- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 4, 2015

HERRIN, Ill. (AP) - A southern Illinois town where striking union coal miners clashed with replacement workers in one of the nation’s deadliest labor conflicts has completed an effort to identify victims buried nearly one century ago in unmarked graves.

Most of the 23 victims of the June 1922 Herrin Massacre were buried in an old pauper’s field at the city cemetery. An archaeological team has worked since 2009 to pinpoint those burial locations.

The Herrin City Council voted unanimously Oct. 26 to curtail the excavation after the research team located the remaining eight of 16 burial plots under review, the (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan (https://bit.ly/1XMvy9x ) reports. Researchers had hoped to continue working to confirm a theorized location of one victim.

Mayor Steve Frattini said factors in the decision to restrict excavating included costs to refill holes and concerns of family members of those buried in the area more recently.

“We were under the impression everything was concluded and research was done and the council thought there was no further need for any disruption at that the cemetery,” Frattini said.

Eastern Illinois University professor Steven DiNaso said researchers had a “few unexplored areas we wanted to look at,” but that he felt researchers succeeded in their efforts.

“Beyond a shadow of a doubt we’ve identified all 16 graves. We know locations and depths and can put names to bodies to most of them,” DiNaso said.

An exception to the council’s vote, Frattini said, would be made for families of victims who ask about identifying the location of a relative. But he said the request would be made through standard procedure, not as a continuation of the project to pinpoint burial locations.

Relatives of the 17th victim buried at the cemetery, Ignatz Kubinetz, are interested in petitioning the city to let researchers confirm where he’s buried. Ken Kormanak, who is Kubinetz’s great-nephew, said the family just wants closure.

“It’s just knowing he’s there and where exactly he is located and that he’s not forgotten,” Kormanak said.

The city unveiled a cemetery monument in June naming 17 of the victims. Officials had previously tried to halt the dig and block access to cemetery records.

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