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Finding the Bankhead children

$980 of $1,000 goal

Raised by 26 people in 2 months
My great great-grandfather, Nathan Bankhead, was the slave of John H. Bankhead, an early Mormon convert who came to Utah in 1848 with the ‘Mississippi Saints’.  The Bankhead families, both white and black settled in Wellsville, Utah around 1860 where Nathan lived for over 30 years.  
     During the time they lived in Wellsville, three of the  black Bankhead children died and were buried in a segregated part of the Wellsville Cemetery. Town vandals kept destroying the grave markers until they  stop replacing them. The cemetery was plotted and fenced in 1884, so no one seems to know exactly where they are buried, just the general area.
     There was great sorrow at the loss of these children.  Nathan, Jr. – [1875 – 1885], was 10 when he died of Inflammation of the bowels. A year later, they lost Margaret – Maggie – [1883 - 1886] to a bad heart. Nathan’s son George, our progenitor, lost his first born son, George, Jr. [1877-1881], died of Scarlet Fever when he was 4.  Our babies need to be found … they need to be remembered.
      The good news is that now there is ground penetrating radar [GPR] that can help us find them.  I am trying to raise $600 to pay for the GPR, plus hopefully we'll raise enough for headstone so they are named not forgotten.
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WE FOUND THEM!
On October 11, five of the descendants of Nathan Bankhead met – in the beautiful old cemetery in Wellsville; on a clear, crisp Utah fall day; to an unexpected, but appreciated warm welcome from the City; and with new ground penetrating radar technology (GPR) found over century-old graves. From reading Mormon stories, accounts in the book, “Windows of Wellsville”, by LaRayne Bankhead Christensen and records from the Wellsville cemetery records, there should be 4 graves together - 3 child-sized, and one adult size grave segregated from the other graves, likely at the edge of the cemetery.
And that’s exactly what the GPR found. In the corner, facing east towards the snow-topped mountains the GPR located four graves together, 3 small, and one large. There are more unidentified graves in this section of the cemetery, but, there’s at least a 2 grave width space between these four and the others.
The radar looks like a glorified lawn mower, so as the technician rolls the radar over an area, he marks the edges of the graves with a flag. The first grave had only four flags - a child - probably four-year old George, Jr. He died in 1881, the first of the children to die.
The next grave had 6 flags, an adult, “Lewis”, another slave of John H. Bankhead brought to Utah in 1848. Reportedly, he was a good athlete and was persuaded to go to California to compete and earn his freedom by digging for gold. During a jumping competition, he burst a blood vessel and died. This grave confirms the story that John H. traveled all the way to California to pick up his body and brought him to Wellsville for burial.
Four flags – another child, likely 10 year-old, Nathan, Jr. (1885). So, the last 4 flags had to be 3 year-old, Maggie, 1886. One of the men from the cemetery showed us how 2 wires from these flags can be dowsing rods and showed us how to use them. We were freaked out at how accurate the rods were, we could verify them with the GPR. However, they are not precise enough to tell the size of the grave – child or adult – or, if it’s a water main. But he said they can determine the gender - if the rod swings to the right, it’s a boy … just as the rod in my left hand swung eerily left as I walked over this last grave, I knew it was Maggie.
THANK YOU
To all of you wonderful people who contributed to the GoFundMe, thank you. May your generosity be rewarded ten-fold, Through your help enough money was raised to pay the $600 to GPRS for the ground penetrating radar survey with some left over for a monument(s). I plan is to consult with the family and have something in place in time for our 2019 Family Reunion in Utah.
Thank you Mayor Bailey. We had a rocky start and you had a longer way to come to meet in the middle and I’m grateful you did and hope the experience was a just reward. Special regards to Scott Wells, City Manager and Leesa Cooper, Cemetery Recorder for all the help they gave us. It was our pleasure to share the services of GRPS with the cemetery so that all the unidentified graves could be found, staked and – REMEMBERED, if not named.
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Thank you everyone for your love and support. May your kindness be rewarded.
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$980 of $1,000 goal

Raised by 26 people in 2 months
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