Archaeologists Find 7 Forgotten Bodies Under Road

| by Zara Zhi
Researchers dig through grave siteResearchers dig through grave site

Archaeologists made an astounding, albeit macabre, discovery buried deep in Johnson County, Indiana. The researchers discovered the ancient remains of a woman and six other people while digging in the middle of an Amity road.

The scientists are still trying to piece together the identities of the six other corpses and learn more about their origins.

“We have evidence of two females, one male and the rest children,” said Dr. Christopher Schmidt of the University of Indianapolis, WISH reports.

Schmidt presented the discovery during a Johnson County Commissioners meeting on June 13, but says it’s possible more remains could be found. During the meeting, city commissioners voted in favor of having DNA analyses done on the remains.

“I think the surprise was how many times that area had been disturbed and how many times that area had been impacted. That definitely made digging a little more challenging,” he said.

A woman named Nancy Kerlin Barnett was buried alongside others near the area in 1831. The other people’s remains were allegedly moved during the early 1900s when the county built a road in that vicinity.

According to WISH, Barnett’s grandson guarded her grave with a shotgun to prevent city officials from moving it. Instead, the county road was built around her grave. By today’s standards, the road doesn’t meet modern specifications and is considered to be unsafe.

County officials excavated the burial site in May to widen the road and preserve the corpses. But a plethora of hair-raising questions were asked after discovering seven sets of bones instead of just one.  

“As it stands right now, it looks at least in the immediate area, by where we feel like where the Nancy Kerlin Barnett grave was, nothing was removed,” said Schmidt.

Some are asking if the other bodies were ever moved in the first place.

“I feel like if we didn’t follow that all the way through, then we’ve really done an injustice to not only the family, but to the grave site,” said Johnson County Commissioner Brian Baird.

The researchers hope to learn if the corpses belong to the Barnett family, as well as how things like diet, age and daily life affected people back then.

“It has a unique opportunity to perhaps link together living people with ancient people,” said Schmidt.

Schmidt believes that the site had been excavated and the remains reburied in the past and that at least one set of remains had been scattered.

All the remains will be placed in caskets and reburied in the same place.

“My hope is that going forward it will be viewed as a Barnett-family cemetery in the middle of a street,” Schmidt told IndyStar. “It really is a family plot.”

Sources: WISH, IndyStar / Photo credit: Kelly Wilkinson/IndyStar

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