Morgan ‘douses’ to find unmarked graves

Staff Writer

Emory Morgan, who lives on Adams Road outside of Aberdeen, has been “dowsing” with metal rods for about 15 to 18 years. He is retired from the F.B.I., where he worked in fingerprinting and computers.

A man who lived across the street from him in Fairfax County, Virginia, was a zoning inspector. The man was hunting for an abandoned septic field. A plumber told the zoning inspector how to find the field with a metal rod. Morgan was fascinated with the process and his neighbor taught him how to use the rod to discover where different things were buried.

Morgan, who is a member of the Monroe County Historical Society, has used the process called “dowsing” to help find unmarked graves in several local cemeteries, as well as other cemeteries in Mississippi and other states. He has been to Gettysburg eight times.

He has assisted in finding where Confederate soldiers who were killed in the Chunky River train accident were buried. The train loaded with troops was going from Meridian to Vicksburg. There had been a lot of rain and the engineer had been getting out all along the way checking to see if everything was alright. Someone had already gone ahead to Chunky River and said it was fine. When the train went on the trestle, it went out from under the train. The date was February 1863 around 2 to 3 a.m. A company of Choctaw Indians were nearby and started searching for bodies. The dead were buried in trenches on the bank of the river. Morgan said approximately 30 were in each trench. He said they found a total of 97 bodies. All of the bodies were of skinny men except for one heavy-set man. The railroad had confirmed there was one heavy man on the train.

Using rods at the Old Aberdeen Cemetery, Morgan found where 6,000 Civil War soldiers were buried with no markers.

Able to determine details
Morgan is able to tell if a male or female is buried in the unmarked grave by the way the rod moves. The heads of the females were usually larger because of their hair. The rod will move down from the head indicating the neck area, move out for the shoulders and if a female, the hips are usually wider than a male’s. The rod goes together at the end of the grave indicating the location of the feet.

In addition to the gender of the body in the grave, Morgan can also tell the age. He knows if it is a small child or a young teenage child. He can also tell if the person was heavy or slim.

If the graves are dug into, nothing will be found except by doing a chemical analysis.

Morgan said some of his work has been backed up by
ground scanning radar. “Dowsing” works on static electricity.

“I do better with this than using a metal detector,” Morgan said. “All my rods are, are coat hangers. Copper wire makes the best rods.”

Word of Morgan’s ability to find unmarked graves has traveled far and wide by word of mouth.

He can be reached at

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