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Wright-Whitesell-Gentry Cemetery Excavation and Relocation

Nancy Ross Stallings and Stephen Nawrocki

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) recently authorized, funded, and coordinated the excavation and relocation, in its entirety, of the Wright-Whitesell-Gentry Cemetery (12Ma944).  This rural mid-late nineteenth century extended family cemetery had been located in Castleton, Indiana, just north of the Indianapolis metropolitan area. This project represents collaboration among INDOT archaeologists, The Corradino Group, AMEC Earth & Environmental, and the University of Indianapolis Archeology and Forensics Laboratory, with contributions by the Indiana State Museum and the Purdue University Wood Research Laboratory.

This presentation will discuss the results of the field investigations, analysis of gravestones, funerary items and textiles, osteological and taphonomic analysis, and mitochondrial DNA analysis.  The excavation and relocation of the Wright-Whitesell-Gentry Cemetery involved close cooperation with family descendants, coordination with public agencies and historic preservation groups, and public outreach. Family members were included in the planning process and collaborated in the research.

The excavation occurred within a few yards of the busiest highway intersection in Indiana, attracting heavy media attention. Archaeologists conducted excavation of the cemetery under constant public surveillance and media scrutiny, leading to several innovative approaches to public archaeology.

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4 Responses to Nationwide Cemetery Preservation Summit Abstracts and Video

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  2. Robert Wrigley says:

    My wife’s gr-gr-grandfather is a Union soldier buried there. When we visited this grave site last October we were quite dismayed at the condition and damage done to the stones by lawn mowers running over and chipping it. At the time we did not know the full history of the markers being altered in the 1930s. We would fully support the efforts to restore them.
    Would it be possible for a private citizen to be able to contribute to the restoration of their family’s marker or replacement? Perhaps a volunteer effort of those with relatives there could help accomplish some of this initiative to restore to their original condition.

    • Jason Church says:

      Dear Robert,
      The best person to talk with will be Betsy Dinger Elizabeth_Dinger@nps.gov who is a historian for Petersburg National Battlefield and Cemetery.

    • Bryan Cheeseboro says:

      Mr. Wrigley,
      I don’t know if you’ll get this message but I would be very interested to know which of the men buried at Battleground Cemetery is your wife’s gr-gr-grandfather. I am a historian and I have spent the last several years researcing the battle of Fort Stevens and Battleground National Cemetery. Does your wife have a photograph of her ancestor? That would be a goldmine. I have never seen any picture of any of the men killed at the battle.

      If you can be of help to me, my e-mail address is bryanac625@yahoo.com. Thank you.

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