Archaeologists have found graves possibly dating from the early 1800s underneath what are now softball fields in a southern Indiana city park.
A team checking out the proposed site for a new convention center in Jeffersonville found human bones and the remains of wooden caskets Thursday in Colston Park.
Clark County historian Jeanne Burke told The Courier-Journal that she long suspected the park was the site of a cemetery where as many as 300 people might have been buried.
Burke said documents indicate the cemetery was established in the early 1800s, with some bodies moved there from a previous 1780s-era cemetery near the Ohio River. The cemetery was closed in 1862 and later became overgrown, with the land becoming a city park in the 1920s, she said.
Mayor Tom Galligan, whose term ends Dec. 31, said it was too soon to know what will be done with the site, although the graves could be moved to allow construction of the convention center.
Cathy Draeger-Williams, an archaeologist with the state’s Division of Historic Preservation and Archaeology, said the discoveries could illuminate “important history for the city.”
She said that state law requires a 100-foot buffer of undisturbed ground be maintained around such a site — or the remains can be moved to another location with proper oversight.
Crews will work over the next several weeks to determine the cemetery’s boundaries, said Anne Bader, principal owner of Louisville-based Corn Island Archaeology. Bader said nothing of monetary value has been found and she hopes the public will respect the burials and the history of the site and leave it alone.
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