Friday, November 29, 2013

A Grave in the Middle of the Road

Tractor Crossing
Deer Crossing
It isn’t unusual when traveling country back roads to come across road signs warning drivers of deer or other unseen hazards. But this sign was a first for me… It’s meaning?

Grave in the Middle of the Road
There is a grave in the middle of the road.

But the grave was not always in the flow of traffic. 

Settler's Cabin
Nancy Kerlin married William Barnett in 1808 and they settled near what would become Amity, Indiana. They raised several children before Nancy died on December 1, 1831.

Indiana Wilderness
Her family buried her on top of a small hill that overlooked Sugar Creek, one of her favorite spots. Soon others were also buried in the makeshift graveyard, and over the years a small county cemetery developed.

Local Longhorn
But then progress reared its head and decided that a road needed to be built to connect Amity with other thoroughfares in the state.

Around the turn of the century, Johnson County decided to take the road directly through the cemetery, which meant that the graves would need to be relocated.

Johnson County Courthouse
But Nancy Barnett’s grandson, Daniel G. Doty had a problem with that. He did not want his grandmother’s grave disturbed. Doty went to the county and voiced his opposition to the plan but nothing changed. So, Doty decided to take matters into his own hands.

When the county work crews arrived to begin moving the graves that morning, they discovered Doty, sitting on his grandmother’s grave – with a loaded shotgun.
Road Crew

Again, Doty told the county that his grandmother would stay where she was. If they insisted on trying to move her grave, they would have to deal with him…

Graves That Were Moved
Nancy Barnett's Grave
The county concurred and left Doty and his grandmother’s grave alone. All that remained after the other graves had been moved was Doty, sitting on Nancy Barnett’s grave – still holding his gun.

Historical Marker
In 1912, a concrete slab was placed over the grave to protect it. A historical marker was added in 1982 by Barnett’s great, great grandson Kenneth Blackwell and his son, Richard Blackwell.

Nancy's Grave ON CR 400S
If you’d like to make the journey to see “the grave in the middle of the road,” travel south out of Indianapolis on U.S. 31 about 25 miles. You’ll travel through the town of Franklin, Indiana and continue south on 31 before turning east on County Road 400S about 1.5 miles.

Divided Roadway
It’s a part of unique American history; the result of the perseverance and determination of those who call themselves  "Hoosiers." 



  1. A wonderful story which I have read about before but none the less I still loved reading yours. It does make me smile.

  2. Stood there ground. Grandma wins!! as she should,she earn it..

    1. And you have to think - She would have been proud!

  3. Thank you for the story

  4. This is fascinating! I've never seen a sign like that, and it was so cool to read your post, with all that you found out. :)

  5. Love this! Thank s for sharing!