INDEPENDENCE – A busy northern Kentucky intersection has more history than drivers and passengers may believe.
Long before the surrounding land was overgrown with bushes and trees, someone built a small cemetery. Here people decided to remember their loved ones – apparently forever.
Now a project to widen the road in northern Kentucky means moving the six unmarked graves.
Before anything is relocated, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet wants to find the family members of those buried there. To this end, from February 4, advertisements were placed in Kenton County Recorder, a weekly newspaper published by The Enquirer.
“I think there is a perception that when you get stuck in the ground it’s forever,” said George Crothers, anthropology expert at the University of Kentucky, in an interview with The Enquirer. “But often it isn’t.”
State transportation officials don’t keep track of how often this happens. Spokeswoman Nancy Wood told The Enquirer this was the first case she had seen in the Cabinet office in District 6 in 19 years, which included counties Boone, Bracken, Campbell, Carroll, Gallatin, Grant, Harrison, Kenton, Owen, Pendleton and Robertson belong.
Graves were relocated in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky. Experts told The Enquirer it was always better to know about the cemetery before, rather than during, a development project.
In 2002, workers in Frankfort, Kentucky, rediscovered a cemetery containing 240 people who had died more than 150 years ago, according to an archaeological survey in Kentucky. The workers moved the bodies because construction had already begun on the new six-story office of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, covering an area of 420,000 square feet.
In 2010, 3CDC discovered that bones were discovered during the excavation of the Washington Park Garage. They were reburied in Spring Grove Cemetery and Cincinnati Center City Development Corp. (3CDC) held a special ceremony for the deceased when the park reopened in July 2012, according to The Enquirer Archives.
The little cemetery in northern Kentucky
Nobody has claimed a relative so far.
The Kentucky Transportation Department discovered six graves during “archaeological research,” Wood told The Enquirer, although it is not clear what the research is.
The $ 11.5 million road project will improve 5 miles from KY 536 in Kenton County. According to the cabinet, the two-lane road will become four-lane with an increased mean and 8-foot wide paths on both sides.
The project is expected to be completed in autumn 2022.
“The Cabinet is committed to a respectful process of relocating unidentified and unmarked graves and will work with all family members who contact us,” Wood told The Enquirer in a statement emailed to him.
The people are buried in an overgrown area near the fork in the road of the mountain. Zion Road and Bristow Road in Independence. The Cabinet did not provide The Enquirer with any further details due to intrusion and security reasons.
Joe Hayes’ family has owned a farm east of the intersection since the 1960s. He told The Enquirer in an email that he knew about the Cabinet ad and said the cemetery could be near the White House behind the intersection that is being demolished for the project.
It is unclear whether other structures will be removed for the road project.
Kentucky bought this house at 785 Bristow Road in March for $ 172,000. The investigator could not reach the previous owners Melissa Hoffman and Cynthia Doerflein because their phone line was down.
The ad that searches for family members will run until April 1st. At the end of this story, you will find contact information if you or someone you know wants to contact the Cabinet.
Moving cemeteries is often “inevitable”.
According to Crothers, it is “fairly regular” to find small cemeteries before development projects begin. He added that it was preferable to leave her alone, but acknowledged that it was often “inevitable” to move her.
“The downside is that we have to recover information from the site before it is destroyed,” said Crothers. Because of this, a big part of his job is to keep records to inform developers and the state of potential cemeteries before projects begin.
Anthropologists can tell if someone has had a tough job when their bones have areas of rough texture left by their muscles, Carothers said. The larger the muscle, the larger the textured area. Researchers also get to know the individual through what is buried with them, such as buttons and belts.
Poul Lemasters, General Counsel of the International Cemetery, Cremation & Funeral Association, said The Enquirer’s cemeteries often have to be relocated for the “good” of a region.
Lemasters, who works in Cincinnati, said it was more common to move small cemeteries because it was an expensive process.
“Maybe we’ll see more of this as we develop our more rural land,” he said.
Do you have any information
If you or someone you know is related to someone buried in the cemetery, call Amy Ishmael, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s right of way specialist at 606-291-9641.
Julia is the Northern Kentucky government reporter on the Report For America program. The investigator needs local donors to fund her grant-funded position. If you would like to support Julia’s work, you can donate to her position as Report For America on this website or email your editor, Carl Weiser, at [email protected] to find out how you can fund their work.
Do you know something that she should know? Send her a message at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @JFair_Reports.
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