Family reveals they knew about unmarked graves at Ford battery plant site

Katie Newton, the public relations specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Public Affairs Office, said “nineteen unmarked burials we
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 6:06 PM EDT
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HARDIN COUNTY, Ky. (WAVE) - Family who used to own the land that is now slated to become the new Ford battery plant said they knew about unmarked graves on the property.

“Nineteen unmarked burials were identified as a result of the additional archaeological field work completed in March 2022,” Katie Newton, a public relations specialist for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Louisville District Public Affairs Office, told WAVE News in a statement on May 9. A prior grave relocation took place in 2003 at the site penned for the Blue Oval SK Battery Park, according to Newton, but the Corps was not involved.

Delbert Best said his grandfather bought the property in 1862.

“I went back there as a kid and played marbles back there,” Best said. “So I knew they was back there, yeah.”

Many of the graves in the area are unidentified. Best said some of them could be his family or the people who lived on the land before them.

“Maybe everybody who lived on this farm before him used the same cemetery,” Best said.

Those graves will be moved to the new family cemetery in Best’s backyard. He said the Army Corps of Engineers has kept him in the loop ever since the graves were discovered, and archaeologists have been respectful throughout the process.

“Yeah, I welcome it,” he said with a smile. “Just move ‘em up here. I’m just like, ‘get ‘em up here and get it over with,’ you know? I’ll be glad of it!”

The Army Corps of Engineers said the graves have not been exhumed yet, but Best believes the process will happen in about a week.

To move the unmarked graveyard, the Corps of Engineers is working with the Kentucky Heritage Council and the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office, as well as the assumed family members. According to Newton, the cemetery must be relocated to comply with Kentucky law.

The relocation of the burial site will not affect the Corps’ decision on the DA Permit for the Ford battery plant, according to Newton.

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