EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT)– The Evansville Water and Sewer Utility made a discovery near the intersection of 4th and Vine streets last month.
“This intersection is well known in the city and we are aware that there are some possible grave sites,” says Matt Montgomery, the EWSU Project Manager.
Crews were digging 16 feet underground in the area in late February to install a storm sewer and noticed something unusual.
“We found what we thought were historical artifacts. We found some stones that looked unusual for this area, so we stopped,” Montgomery says.
The water department says they did research and knew there could be gravesites. Although they thought they would not find anything, they had a plan.
They sent pictures to the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. Evansville Water and Sewer Utility told their contractor to keep an eye out for more.
“We uncovered what appeared to be a gravesite,” Montgomery says.
Experts say the bones date back to the 1800’s.
“You know at that point in time, there was not a lot downtown, so they did have cemeteries down in that area,” says Dr. Michael Strezewski, an Associate Professor of Archeology at the University of Southern Indiana.
Dr. Strezewski says it will be hard to identify the bones.
“The condition of the bones depends on the soil. If you have acidic soil, the bones could be in bad condition,” he says. “There are a lot of unmarked graves… there are a lot of cemeteries out there that we don’t know where all the burials are located,” says Dr. Strezewski.
“Certainly Evansville has a rich history and we certainly want to be respectful of that history. It is something to think about and investigate fully. We plan to follow the codes. There are codes to follow to give this the respect that it deserves,” says Montgomery.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources is investigating to see if there are other remains in the area. In the meantime, the water department is asking the public to stay out of the construction site.