HILLSBORO, Ore. -- History detectives gathered Monday along a farm field on Northwest 253rd Avenue in Hillsboro.
They were using high-tech equipment--ground-penetrating radar--hoping to find the remains of children who died more than 150 years ago. The search comes as the city of Hillsboro plans to pave over the area for a new roadway.
“We did find some buried anomalies,” said Shawn Steinmetz, who helped run the machine. “We don’t know what they are and the archaeologists will come in behind us to investigate those areas."
Judy Goldmann is the great granddaughter of Joseph Meek. He was a pioneer who became the first sheriff of the territory, which is now Washington County.
“There weren’t obvious markers or anything of that nature, but we do believe that it was their burial place and probably of other Indian people as well," Goldmann said.
Goldmann is the Meek family historian. She said Joseph Meek married three times. He had 12 children with his third wife, a Nez Perce Indian named Virginia.
Five of the children died, at least four are believed buried somewhere along the edge of the field, which used to hold a Methodist meeting house.
“Well there's a lot of history here in the beginnings of Oregon,” said Bob Sanders, the Assistant Director of Public Works for the City of Hillsboro.
Paving and widening NW Brookwood was triggered by the state changing the intersection of Meek Road.
“ODOT is doing an intersection project here that's going to take out Meek Road, so this community needs to come out another way," said Sanders.
But before they do, the history detectives will do their best to find the remains of pioneer children who died so long ago.
The man overseeing the ground-penetrating radar knows it’s an important task.
“It’s part of everyone's history in the county, it’s part of everyone's history here in Oregon, so I think we all have a stake in it," said Steinmetz.
Investigators will return in two or three weeks to dig up suspected areas along the field. If remains are found, the city will work with local tribes to decide how to handle them.