The Grave in the Middle of the Road
Only in Indiana would you find a grave site in the middle of a county road. Yes, you read that right. In Johnson County, you can find the unusual burial grounds for Nancy Kerlin Barnett. Who was this person? She was the wife of William Barnett, the great great great grandson of Pocahontas and John Rolfe. I was quite obsessed with Pocahontas as a child, so knowing this fact intrigued me to find out more.
So why did I photograph this subject? Because of the historical meaning.
In 1808, Nancy married William at the age of 14. They lived near present-day Amity, which is a small community south of Franklin. When she died in 1831 at the age of 39, her family decided to bury her at one of her favorite places. This was located on a hill that overlooked Sugar Creek. After her burial, a small cemetery was created where others were buried.
Her husband, William drowned in the Ohio River in 1854, only a few days before his 68th birthday.
Over the years, a foot path was created through the small cemetery. When plans were made to create the foot path into a county road and grave sites were moved, but Nancy’s family refused to move her grave. Daniel Doty, Nancy’s grandson, protected the grave by guarding it with his gun. Instead of moving the grave, the county agreed to build the road around it. Then a concrete slab was placed over the grave to protect the marker.
Each end of the grave has a divided highway sign with a cross in the center, which indicates a cemetery. Could there be another one like it in the country?
People have even hit the marker with their vehicles, since the grave is in the road. Now wouldn’t it be interesting, driving into a grave that is in the middle of the road. How many people can say they have done that?