- Associated Press - Saturday, March 15, 2014

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (AP) - Archaeologists digging next to the Kennedy Bridge in downtown Jeffersonville uncovered two portions of limestone foundations that date to the late 1700s or early 1800s, including one on a lot where former Indiana Territory Gov. Thomas Posey, who also was Kentucky’s third lieutenant governor, once lived.

But the archaeology project team re-buried the historical foundation portions under what will be part of the downtown crossing of the Ohio River Bridges Project - to the dismay of Clark County Museum director Jeanne Burke.

Burke was hoping to have gotten a stone or two for the museum, which she said would have been a chance to bring Posey’s story from history books to real life.

“If you have something tangible, then you have stories and an exhibit,” Burke told The Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky., (http://cjky.it/1eBbNd0 ).

Still, Burke is pleased that other artifacts found as part of the bridge work - including pieces of undecorated and slipped creamware pottery, blue transfer-printed pearlware fragments, numerous pottery pieces showing early decorative motifs and other fragments - may later find their way to her museum.

State law requires that such artifacts be initially taken to the Indiana State Museum, where archaeology workers will analyze them, identify their significance and relate them to historical eras, according to officials with the state and the bridge consultants.

Mitch Zoll, director of the state historic preservation office, said that once the state’s final reports are done, the state Department of Transportation could negotiate with the local museum to acquire the items.

“I think it’s a viable alternative,” said Zoll, who explained that the limestone foundations were reburied in place because they are too heavy to dig up and move.

The archaeological work is part of the efforts by bridges project officials to comply with federal historic preservation guidelines set forth under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act.

Uncovering history The Indiana Department of Transportation recently released the archaeology reports for both the west and east sides of Fort Street in Jeffersonville - between Riverside Drive and the floodwall - following open-records requests from The Courier-Journal.

The reports were done by McCullough Archaeological Services, of Indianapolis at the request of Walsh Construction, which is building the downtown crossing of the Ohio River Bridges Project.

Of the foundations, one report said: “Governor Posey’s mansion once stood on this lot and, given its large size and the early-nineteenth-century materials recovered, this foundation may be associated with that structure.”

Other early 19th century ceramics and hand-blown glass were found near one section of foundation, which extended westward to a curb and parking lot under the existing Interstate 65 bridge.

Cisterns, privies and trash pits on the sites also yielded artifacts from the last three centuries, including a French gunflint, another gunflint made of Wyandotte chert, mortar fragments, a cast iron kettle leg and more pottery pieces.

McCullough teams completed the digs late last year. The interim reports filed last month show photos and diagrams of exact locations where the items were found, part of the federally required mitigation of historical resources for bridges project.

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