More than six graves from the 1850s, belonging to the ancestors of a Potomac resident, have been dug up and moved to make way for a Prince George's County shopping center. Some family descendants say they tried to stop the developer to no avail.
Archaeologists excavated the graves of the George W. Hilleary family, buried in the 1850s on the Beechwood Mansion property off Crain Highway last week.
“I tried to stop this,” said Cecily Hilleary, a descendant and a resident of Potomac. “I went out there and told them I was not happy.”
George W. Hilleary was a brother of a great aunt’s husband about five generations back, Cecily learned through Ancestry.com. She said George’s grave is one of those removed.
Another descendant, Margaret Whippee, who now lives in Anne Arundel County, said her great, great-grandfather, the late Henry Hilleary, was also buried on the site.
“I don’t see any reason to [move the graves],” she said. “The developer should have built around it; marked it with a little fence.”
Cecily learned of the planned relocation earlier this year from a local activist. She contacted the state’s attorney’s office and the county’s historical society, but said she was told there was nothing she could do legally.
The shopping center will be built on 28-acre lot next to the 1,200 acre-Beechtree neighborhood off Leeland Road, which will contain at its completion about 1,700 single-family homes, 500 townhouses and 240 multi-family units. Ground broke on the development in 2002, according to The Washington Post.