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Effort underway to preserve grave in road

Posted at 10:04 PM, May 11, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-11 22:48:35-04

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. -- A big effort is underway to preserve an unusual part of Indiana's history.

A pioneer grave in the middle of the road in Johnson County is being temporarily removed and rededicated to honor its occupant.

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The grave is the final resting place of Nancy Kerlin Barnett, who moved to Indiana with her husband in 1821.

"She passed away in 1831 and, according to legend, this was one of her favorite sites in the county and she requested to be buried here. So she was."

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But in the early 1900s, a bridge and road were built in the area. Barnett's family insisted the grave remain untouched, so they simply built the road around her.

Now, the road is closed due to safety reasons. The county will spend $10,000 to remove Barnett's grave temporarily.

University of Indianapolis Archaeology Professor Dr. Chris Schmidt and his graduate students are performing the painstaking removal process.

"They're going to lower the mound," Schmidt said. "It will be flat and not a road hazard anymore. She'll be protected below grade, but there will still be a marker and a way to recognize the grave."

Over the years, the 185-year-old grave has been the site of numerous collisions with cars and farm equipment. Within a month, Barnett will once again rest in peace, surrounded by a new protective barrier.