USF Team May Have Found Dozier School's 'White Cemetery' Site

By: Eric Giunta | Posted: July 11, 2013 3:55 AM

Dozier School Crosses

Credit: whitehouseboys.org

Researchers at the University of South Florida have their sights set on excavating what they say might be the location of the long-rumored “white cemetery” at Marianna's infamous Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, and one of them says that might just be the tip of the iceberg.

“We thought this was private property,” Dr. E. Christian Wells, one of the archaeologists leading the ongoing excavations, tells Sunshine State News, of a square-shaped strip of land that lies just north of the school's Boot Hill cemetery. “But now that we know it's state property ... it's an area of interest for us.”

According to the state's official story, Dozier only ever had one cemetery, named “Boot Hill” and located in what used to be the African-American section of the Marianna campus. Supposedly, and contrary to prevailing practice at the time elsewhere in America – and especially in the South – the 113-year-old school complex did not have separate cemeteries for blacks and whites. Even in the days of segregation, children who died in the state's custody, whatever their race, were supposedly buried on Boot Hill, enjoying in the grave the racial ecumenism they were denied while alive.

Dozier Map

Dozier map (click to enlarge)

But “[t]here have been several reports of graves witnessed to the north of the Boot Hill cemetery as reported by former students of the school and families of the deceased, who were shown graves in multiple locations by staff of the school in the 1980s,” Wells wrote in a July 8 letter to Mary Glowacki, the state archaeologist, as part of an application seeking a permit to excavate whatever bodies his team might come across.

“The area ... approximately one half mile north [of Boot Hill] was unknown to the USF research team until several weeks ago,” the letter continues. “It is therefore quite possible that the graves that were reported north of the Boot Hill cemetery were located in this northern area and, in order to determine such, that area should be cleared of underbrush and thoroughly searched[.]”

That area is nearly a mile northeast of the site where three former inmates of the reform school have previously told SSN they saw grave markers when they were incarcerated in the 1960s. Yet another survivor-witness situates the "white cemetery" almost 2,000 feet away, in an area now occupied by some sort of parking lot with a covered carport.

Wells says his team may well be searching for more than one additional burial site.

“Historically, if you look at other state institutions, in Florida and in adjacent states, there are often segregated cemeteries – two cemeteries,” he explains to SSN. “That said, based on our historical and archival research, we would not be surprised if there were additional burial areas; by which I mean, where some bodies were buried indiscriminately, but not in a formal cemetery setting.”

(The four survivors who have shared their stories with SSN have said the burial grounds they witnessed were marked with several white crosses and appeared to be formal cemeteries.)

Dozier burial site

Another possible burial site

Though it's still too early to say for certain, Wells does expect his team to turn up more bodies eventually.

“Ever since we started the work up at Dozier, the people that we've collaborated with have always said that there is a second cemetery somewhere on the property,” he explains. “We've talked to about 30 to 40 people, and each one points in a different direction. ... There may be more burial areas, but we anticipate finding two formal cemeteries.”

USF's researchers have already verified the deaths of two adult Dozier staff members and 96 children inmates between 1914 and 1973. The school which was opened in 1900, finally shut down in 2011 after decades of reported allegations by inmates who claimed to have suffered physical and sexual abuse at the hands of staffers and other students.

Reach Eric Giunta at egiunta@sunshinestatenews.com or at 954-235-9116.

Comments (13)

Bob Baxter
7:49AM AUG 13TH 2014
For 111years the darkest secrets of the The Florida Industrial School for boys later named Dozier remained hidden. It is time too let the sunlight in a dirty cruel secret reveal to the world what went on there . Can't say Thank you enough to the Uof SF and Erin Kimmerle . I pray as she goes through the next year her safety will be a priority of all State Authority. The bad things that happen in Jackson County have a way of disappearing and hiding the facts .
Sammy Bartlett
12:43PM JUL 14TH 2013
Interesting that there are many other such facilities that have abused so many and the state continues to lie and cover up their crimes. Remember the Jeb Bush Boot Camp child abuse reports. For over 20 years the Lake Sheriff and his friends run a boys ranch that was the scene of one child rape after another. Never was one person charged with a crime. This leads some to wonder how many dead boys might be buried at Green Isle. It will take as long to get the right people involved and all the snakes that abused these boys eill be dead by that time. That is all the want anyway. They protect their sick friends all the way no matter what they have to do to do so.

Since we can't post links on here google Green Isle Boys Ranch and go to the 44 page summary to see how this sheriff covered up that last five little boys rapes!
Babbs Cooper
7:53PM JUL 12TH 2013
The Light is on and the truth shall prevail. We the families of the survivor's are so Blessed to have them today!! The monsters tried to make monster's out of all that they abused so they would be like them. Damn Florida for the suffering of so many children and those that went lost. We must stand strong and hope that Dr Erin and her team get permission to continue soon.
Daniel Holloway
3:43PM JUL 12TH 2013
There are cadavier dogs at A.C.I. and track dogs with a hundred year bloodline right down the road.The state used the track dogs to chase the escaped students now bring in the cadavier dogs to find them again
james franklin
8:10AM JUL 12TH 2013
I was there in the 60s and I share a lot of Holloways views. I hate authourity with a passion. Could never work a job long, just couldn't let anyone tell me what to do. I made myself be successful working for myself. If anyone thinks the state of florida is going to work to solve this in a dignified manner, they have to be crazier than I have become. There are boys buried there that need to be returned to relatives and to bring closure to this thing. Noone wants to dig up a deep dark past. It has to be done.
Daniel Holloway
4:53AM JUL 12TH 2013
If you was shot at Dozier on escape your body was wrapped up in your bed linen and put in a shallow grave with no respect or service.The mentality of the staff that worked at Dozier was that of prison guards not cottage fathers and you was treated like inmates not students.You were always talked down to like you was trash.Thats why I`m so nastiy to lawyers and politicians that I do not like i talk down to them as if they are trash and use no respect because that is how I was rasied by the state and abusive parents
Daniel Holloway
4:09AM JUL 12TH 2013
The state removed the cross`s from the white cemetary and put up a maintenance building and parking lot they could have dumped the head stones in the school dump along with some dug up bodies the only reason that they would get a permit to search the dump area other wise them kids are now under a building and parking lot.The bodies are only in shallow graves with no caskets they are guilty of genacide,rape and murder went to church on sunday`s and raped little boys on monday`s.I got some KKK pictures off Florida Memory of a gathering of hooded meeting it shows them in there Klan attire with there hands hanging out of their robes they are all hands of white men except for just one pair of a blackmans hands.I found a few more pictures of black men wearing KKK attire and hoods.
9:19PM JUL 11TH 2013
Also, has anyone here actually read what the university has written? They say the cemetery is NOT a crime scene, that they have NO evidence of murders and that they DO NOT expect to solve crimes from exhumations. In other words, they want to spend a lot of money and not do anything. I suppose that makes sense considering they are "academics."
9:14PM JUL 11TH 2013
Question of logic here... If we are talking about separate cemeteries from the days of segregation, why would the state mark the black cemetery but not mark the white one? That doesn't even make sense. Blacks were second class citizens then. Do "reporters" and "scientists" even think anymore?
Daniel Holloway
6:15PM JUL 11TH 2013
Forrest Forrest Gump knows the state has cadaver dogs at Sneads right down the road.I gave you the picture handed it to you idiots on a silver platter I`ll get somebody to in large it you know nothing if you weren`t there i thought you lawyers had more ivy leaque intelligence stupid idiots to smart to know anything
Claude Robins
10:52AM JUL 11TH 2013
I was in the school in 1953-1954. There were no fences at the time, because the fear of torture and/or death kept the boys in line. Probably some of the bodies dug up will have broken bones, shattered skulls, or other signs of abuse. Some of the employees at the institution were ok, others were sadistic and un-educated. Some would beat a child to death and get away with it. I think they killed a part of me, but I am trying to recover, (sixty years later) with the help of a great family. Now the fence is needed to keep the general public from finding the poor, innocent, shattered bodies which for sure were buried in different places at the institution. I say damn the souls of every man who took part in the killings and even just in the beatings. Yes, the truth is about to surface!
Peggy Marx
8:40AM JUL 11TH 2013
Keep looking USF the truth will come to light ONE DAY!!!!!!
Terry V. Levins
8:20AM JUL 11TH 2013
I can't wait for USF team to uncover the "truth" that has been hidden for year's from the public. May we find justice soon and make the "state" pay for allowing this to happened to those young, innocent boy's that were killed then buried and forgotten about.

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