Prince George's County graveyard moved for homes, strip mall

There is a debate over whether a local graveyard with remains of early Maryland settlers should have been moved.

The site is located off Crain Highway in Prince George's County. The graves were moved to make way for some development.

"The deed is done,” said Cecily Hilleary, a descendant of those buried.

Hilleary loves history, especially when it comes to her family, who settled in the Prince George’s County area in the 1600s. By the time she found out the graveyard was the final resting place for several of her ancestors, it was too late. But others had been fighting against the move.

"It's something that other people have been battling for at least two or three years,” Hilleary said.

The process to remove the graves has been in the works for years.

The developer, Ryko Development, wanted to build homes and a strip mall near the site.

Jennifer Stabler, an archaeologist with the Prince George's County planning department, told ABC7 12 of the 15 graves have already been removed.

The headstones are gone, Stabler said.

The remains will eventually be reburied at Trinity Episcopal Church in Upper Marlboro.

Hilleary is concerned over the possibility slaves could also be buried at the site.

If that’s the case, she said, “They deserve just an honorable burial as my ancestors…any positions that they had was built by the people that they owned,” Hilleary said.

After testing, Stabler said so far the remains belong to Caucasian members of the family.

ABC7 reached out to the developer but never got a response.

However, county officials said the developer went through the right process.

Hilleary believes there should be laws in place to prevent this from happening again.