Saturday, September 7, 2013

Forgotten Graveyard under a Baseball Field, Jeffersonville, Indiana

In the midst of construction work for a new pedestrian bridge in Jeffersonville Indiana, a Civil War Cemetery was rediscovered.  While its existence wasn't a mystery, its exact location was.  As it turns out, children had been playing baseball on top of a graveyard for the better part of a century.

Baseball field, seen from afar.  Home plate is to the right.
The baseball field near the river in Jeffersonville, Indiana, has long been a local fixture.  Located on the eastern edge of Colston Park, it was until recently very well maintained.  Not until the conversion of the nearby Big Four Bridge into a pedestrian walkway was it's future in doubt.

The baseball field, obviously, is in the top of this shot.  Its death sentence, the Big Four Pedestrian Bridge, is in the bottom right. Map from Bing.
While not apparent in the above photo, a ramp has been constructed from the dead end on the bridge, taking two blocks to reach the ground.  This ramp, and the accompanying welcome center were supposed to displace the ball field.  When local historians heard about this, they sprung into action.  They knew about something that had apparently been forgotten....

Another shot of the torn up field, bases removed, dirt piled nearby.
Long forgotten by most in the area was that fact that a Civil War Hospital had been nearby.  Given the casualty rates amongst participants in the war, it should be no surprise the any military hospital required a cemetery.  The location of this cemetery?  Well......

Concession stand and announcers booth, now abandoned.
A (reasonable) fuss was made by some people, and excavations were ordered of the location.  As expected, graves were found.  This park, built in 1927, was built on a graveyard.

Even parks built on graveyards have rules.  Please recycle...
The nearby park bench was covered in pennies.  I don't know why.
A marker on the edge of the park notes the history of the area.  It seems rather strange that the history had been overlooked. 
The original grave markers had been made of wood, by 1927, the had all rotted away.  Local authorities decided that a park was the only way to commemorate the dead.  This isn't unheard of, another graveyard on 9th Street in Louisville was similarly converted after the tornado of 1890.

The lonely marker was dressed up recently.  Note the flags, benches, and trash can.  The future of the area is now unclear.
The remains of pilings for the ramp that lead to the Big Four.  The replacement ramp is visible, curving to the left in this photo.

It isn't clear what will be done with the land now.  It could of course be put back into usable shape, returning to its old use as a ball field.  It seems unlikely that a building will be placed on the site.  Only time will tell.

Decaying Cardinal sign mounted on the fence surrounding the field.

Back on the concession stand, restrooms visible.

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  1. I like the park rules about "no diggin by us or pets" guess they don't want bones being dug up ;)

    1. They apparently don't care about rules anymore. The sign was torn down, along with the scoreboard. Perhaps this will no longer be a ball field?

  2. First let me say that you are an excellent researcher and chronicler.

    This graveyard in question has been debated at great length on our local forum.
    There is no supporting evidence for any Civil War graves although remains have been found there recently. There are a lot of local legends here that just aren't true.
    The future of the park is still uncertain.

    1. That's a good discussion you linked to. There does seem to be a lot of conflicting ideas as to what is at the site, and whether there are or were soldier graves located there at all. Unless the remains discovered during the excavation have clear evidence of a military origin (spurs, bullets, buttons, etc) it would be hard to state a definitive conclusion.

      If there are no war dead there, I wonder why they believed otherwise in 1927. It would've been "living" memory at the time, and surely locals would've been aware of happens at the site. There would still be people around who had seen the bodies dug up, or known that the hospital cemetery was at an entirely different location altogether. This isn't necessarily evidence that soldiers are there, but it makes one wonder what exactly they based their opinions on.

      Again, thank you for the link and your interest.