Process of re-interring human remains unearthed by INDOT in Richmond, Ind. moving slowly
It's been a little more than a year since a road construction crew working in Richmond, Ind., discovered human remains while working on the U.S. 27 bridge replacement project. The remains were found Dec. 21, 2022, while a crew was relocating utilities as part of the construction. The utilities have since been moved elsewhere.
"Archaeologists are now completing their analysis and reporting. We will prepare to re-inter an appropriate nearby location, the remains of people whose graves were excavated," reports Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Public Relations Director Kyleigh Cramer.
The remains of six people are believed to be Quakers, also known as Friends. The area in which they were found was once a Quaker cemetery, specifically the Hicksite sect. An archaeology team was brought in to recover the remains.
Cramer says she believes no additional remains have been found. The remains, she says, are being studied by an osteologist. Reburial is planned at a cemetery in Richmond.
She says the process is expected to be completed in the next six months.
As WVXU previously reported
American Quakers split into two sects in the 1820s — Orthodox and Hicksite. In Richmond, that meant the Hicksites established a second Friends cemetery near an existing Orthodox one. It was in use from the early 1800s to the mid-1860s.
INDOT reports it did a geophysical survey and excavation on the site prior to the bridge construction to make sure there were no graves in the area. But the utility work, Cramer said, took place outside of the INDOT-investigated area.
Why weren't the graves marked?
"Quakers have traditionally, at least until 1860s or 1870s, believed that tombstones were a vanity that served only to distinguish some people from others," explained Thomas Hamm, professor of History and Quaker Scholar in Residence at Earlham College.
"Officially, marking graves was prohibited in Quaker burial grounds. That was a rule that was sometimes violated, but the indications we have are that the Hicksite Friends here in Richmond, were quite strict about it."