Human remains found in Sturgis could be Revolutionary War veteran

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STURGIS, Mich. (WNDU) - Local historians believe human remains found in Sturgis could be those of a Revolutionary War veteran.

The bones of at least three adults and two children were found Tuesday and Wednesday on property near Bogen Road and Nottawa Street. The Western Michigan University Forensic Anthropology Unit continued its search into Wednesday afternoon.

“Now, these aren’t complete sets of remains; they are portions of individuals," WMU forensic anthropologist Carolyn Issacs said.

Meanwhile, local historians are hopeful they can identify at least one of the remains.

“The men that serve our country should never be in an unmarked grave, anywhere," said Anne Davis, a member of the Lagrange-De Lafayette chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

Davis and Stoney Summey have been researching a veteran named David Randall, who lived from 1765-1835. They say the Randall family came to Sturgis area in 1833 from Ohio and owned land near the discovery site.

His military pension papers reveal he died in October 1835, but they do not list where he was buried.

“We have his enlistment documents and his pension file. He was drawing a pension for his service to our country during the war," said Summey, the veterans affairs coordinator for St. Joseph County, Michigan.

“He signed in the New Jersey militia and served through the duration of the war," Davis said.

If Randall is identified, Davis said he has descendants in the area.
One reached out to the local Daughters of the American Revolution chapter about four years ago and has already taken a DNA test.

“If we don’t check it and the opportunity is lost, then this patriot may never have a headstone, his family may never know where he is," Davis said.

Issacs also said it is possible to get mitochondrial DNA to potentially link these remains to his living family.

As for now, the forensic anthropology team will clean up bones, divide them into individuals to help determine ages, gender, ancestry and other characteristics.

They will also stay alert for any other remains that are found, a process they say will take months, but people here are being patient.