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Society startled by find
Once thought lost, bones likely those of early pioneer
Forsyth County Coroner Lauren McDonald collects the remains of Jacob Scudder, long-thought to have been destroyed. After inspecting the bones, McDonald plans to return them to those restoring a historical cemetery in northwestern Forsyth. - photo by Jim Dean

A significant figure from Forsyth County’s past soon will be returned to his final resting place.

While working late last week in the Jacob Scudder family cemetery, located in a northwestern Forsyth subdivision, members of the local historical society made an unexpected discovery — Scudder’s bones.

"We were trying to get out the marble and reconstruct the grave site," said Martha McConnell, a member of the society.

"We had been told we wouldn’t find anything so we were very surprised."

McConnell explained that in the 1970s or ’80s someone used a machine to destroy Scudder’s grave.

The broken stones and marble had then been dumped back into the plot. For years, it was not known what happened to Scudder’s bones.

The vandalism likely stemmed from a legend that Scudder had been buried with gold entrusted to him by Cherokee Indians before the Trail of Tears.

Scudder, who died in 1870, had been an Indian trader and was the first state senator from Cherokee County.

He reportedly brought a motion before the Georgia legislature that created 10 counties, including Forsyth, from Cherokee County.

McConnell said Scudder had the burial site designed as a type of mausoleum after his wife, Diana, died in 1867.

The historic cemetery, now part of the Preserve of Etowah subdivision, was destroyed by time and vandals.

It had been the focus of an Eagle Scout project begun by Bradley Graham, who died in a late November hunting accident before completing his goal.

Graham’s fellow troop members took up the project in his honor. They cleaned up the cemetery, restored damaged grave markers and added crosses where there were no stones.

While working on Scudder’s grave last week, members of the historical society also found pieces of his coffin.

They covered the site with a tarp and notified Forsyth County Coroner Lauren McDonald, who collected the bones Monday.

McDonald said he will keep them until Saturday, when they can be returned to the grave.

"We’ve talked to the chief medical examiner, Dr. Kris Sperry, and because of where [the bones] were found our goal is to place him back in there and cover up this grave," McDonald said.

He added that Sperry saw no reason to send the bones to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Society members are expected to return to the cemetery this week as they continue their efforts to restore it and lay Scudder to rest for good.

McConnell said they also hope to return the headstones that once marked the graves of Scudder and his wife.

The stones are in the possession of another society member.

She said the group could use some help in restoring Scudder’s grave and donations of epoxy, a hardener, are needed.

Myra Reidy, another society member, said Scudder’s wife may be an ancestor of hers. She recalled how support for restoring the cemetery came together.

"Bradley had a real interest in doing this and he was so excited about this project," Reidy said. "He was a wonderful young man … it’s a shame and a pity [Scudder’s] grave is in the shape it’s in."