Grave identified in possible cemetery theft in Crawford County

December 18, 2014

After the discovery of a dug-up grave at Old Bethel Methodist Church last week, the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office has released the identity of the Confederate soldier who was buried there.

The unearthed grave belongs to Lt. James A. Nichols, who was born in 1832 and died in 1866, about a year after the Civil War ended.

“Right now, it looks like with him being a first lieutenant in the Confederate army, they might have been looking for artifacts,” Crawford County Sheriff Lewis Walker said.

The investigation continues into a possible theft of the grave’s contents, but no one can be sure if anything is missing.

“This is an unusual case, so what we’re doing, we’re trying to reach out to family members,” Walker said. “I don’t know if there will be any family members who are familiar enough with him.”

Once the unearthed grave was found last week, Walker called in the GBI to inspect the contents.

“Our biggest challenge is back in that time they must have used pine boxes, and if so, we kind of figure it had deteriorated, and so have the remains,” Walker said.

He does not suspect that any remains were taken, but he said he had never encountered something like this in his nearly 30 years with the sheriff’s office. Nichols’ plot was the only one disturbed in a graveyard of at least 50 to 60 graves off Causey Road.

The grave was dug up sometime between Thanksgiving and Dec. 12.

Anyone with information is asked to call the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office at 478-836-3116, or phone tips to Macon Regional Crimestoppers at 877-68-CRIME.

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