CHARLESTOWN — Work to relocate a Depression-era cemetery at River Ridge Commerce Center property is underway, and the reinterment of the graves to another cemetery is expected to take place within the next month, according to River Ridge Executive Director Jerry Acy.
In May, River Ridge announced plans to relocate a cemetery located on the property of the industrial park. The half-acre plot, on the site of the former Indiana Ammunition Plant, was the resting place for residents of Clark County’s “Poor Farm” who died from 1923 to 1939.
The Poor Farm was a facility off of Highway 62 in Charlestown that housed impoverished residents without a strong family network.
Although 27 graves were originally identified, six additional graves were found and excavated during the project, resulting in the River Ridge Development Authority Board of Directors approving a contract change order for $34,055 in additional costs at its Monday meeting.
The original contract with James Construction Company for the relocation of the 27 graves was $148,842, but the identification of the additional graves led to an increased cost of $28,530. Excavation of areas not included in the original scope of the project was added to make sure no graves were overlooked, resulting in another additional cost of $5,525.
The Poor Farm cemetery didn’t include any gravestones, but a piece of paper at the cemetery listed the name of 27 people buried there, Acy said. The identification process for others that were buried in the cemetery is ongoing as consultants study Poor Farm records.
Although there was public notification of the remains found at the cemetery, no next-of-kin have come forward or been identified yet, Acy said.
“There’s kind of a technical process, and we use outside consultants to make sure identification is being done appropriately,” he said.
The remains will be reinterred at the nearby Caldwell Cemetery, on the River Ridge property near Charlestown State Park. The work is being completed by James Construction and subcontractor Corn Island Archeology.
On Tuesday, Corn Island received clearance from the Indiana Department of Natural Resources Division of Historic Preservation & Archaeology for the reinterment at Caldwell Cemetery, Acy said.
“It’s a wooded area that’s shaded and never to be disturbed,” he said. “It’s a very appropriate, serene location.”
No commercial development projects are planned for the site, Acy said.