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Late 19th Century Burial Ground Explored At South Bay Hospital

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Archaeologists excavate a cemetery known as a potter's field at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose on June 13, 2013. (Jeff Burbank / Bay City News Service)

Archaeologists excavate a cemetery known as a potter’s field at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center in San Jose on June 13, 2013. (Jeff Burbank / Bay City News Service)

MikeColgan20100909_KCBS_0410r Mike Colgan
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SAN JOSE (KCBS) — Archaeologists are nearing completion of excavating a potter’s field on the campus of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. So far 631 coffins have been discovered and work in the painstakingly slow process should be completed by the end of the year.

VMC Spokeswoman Joy Alexiou said the graves date back to the 1890s, but that a public hospital has been on site since 1876.

“It’s an updated excavation of our potter’s field, which was a burial ground for people that were either unidentified, unclaimed or their family simply didn’t have the money to bury them. They were typical around county hospitals turn of the century,” she said.

Alexiou said the excavations are being done with plenty of care.

“We’ve had a lot of personal items in the coffins buried with individuals. Lots of spectacles, a number of pocket knives, some clothing; including a wool jacket and some shoes and just various other personal items,” she added.

One resident said he believes his great, great, great uncle is buried at the location. Unfortunately, the one-time affluent ranchero died when his fortune changed hands and he may have ended up in this pauper’s field.

The names of those buried here will likely never be known because the coffins contain no identifying marks.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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