Smithsonian Exhuming a man, and history (Virginia)





ISLE OF WIGHT, Va. -- Descendants of a prosperous Colonial-era man watched yesterday as archaeologists exhumed his remains from beneath a slab in the floor of historic St. Luke's Church.

The family agreed to have Col. Joseph Bridger's bones dug up and analyzed by experts from the Smithsonian Institution, "because we thought it would be interesting to know more about him," said Jean Tomes of Roanoke Rapids, N.C., Bridger's ninth great-granddaughter.

Bridger, a staunch ally of the king and a member of the [Virginia] House of Burgesses, died in 1686 after helping build the church. Tests of his bones could reveal information such as his diet, his build and whether he suffered from diseases, Tomes said. It also may be possible to use skull fragments to reconstruct his face, of which no likeness now exists, she said.

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