- Associated Press - Saturday, May 16, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Close to the road on the east side of Ind. 37 in front of Worm’s Way stands a tall tree, surrounded by an orange plastic-web fence supported by wooden posts. There’s a sign: “Private property.”

The majestic maple has survived the recent onslaught of circular saws, log loaders and chippers that cleared the way for the construction of Interstate 69 north of Bloomington.

It’s still there, long stately branches reaching toward the highway to the west.

I-69 Development Partners spokesman Tony Carpenter at first said the tree was fenced off as a precaution after being designated in a protected area.

“It’s not a tree that needed to be removed, so we put up that fence so workers knew it was a protected area,” Carpenter said. “We did not want them to make a mistake and take down a tree they were not supposed to. They had to move really fast to make the deadline to get all the trees cut, and they did. We wanted to make sure they knew to not cut that tree.”

But it turns out there is more than roots beneath the towering twisted-trunk, rough-bark maple.

Tombstones, one large and three small round-edged ones more than a century old, mark four graves. The bigger one has the words “Mothers Grave” carved in the stone. Of the smaller markers, one says “Polly Carlton,” one says “Little Brothers Grave” and the other, just six inches visible above the dirt, is smooth and cannot be read.

The stones in what property records call Carlton Cemetery are obscured in shrubs spreading in a horseshoe shape beneath the tree. The 10-by-10 foot graveyard, which cannot be seen from the highway or from the access road to Worm’s Way, is one of dozens of small family cemeteries on private property scattered around Washington Township.

Trustee Barb Ooley said her township has limited funds, and she pays property owners $25 a year to maintain old cemeteries on private land. “They certainly do it out of the kindness of their hearts, not for the money,” Ooley said.

Richard Florey, director of consumer operations for Worm’s Way, said workers there always have mowed and taken care of the tiny cemetery on the company’s grounds. Several times over the years, Carlton descendants have stopped to visit the site. And under the shade of the stately tree, “many, many Worm’s Way staff have enjoyed peaceful lunches,” Florey said.

Burial records at the Monroe Count History Center cite two other small unmarked family cemeteries in the area, beyond the reach of the interstate.

Carlton Cemetery is not the only final resting ground being bypassed by I-69 construction in Section 5. A short distance to the south, atop a rise on the west side of Ind. 37, sits Griffith Cemetery.

The earliest tombstone there lists a Griffith infant who died in 1847. There are 21 known graves in the cemetery, 12 with the surname Griffith. There also are five Grays buried there. One, David B. Gray - born in 1846 and died in 1934 - was a Civil War veteran who served with Indiana’s 117th volunteer infantry.


Source: The Herald-Times, https://bit.ly/1F36fXW


Information from: The Herald Times, https://www.heraldtimesonline.com

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