Historical Grave of Pioneer Woman Contains Remains of at Least 7

Exhumation of the historical grave of Nancy Kerlin Barnett in the middle of an Indiana highway revealed the remains of at least seven other unknown burials.
Nancy Barnett's grave in the middle of the road
The grave of Nancy Kerlin Barnett in the middle of Indiana’s County Road 400.

The Indianapolis Star reports an unexpected discovery at the site of Indiana’s historical Grave in the Middle of the Road – the remains of at least seven other unidentified burials.

Nancy Kerlin Barnett (whose husband William, it’s worth noting, was the great-great-grandson of Pocahontas and John Rolfe) died in 1831. She was buried in one of her favorite places, on a grassy hill overlooking nearby Sugar Creek. As time went by, others were buried around her and a small cemetery formed. When the county decided to put a highway through the cemetery in 1905, workers arrived to find Barnett’s grandson Daniel G. Doty protecting the grave with a shotgun. The other graves were relocated, but Barnett’s was allowed to remain while the two-lane road was built around it.

Last month University of Indianapolis archaeologist Christopher W. Schmidt and his team of students were brought in to exhume the grave so the road could be widened. Despite the divided highway sign depicting two lanes of traffic moving around a cemetery, the grave has seen its fair share of accidents. The excavation has been delayed, however, by the discovery of at least seven sets of unidentified remains, two women, a man, and four children who apparently missed the relocation.

Recent: Remains of girl buried 145 years ago found under San Francisco home

Indiana road divided by a grave

Before the bones are reburied, DNA tests will be conducted and compared with Barnett’s living descendants. When the road is complete, the remains will be returned to the hill where they belong.

Hat tip to Week in Weird for digging this story up.

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