CAMPUS CRYPT: Why are there human remains at Tioga Central?

Students from Kindergarten to 12th grade at one local school district have been sharing their campus with a family that's been dead for nearly 200 years.

Located just off 17C, as you turn toward the Tioga Central School District's athletic fields, you'll find a small shack-looking structure. The stones suggest a family by the name of Coburn occupies the crypt. Their deaths date back to the mid-1800s. On one of the stones, it reads: "If Christ be risen from the tomb, then shall we rise also."

12 News had viewers call in saying there were bones scattered in this area. We didn't find any bones, all we could see was a rusted bar keeping the vault closed. It turns out, the Tioga Central School District bolted it on.

"When the prior administration looked to expand with the new bus garage as well as add additional athletic fields out to the west of the district, they purchased a piece of land and on that piece of land was this burial vault," Superintendent Scot Taylor explained.

Taylor says the school has owned and has been in charge of upkeep for the crypt since 1999. The bar was put on last summer to keep the door closed.

"I think some people don't even realize it is our property that it is on," he added.

To his knowledge there have been no incidents at the vault and he says there certainly hasn't been bones laying around. Taylor says the district has no plans for the vault, other than maintenance and upkeep.

The story doesn't end there. The Tioga Historical Society says the oldest person being kept in the crypt has ties to academia.

"Basically what we uncovered about Charles Coburn is that at one time he was the principal of OFA here in Owego and also school superintendent," said John Ricklefs of the Tioga County Historical Society. "At the time of his death he was superintendent of the Pennsylvania schools which, because he lived in Nichols, must have been just over the border."

Charles Coburn married into the Van Nordstran family. His wife, several children and relatives are being kept at the crypt. The Tioga County Historical Society is currently researching if Charles Coburn had any relation to Andrew Coburn, who The Coburn Free Library in Owego is named after.

Posted: Apr 18, 2017 5:19 PM EDT
TIOGA CENTER (WBNG) --