Ancient remains of woman, 6 others found buried in middle of road

AMITY, IN (WISH) — A surprising discovery was made in Johnson County by archaeologists. They were digging for the remains of a woman buried in the middle of an Amity road.

Archaeologists not only found the ancient remains of a woman, they also found six other people, they believe.

They don’t know exactly who the bones belong to, but they’ve already started examining them and piecing together clues.

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

Dr. Schmidt says it’s possible, there could be more remains. He presented his findings during a Johnson County Commissioners meeting Monday afternoon.

“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.

Nancy Kerlin Barnett was buried in 1831, alongside others buried near her. Those other were reportedly moved when, in the early 1900s, the county built a road in that area.

The story is, that Barnett’s grandson guarded her grave with a shotgun to prevent anyone from moving it. Officials built, what is now County Road 400 around her grave.

The road doesn’t meet today’s standards and is considered unsafe.

Last month, officials excavated the grave site, in order to widen the road, and preserve the remains. The discovery of seven sets of bones raises questions as to whether or not the others were ever really moved.

“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 Dr. Schmidt.

During Monday’s meeting, county commissioners voted to approve DNA analysis on the remains.

“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.

They hope to learn if the remains belong to the Barnett family, and things like diet, age and daily life, and also maybe a little bit about ourselves.

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

At least one set of remains had been scattered, according to Dr. Schmidt.

He believes the grave had been exhumed and reburied in the past. All of the remains will be put in caskets, and then reburied at the same location.

The project was initially expected to wrap within a few weeks, but with the discovery, it could be several more weeks before it is completed.

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