To onlookers, it might appear like a scene from an episode of the television show Crime Scene Investigation. Specially trained dogs and remote sensing technologies are being used at multiple Church historic sites to discover elements of the past. Benjamin Pykles, a historic sites curator with the Church History Department, gave a presentation at the annual Quey Hebrew Memorial lecture March 27 at Brigham Young University detailing research at five locations.
In April 2012, the Church acquired an 80-acre parcel of land from the Community of Christ in Far West, Missouri. It is believed to contain a cemetery with about 200 to 250 graves of early Church members, including Apostle David W. Patten, said Brother Pykles.
With only a few clues to go on, researchers used an 1897 atlas showing the symbol of a schoolhouse and an unidentified rectangle. “We don’t know what it is. It wasn’t labeled. From other sources we had a hunch that it might be the cemetery,” he said.