become the United States.

Historic St. Mary’s City, the site of the fourth permanent settlement in British North America, was Maryland’s first settlement.

Founded in March 1634 on land acquired from the local Yaocomico people by newly arrived English settlers, it served as the colony of Maryland’s first capital for 60 years before being moved to Annapolis in 1694. St. Mary’s was abandoned after it was eclipsed by Annapolis and never built over, making it an undisturbed archaeological site.

A depiction of what the 17th-century fort may have once looked like.

Colonists from Britain crossed the Atlantic on two ships called the Ark and the Dove. In 1634, they navigated up the St. Mary’s River and erected a fort — the earliest known colonial site in Maryland.

Finding evidence of the original fortified village has been one of the main objectives of archaeological research over the past fifty years. 17th-century documentation was ambiguous about the location, and references to the first fort vanished from the historical record in 1642.

Following a geophysical survey that revealed evidence of a palisade, an excavation in 2021 unearthed postholes, building outlines, coins, and artifacts from the 1620s and 1630s.

The excavation of the original fort has continued, and late last year a large structure with an attached cellar was discovered. The structure was not a home, and artifacts discovered there — musket parts, lead shot, trade beads — suggest it was used as a storehouse. The tasset was found in the cellar.

The Mysterious Prehistoric Underwater Structure Beneath Lake Michigan

The Mysterious Prehistoric Underwater Structure Beneath Lake Michigan

A prehistoric structure reminiscent of England’s iconic Stonehenge has been uncovered in Grand Traverse Bay, an arm of Lake Michigan on the western shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

The findings were found by Dr. Mark Holley, a distinguished professor of underwater archaeology at Northwestern Michigan University.

The picturesque waters of Grand Traverse Bay have long-held maritime history, with dozens of known shipwrecks attesting to the area’s bustling 19th and 20th-century maritime trade routes. Under its serene surface, secrets of a different kind have emerged, capturing the attention of archaeologists and historians.

Archaeologists uncovered sunken boats and cars and even a Civil War-era pier at a depth of around 40 feet into Lake Michigan’s Grand Traverse Bay, using sonar techniques to search for shipwrecks.

When archaeologists were searching for shipwrecks under Lake Michigan, they discovered a rock with a prehistoric carving of a mastodon, as well as a collection of stones arranged in a Stonehenge-like manner.

Dr. Holley displays the rock that some people believe has a carving of a mastodon. It has not yet been verified by any scientist that this is a rock carving of the long-extinct animal.

About forty feet beneath Lake Michigan’s glowing waters, Dr. Holley discovered stones arranged in a long line, over one mile in length.

The stones have been dated to approximately 9,000 years ago. That was 4,000 years before Stonehenge was built and approximately two thousand years after the Ice Age ended. It occurred when the lake bed was dry and before Grand Traverse Bay existed.”

“This site seems to gain a life in the media about every six months or so. Sadly, much of the information out there is incorrect. For example, there is not a henge associated with the site and the individual stones are relatively small when compared to what most people think of as European standing stones.

It should be clearly understood that this is not a megalith site like Stonehenge. This label has been placed on the site by individuals in the press who may have been attempting to generate sensation about the story and have not visited the site. The site in Grand Traverse Bay is best described as a long line of stones which is over a mile in length,” Dr. Holley said.

It is, however, not the only strange prehistoric submerged site in this region. While exploring Lake Huron, one of North America’s five Great Lakes, underwater archaeologists discovered traces of an ancient lost civilization that is twice as old as Stonehenge and Egypt’s Great Pyramids.

Sonar Image of the stones. Stones Beneath the Waters of Lake Michigan.

Dr. John O’Shea from the University of Michigan has been working on a broadly similar structure over in Lake Huron. He through a leap of innovative thinking, concluded that the structure was perfect for caribou hunting corridors.

According to reports, underwater archaeologists have discovered what appears to be a dry land corridor that once connected northeast Michigan and southern Ontario. Scientists say the main feature, known as Drop 45 Drive Lane, is the most complex hunting structure discovered beneath the Great Lakes to date.

The 9,000-year-old limestone structure consists of two parallel lines of stones that lead to a cul-de-sac lined with natural cobblestones. If the findings are correct, the hunting complex would be twice as old as Stonehenge.

It is highly possible that the site in Grand Traverse Bay may have served a similar function to the one found in Lake Huron.

The exact location of the “Stonehenge-like” structure in Lake Michigan is still a mystery. In order to show the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa tribes respect for their ancestral heritage and to prevent the site from being inadvertently destroyed, Dr. Holley was kind enough to notify them of his discovery.

A Fresno junk store in California sold a photo of Billy the Kid for less than $2 — it’s worth $5 million

A Fresno junk store in California sold a photo of Billy the Kid for less than $2 — it’s worth $5 million

A Fresno junk store in California sold a photo of Billy the Kid for less than $2 — it’s worth $5 million

A photograph of the American cowboy, Billy the Kid, is being put up for sale and is expected to fetch more than $5 million. The photograph is one of only two believed to still be in existence and was bought by the seller at a junk shop in California 9 years ago.

Randy Guijarro was hunting for treasures at a Fresno, CA, junk shop in 2010—but he hardly expected to find a real treasure.

Guijarro came across an old photograph inside a cardboard box. It seemed to be from the 19th century, so he figured it was a cool collector’s item. He paid $2 for the image and went on his way.

But after a long authentication process, Kagin’s, a San Francisco-based Americana company, has verified that the image is one of the only two photographs ever taken of Henry McCarty, better known as the infamous Western outlaw Billy the Kid. The best part? The photograph actually depicts him playing croquet.

A rare coin dealer in California has concluded that a grainy image of legendary gunman Billy the Kid playing croquet is the real thing and could be worth as much as $5 million.

What?! The infamous shoot-out cowboy gangster playing the super-genteel lawn sport? Say it isn’t so!

The photograph was apparently taken in the summer of 1878 after a wedding—just the time period when croquet was one of America’s most popular pastimes.

The photo, which was confirmed to have been taken in Chaves County, NM, shows a group of 15 or so figures, purportedly Billy the Kid and the Regulators (his gang), among others.

The photo is estimated to have been taken a mere month after the notorious Lincoln County War.

McCarty’s life was brief, but he left an indelible mark on American history. Billy the Kid was a known thief and murderer, who was killed in a gunfight at 21 years old.

He went relatively unknown for most of that time until New Mexico governor Lew Wallace put a price on his head, and he violently escaped prison.

Billy the Kid meets his end at the hands of Sheriff Pat Garrett in Fort Sumner, New Mexico. This violent scene is the finale of G Waldo Browne’s ‘Dandy Rock, the Man from Texas’.

When the photo was first brought to Kagin’s, experts were understandably skeptical. David McCarthy, who worked on authenticating the photo, said, “An original Billy the Kid photo is the holy grail of Western Americana.”

He described the painstaking, year-long process behind authentication:

We had to be certain that we could answer and verify where, when, how and why this photograph was taken.

Simple resemblance is not enough in a case like this – a team of experts had to be assembled to address each and every detail in the photo to ensure that nothing was out of place.

The only other known confirmed tintype photograph of Billy the Kid was taken in 1880 and was sold for a whopping $2.3 million in 2011.

Collectors estimate that this new, shockingly rare photograph could sell for as little as $2 million and as much as $5 million. Not a bad haul for a junk shop find!

In a Californian gold mine, 40 million year old tools were found

In a Californian gold mine, 40 million-year-old tools were found

At Table Mountain and other locations in the gold mining region around the middle of the nineteenth century, miners discovered hundreds of stone artifacts and human bones buried deep inside their tunnels.

Experts claim that these bones and artifacts were found embedded in layers from the Eocene epoch (38-55 million years).

The Auriferous Gravels of the Sierra Nevada of California, written by Dr. J. D. Whitney, the leading government geologist in California, was published in 1880 by Harvard University’s Peabody Museum of Comparative Zoology.

In a Californian gold mine, 40 million-year-old tools were found

However, because the information went against accepted Darwinist theories on human origins, it was excluded from scholarly discussions. In 1849, gold was found in the gravels of old riverbeds on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, drawing large numbers of rowdy adventurers to settlements including Brandy City, Last Chance, Lost Camp, You Bet, and Poker Flat.

Initially, solitary miners searched for flakes and nuggets among the gravels that had made their way into the present-day streambeds. Auriferous (gold-bearing) gravels were quickly washed from hillsides by high-pressure water jets while other gold-mining businesses bored holes into mountainside deposits and followed the gravel deposits wherever they led.

The miners found hundreds of stone items as well as human fossils. The scientific community received the most crucial information from Dr. J. D. Whitney.

Artifacts from hydraulic mining and surface deposits were of questionable age, while deep mine shaft and tunnel artifacts could be more accurately dated. According to J. D. Whitney, the geological evidence revealed that the auriferous gravels were at least Pliocene in age.

However, according to modern geologists, some of the gravel layers are Eocene in origin. In Tuolumne County’s Table Mountain, several holes were dug, traveling through thick strata of latite, a basaltic volcanic substance, before arriving to the gravels containing gold.

In other instances, the tunnels stretched hundreds of feet horizontally beneath the latite top. The age of findings from the gravels directly above the bedrock might be between 33.2 and 55 million years old, and those from other gravels could be between 9 and 55 million years old.

According to William B. Holmes, a physical anthropologist at the Smithsonian Institution, “If Professor Whitney had fully appreciated the story of human evolution as it is understood today, he would have hesitated to announce the conclusions formulated, notwithstanding the imposing array of testimony with which he was confronted.” Or, to put it another way, the theory had to be rejected if the evidence did not support it, which is exactly what happened.

The Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, still has some of the items Whitney mentioned on exhibit.

Darwinism and other isms had an effect on how archaeological evidence was handled in Hueyatlaco, Mexico. Archaeologists working under the direction of Cynthia Irwin-Williams found stone tools there in the 1970s that were associated to bones from butchered animals.

A group of geologists, including Virginia Steen-McIntyre, dated the location.

The age of the site was established using four different techniques: stratigraphic analysis, zircon fission track dating on volcanic layers above the artifact layers, tephra hydration dating of volcanic crystals found in volcanic layers above the artifact layers, and uranium-series dates on butchered animal bones.

The reason the archaeologists were hesitant to put an age on the site was because they thought that (1) no humans were around 250,000 years ago anyplace on the earth, and (2) no humans visited North America until at most 15,000 or 20,000 years ago.

At Table Mountain and other locations in the gold mining region around the middle of the nineteenth century, miners discovered hundreds of stone artifacts and human bones buried deep inside their tunnels.

Experts claim that these bones and artifacts were found embedded in layers from the Eocene epoch (38-55 million years). The leading government geologist in California, Dr. J. D. Whitney, disclosed this information.

Century-Old Little Girl Found In Coffin Under San Francisco Home Identified

Century-Old Little Girl Found In Coffin Under San Francisco Home Identified

Researchers announced that the 19th-century body of a little girl found last year in a small metal casket under a San Francisco home was identified. The girl was Edith Howard Cook, two-year-old, who died on October 13, 1876, six weeks short of her third birthday, said the charity Garden of Innocence.

Elissa Davey, a genealogist and founder of the Garden of Innocence Project, last year arranged a reburial of the girl in Colma and began her search to identify the remains.

Scientists caught a break after hundreds of hours trying to find Edith’s identity when they discovered a map of the old cemetery at a University of California, Berkeley library, and matched it to a plot where her parents, Horatio Cook and Edith Scooffy, were once buried.

Researchers looked for living descendants once they had the family name, one of whom volunteered his DNA for research. Marin County resident Peter Cook – Edith’s grandnephew – was a match for DNA taken from strands of her hair.

UC Davis Professor Jelmer Eerkens, who helped with the DNA testing, told KTVU that Edith died of marasmus, which is severe undernourishment.

‘It’s likely she was sick with some disease and at some point her immune system couldn’t combat the disease and probably went into coma and passed away,’ he said. 

Edith’s remains, found by construction workers last May, were apparently left behind when about 30,000 people originally buried in San Francisco’s Odd Fellows Cemetery in the Richmond District were moved in the 1920s to Greenlawn Memorial Park in Colma
After hundreds of hours trying to find Edith’s identity, researchers caught a break when they found a map of the old cemetery at a library and matched it to a plot where her parents, Horatio Cook and Edith Scooffy, were once buried. Pictured is her tiny casket

The girl’s well-off family gave her an ornate burial. She was clothed in a white christening dress and ankle-high boots.  Tiny purple flowers were woven into her hair and she held a purple Nightshade flower in her right hand. 

Roses, eucalyptus leaves and baby’s breath were placed inside the coffin, according to the Garden of Innocence report.

Edith’s father was a businessman, the report said. 

Her maternal grandfather was an original member of the Society of California Pioneers, which is an organization founded by California residents who arrived before 1850.

When the child was initially discovered, she was named Miranda Eve, until she was finally identified. During a reburial service last May, people from all over California came to pay their respects to Edith, whose blonde hair and skin were still perfectly preserved. 

The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic based fraternal organization, dressed to the nines to carry the casket to its resting place.  Four men lowered a new, cherry-wood casket into the earth as approximately 100 mourners threw flowers and petals on top.

Speakers played ‘A Trumpeter’s Lullaby’ during the 10am memorial.  Michael Dunn, from the Garden of Innocence, said it was important they buried Edith because she’d been forgotten for so long.

‘She was forgotten and overlooked for more than 100 years, that ends today,’ Dunn said last year. 

Garden of Innocence charity Ellisa Davey has been helping to bury the bodies of unidentified children in California for nearly 20 years. Once the child’s body was found, Davey got in touch with homeowner Ericka Karner.

During the reburial service last May, people from all over California came to pay their respects to Edith, whose blonde hair and skin were still perfectly preserved
Four men lowered a new, cherry-wood casket into the earth as approximately 100 mourners threw flowers and petals on top. Speakers played ‘A Trumpeter’s Lullaby’ during the 10 am memorial.
Several people dropped handfuls of rose petals into little Edith’s grave during the reburial last May

Davey then planned for Miranda’s reburial. ‘It was tough, very tough. But she is not just our child. She is everyone’s,’ she said. 

All materials used in the funeral, including the casket, were donated. 

Her headstone, in the shape of a heart, reads: ‘Miranda Eve. The Child Loved Around The World. If no one grieves, No one will remember!’  

The back was made flat in case her real name was discovered. Now, since she is known as Edith, her name will be etched into the back. Construction workers were remodeling Karner’s childhood home in the Richmond District when they hit the lead and bronze coffin buried underneath the concrete garage. 

The three-foot casket’s two windows revealed Edith’s perfectly preserved skin and long blonde hair. Construction worker Kevin Boylan told KTVU at the time: ‘All the hair was still there. The nails were there. There were flowers – roses, still on the child’s body. It was a sight to see.’ 

There were no markings on the purple velvet-lined coffin to identify the child after she was discovered on May 9, 2016.

Karner was soon surprised to find out from the medical examiner’s office that the child had become her responsibility. The city refused to take custody of Edith, and the problems continued when Karner tried to have the girl reburied. Karner was told she needed a death certificate to obtain a burial permit for the girl. A Colma undertaker was willing to take the body – for a cool $7,000. 

Construction workers were remodeling Ericka Karner’s childhood home (pictured) in the Richmond District when they made the discovery
It is believed the girl was one of the 30,000 people who were buried in the city’s Odd Fellows Cemetery, which was shut in 1890. The bodies were moved to allow for redevelopment

An East Bay archaeological company’s price was even steeper at $22,000. 

Meanwhile, Edith’s body was deteriorating inside her coffin in Karner’s backyard because the seal was broken after the coroner’s superior instructed him to open the casket.

‘It didn’t seem right,’ Karner told the San Francisco Chronicle last year. ‘The city decided to move all these bodies 100 years ago, and they should stand behind their decision.’ 

City Hall finally put Karner in touch with someone who could help, connecting her to the Garden of Innocence. 

That’s when Davey, who was able to secure the funds needed to have the coffin picked up and temporarily stored in a mortuary refrigerator in Fresno, said they needed to do the ‘right thing’.

‘That girl was somebody’s child,’ she said. ‘We had to pick her up.’ 

It was obvious to Davey that Miranda’s parents loved her very much. 

‘Just by looking at the way they dressed her,’ she wrote. ‘Their sorrow was great. We will love her too.’   

Davey has been saving forgotten children since 1998, when she read a story about a baby boy who died after he was dumped in a trash can at a college campus.

A month later, the boy was still on her mind. She called up the county coroner, who told her the boy was headed for an unmarked grave if he was not claimed. 

Davey asked what she could do and the coroner replied she could lay claim to the boy, as long as she proved to him she had a ‘dignified place’ to lay the child to rest, according to Inside Edition. 

Since that day, Davey and Garden of Innocence has provided memorial services to nearly 300 unclaimed children.  The children are all given names before they are buried with a blanket, soft toy and personalized poem in a wooden casket fitted with lace, made by the Boy Scouts. Services are sometimes attended by up to 300 people, including military members, policemen and even parents who have lost children of their own. 

‘We have become a place where people find closure,’ Davey said.

And it is closure Davey wanted and received for little Edith.