Tim Fulton  00:08

Welcome to the confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. We are a weekly Columbus centric podcast focusing on the civics, lifestyle, entertainment, and people of our city. I’m your host Tim Fulton. This week, there is often a complex interplay between preservation and progress a year into his exploration. Columbus underground reporter Jesse Boothbay continues to sift through the story of how the removal of remains from what was once the North Market parking lot unfolded. From the contentious removal of centuries old graves to the forensic analysis of unearthed remains. Today’s episode navigates the ethical, legal, and emotional complexities surrounding the issue. In the quest to honor the past while embracing the future, we examine what lies beneath the surface of urban development, and confront the ghosts of history that still shape our city today. You can get more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence cast.com. You enjoy the interview. Sitting down here with Jesse with a Columbus underground freelance journalist Jessie, how are you? I’m great, good. Last time we talked, we talked about the series of articles that you had done on the North Market graveyard, the graveyard that was discovered in basically the parking lot of the North Market just north of downtown Columbus just south of the short north. There’s been some developments since then, basically wanted to check in. I do also at the beginning of this podcast, kind of want to give you a lot of credit for inspiring me. And I think our listeners a little bit to think about Columbus in a slightly different way to think of it as a place that maybe we haven’t taken as much ownership over as we maybe should. So I wanted to give you that credit there. Well, thank you. Yeah, absolutely. Do you feel the same way about this story? I think as you are running it down, like yeah, let’s

Jesse Bethea  02:20

be clear. I definitely think the same way. Okay. And I let me put it like this, okay. I see people sort of cheerleading Columbus, and I see people degrade in Columbus, you know, and sort of back and forth all the time. And the place where they never seem to meet is the idea that Columbus has any sort of history, the people that degrade Columbus are sort of like we have no culture, we have no history we have, we didn’t come from anywhere. It’s, you know, this place is just sort of in, in a sort of subtler way on the side of people cheerleading, and always wanting the newest thing, they sort of do that without thinking, what are we losing? Re chase after the newest thing?

Tim Fulton  03:01

Well, and maybe I would frame their cheerleading sort of in the we have this great opportunity to build right? And it’s like, yeah, that’s that there’s nothing wrong with that. But building upon what, right, which I think metaphorically, this story, is that right?

Jesse Bethea  03:17

One great example of that, and this is far afield. Yeah. So feel free to cut it out. But there’s the there’s the plaque at Coleman’s point, okay, on the side of river, and it has a picture of Michael Coleman, and it has his famous quote, that the city that stays the same gets left behind. And it’s beautiful. It’s a great sentiment, but every time I think about it, or every time I walked by it, I’m like, I wonder if that’s gonna get torn down one day to build something else. Okay, you know, and that would be, you know, in a way that that sort of, would be following his mantra is edict right. But it also, you know, he too, is a part of Columbus history, and how would we who remember that part of Columbus history feel if it was destroyed? Right. And in the same way, I think that erasing the north, the North graveyard, yeah. Which it is what’s happening. I mean, it’s already been mostly erased, paved over to start writing, so it’s not. And that’s another thing. It’s not as if this development is erasing it. It’s already been erased. Right?

Tim Fulton  04:21

So let’s step back a little bit. For those that have not, didn’t hear the first five years. I invite you to do it. But what’s the high level story here?

Jesse Bethea  04:32

Okay. This is a speed run, okay. In the early 1800s, right, as Columbus was founded, a plot of land was picked to be the city cemetery. Every city needs one you know, people are always dying. Yes. So that’s where they started burying people and they kept bearing people there until about the Civil War. And

Tim Fulton  04:51

to be clear, this is the location right behind where the North Market currently sits. Yes, got it. Just

Jesse Bethea  04:56

to give people some dimensions Yeah, the like the land below spruce above Convention Center Drive in between Park Street and High Street. Okay, so it was right on High Street, it was this sort of trapezoidal shape. And it’s quite large.

Tim Fulton  05:12

There’s a reason why char bar in the basement is so creepy. Exactly. Yeah.

Jesse Bethea  05:18

That was right. Perfectly there. Yeah. So about 1864, it was too full. It was decrepid. tombstones were falling down. And so the city decided, we’re not allowing people to be buried there anymore. Few years after that, they said, This is a really good piece of land. Yep. Right. We’re gonna start, we’re gonna start selling off pieces of this to developers that want to build, you know, railroads, they want to build tavern saloons. When

Tim Fulton  05:46

was it your first article named? Come get your dad? Yes, yes.

Jesse Bethea  05:50

And so as part of this effort, they were like, obviously, we’re not going to build these buildings on top of people, if you have it. And they would put articles in the newspapers that would say, if you have anyone buried in the north graveyard, please come get your debt. Yes. Now, obviously, what that depended on was that people saw that in the newspaper, right? Or could still could could read in the 70s. Right? And that they still lived here. And if none of those things were true, then you had a bunch of people still buried under fourth graveyard that nobody knew they were there. And so they dug up all the people, they could all the people they could find, and said, Well, that’s it. And so then the word was the graveyards cleared, and we can build whatever we want.

Tim Fulton  06:41

Do you believe at that time? And forgive me? I don’t remember this. Do you believe at that time that they thought there’s no more bodies here?

Jesse Bethea  06:50

I think that from then on. For the next 150 years, there was a lot of wishful thinking. Okay. I think that, you know, there are all of these stories from between that time and now saying, oh, yeah, we were digging a telegraph line or a telephone line. And we found a skull or, you know, we were building this and we found some bones. But I think there was always the overarching wishful thinking was, well, we got most of it, there’s going to be a few. We got

Tim Fulton  07:20

these were one offs, these, this was not a thing, because there was

Jesse Bethea  07:23

no real way to know until you did a comprehensive archeological excavation. Right, which is what, which is what we do.

Tim Fulton  07:32

And we did that kind of like, that wasn’t the point of it. Right? The point of it was, we’re gonna put this new tower behind the North Market, which as we speak here on Leap Day, 2024, they’re laying the foundation like they’re done. Digging. Yeah. So fast forward, at least a little bit in terms of your narrative. There was some obfuscating, at that time when we talked about like, well, who’s in charge of this and who’s, frankly, whose responsibility is this? There were tents that were covering up the site of remains on in the parking lot. It did indeed delay the construction of the North Market tower. But I think you found some additional things as well. Like, what? Because I think originally, the final resting place was meant to be Greenlawn cemetery. That’s still true. It is okay. But,

Jesse Bethea  08:31

and this is kind of where the wishful thinking of it all felt, you know, kind of collapsed. Okay, is Tara rose Gaisano, who’s one of the scientists working for Alana and Associates, she was one of the people responsible for excavating these. Okay. These remains, she actually said to city council, I think in July of last year, she said something to the effect of, we thought we were gonna discover, you know, 200 mostly empty graves. And we discovered many multiples more. So hundreds of more

Tim Fulton  09:03

sorry, let’s dangling modifier there, hundreds of more graves but empty.

Jesse Bethea  09:11

It’s been very hard for me to discern that. I’ve heard. Sorry.

Tim Fulton  09:16

I’m gonna ask for another clarifying. No, that’s fine. There are a lot of grapes. There are a lot of grapes more grapes than anyone thought more. Yes, there remain.

Jesse Bethea  09:26

But remains were found. Yes. And more remains than anyone thought would still be there.

Tim Fulton  09:31

And do we have a concept of how many people maybe because you showed me a map even at one point that was like, Well, that looks like a grave but see how it’s constructed. That means that that’s a site of graves, plural.

Jesse Bethea  09:49

And some of the graves are on top of each other. Right? Exactly. Well, there’s there’s crosscutting graves as well. Okay. So it is very hard to pin down a specific number. Okay. Last time I talked to Tara rose, she she sort of said, you know, if I tell you a number now, it could be different tomorrow, okay? It’s, they’re taking a jumble of bones more or less, and they’re sorting out into individual people that those bones belong to, because there’s not going to be three femurs. Right. Okay. And that process takes time. It could take years. Okay, so I’ve heard estimates in the high nine hundreds. But I’m not it Sorry. It’s very fluid of individuals, remains Yes, of individual people, the remains or even, you know, and so, sorry.

Tim Fulton  10:36

Sorry, that’s a bit of a that’s a lot to take in. But translating that back maybe a little bit, it’s also entirely possible. Hey, you came and got your the remains for your family. And that excavation may not have been as thorough and proper, as I think everyone would hope right would happen. I would

Jesse Bethea  11:00

say that’s extremely likely, okay. In many cases, and so, I think it’s when all is said and done, and all the remains are rebury to Greenlawn. Very good chance there’ll be people buried in multiple different spots got at Greenlawn. Okay, because of what you just described that they did such a slapdash job in the 1800s, because they didn’t have well, there

Tim Fulton  11:23

may even be people in Greenlawn that are in Greenlawn, that another quote unquote, part of them is now about to be in that’s exactly yeah. Okay. Okay,

Jesse Bethea  11:35

so So let’s go ahead. Well, just to answer your original question, because yeah, they will be buried to Greenlawn. But there was a specific section in Greenlawn, that was established in the 1800s. For people who are being moved out of North graveyards, okay, they found sorry,

Tim Fulton  11:50

this conversation is going to be like this. And that’s okay. Let’s say remains, we’re not gathered by family or next of kin, however, you want to refer to them through the city, it was believed that there was an attempt to migrate those bodies, even if they were unclaimed. Yes. Okay. But

Jesse Bethea  12:09

it depended entirely on because a lot of the gravestones were missing at that time. Or not, it was not well taken care of or documented. Apparently, it was, yeah. It depended entirely on sort of institutional memory of the people who have the caretakers at the graveyard to remember where people were buried. Okay.

Tim Fulton  12:31

So back to Greenland, sorry, there was a plot,

Jesse Bethea  12:34

there was a plot specifically designated. And that is where, back in the early 2000s, they did an excavation along Spruce Street, and that’s where those remains were buried. Okay. That’s sort of the section for people who were buried in fourth grade, fourth graveyard. They found in this last round of excavations in 2023, they found too many bones. Okay, and so they’ve actually chosen a new plot at Greenlawn. That will be where these folks go. Okay. And so that’s going to, I don’t know where the plans sit. Now. Last time, I talked to Randy Rogers, who is in charge of the Greenlawn Cemetery Association, okay. He was saying they were going to pick they were going to build a new memorial there for you know, for these people, because obviously, they’re not going to be able, we’re not going to be able to identify most of them. Right? It’s at least it’s extremely unlikely. Yeah.

Tim Fulton  13:31

And we there’s so what, talk to me about how because i It’s fascinating to me that you’re so ingrained in this one very feel specific, but speaks to so many different things. Sometimes,

Jesse Bethea  13:44

and this is why I’m depending on you, because I get I’m, I’m in the weeds on this. So yeah, well,

Tim Fulton  13:50

yes. I, because that’s why I’m stopping you. Because you are so deep in a story like this, that it’s like, oh, yeah, I got to tell you about this part of it. Right. Like, it’s like telling somebody like, you know, Why’d that marriage end? Or why did you break up? It’s like, well, we have a fight about this. That seems pretty dumb. Yeah. But if you consider the context,

Jesse Bethea  14:13

sometimes it’s like, right, this is a dream I had last night. Yes, it’s and

Tim Fulton  14:16

there’s a lot to it. So, when remains are discovered a collection of remains, which I would hope is a fairly rare occurrence. There is a proper way to enter them, bury them, you don’t just put them all into one thing, if you can avoid it, you have to make a reasonable effort to sort of separate them as a as a remains Yes, take what have you learned about that, like how are they handling that? So?

Jesse Bethea  14:52

what I was told by Mary Ellen O’Shaughnessy, who is sort of taken on the funerary aspects of All this, okay, her intention is to once they have done all the analysis, and again, this is going to be a years long process to do the the osteological analysis of

Tim Fulton  15:10

do means bones, right?

Jesse Bethea  15:13

And have them separated into individuals and saying like, these are all the bones that we can find of this individual, right. Some of that’s going to be easier, because a lot of them were articulated they were fully sort of, okay, skeletons. So those are going to be easier to to separate and right individuals, once they’re separated out, they’re each going to be put into their own individual boxes, not a full casket. Box. Yeah, those boxes are going to fit into human sized caskets, okay. And then they’re going to be buried in a vault. Okay, and then the vault is going to be under the ground in Greenlawn. Okay, so it’s sort of like, it’s a bit of a Tetris situation, they’re going to be putting boxes within boxes,

Tim Fulton  15:56

okay. But respectfully stored is really a way to sort of think about it,

Jesse Bethea  16:02

right. And they’re going to be separated. And one of the reasons is, it’s,

Tim Fulton  16:06

it brings I don’t, I don’t, I have all due respect for human remains, right. But it sounds a little bit like almost a filing system of like, hey, we know that this is this. And so we’re gonna put it in this enclosed thing, which may then be, you know, and then the next one we discovered is right next to it, and it’s got its number or catalog associated reference to it.

Jesse Bethea  16:31

It definitely it does feel clinical, but there’s a way of looking at it and saying, like, that’s almost the best you can do. Yeah. Because there’s no way to identify, right? Yeah. And you’re the reason they’re going to be center. Greenlawn is because the because again, the remains previously that were moved out of North graveyard ended up there. So presumably, they would be buried in the same cemetery as different than family, or

Tim Fulton  16:58

at least folks who were around at the same time right contemporaries,

Jesse Bethea  17:01

right, which is, you know, again, as close as you can get without having any identification. And from

Tim Fulton  17:06

an archaeological standpoint, we should say that they were there was not a bulldozer that like went through and got all these remains as soon as they found remains actual construction and like digging stopped and there. Are they are they archaeology days that would you would call them? Yes.

Jesse Bethea  17:23

So they are. This is an interesting distinction. Okay. But they are what’s called cm CRM, archeologists, that’s Cultural Resources Management. Okay. So they are archaeological contractors that people hire when they are going to be operating in a location that they know has, you know, human remains or archaeological, you know, it’d be the same as if they were looking at a site that was known to be like a native site. Got it. Okay. And now, it is, it wasn’t so much like, we just start digging in and stop if we hit bones, because they were aware. I mean, everyone knew this spot was

Tim Fulton  18:02

this is gonna when we do this, yeah. And everybody Yeah. Well, what was interesting to me at the time is, I felt like, I knew that, like, and then when the story came out, and everybody was like, What the fuck? And I was like, we knew that, like we knew, and but in hindsight, what you realize is like, yeah, we knew it, but we don’t talk about that. Yeah. Like, yeah. Well,

Jesse Bethea  18:25

and it’s funny that, like, I’ve done 11 of these things. And the comments are always sort of like, what? Right? Okay, I’m happy. You’re learning this. But yeah, I don’t know what else we need to tell. Yeah. So I think that and that, but I think that’s a symptom of this sort of thing we have about Columbus of like, yeah, there wasn’t a Columbus before. 1989. What are you talking about? How could there be a graveyard under North Market?

Tim Fulton  18:50

Right, city center was our founding. Yeah.

Jesse Bethea  18:53

And so yeah, I can understand why it’s such a surprise. I actually had a really great conversation with Bucky cut, right? Yeah. The person who runs the ghost tours. Yeah. And he was saying like, yeah, you know, it’s annoying, but it’s good for business because I’m always surprising people. Like, alright, yeah, yeah,

Tim Fulton  19:12

that’s fair. So fast forward a little bit. The we’ve covered the was an archeological dig. They so as they were very, they did this in a proper way. When remains were discovered. Were are there. So now they’re going through the process of basically separating out the remains, which may be a very long process, and not

Jesse Bethea  19:35

just separating, but they’re going to try and determine age. Okay, have you know how old when sorry, yeah, because I don’t mean I mean, both age of the person when they died and also how old Okay, so both those Yeah, factors. They’re trying to determine gender where they can, they’re trying to determine ethnicity where they can Okay, determine race where they can and then also do Turman pathologies, so if there are any obvious injuries that you can look at and be like, well, this person has a burden is a toll in their skull. So I know how they died, you know, and, and so that sort of thing trying to determine how the people died to the extent that they can basically any information that you can glean from the bones and the, you know, if there was any clothing or artifacts they were buried with, okay, they didn’t get a lot of that, but there are some things they discovered, artifact wise that might, that might help give you an idea of how old they are, where they came from, you know, if it’s like, hey, this button was only made in Germany or whatever, okay? Or this button only made at a certain time exactly right, or this button is, you know, expensive, you know, those guys must have been a wealthy person, that sort of thing. And the same with like, you know, if their teeth are worn down, that might give you an idea of their economic status.

Tim Fulton  20:53

And so will there be, what would be done with that? Right, is that the kind of thing that like, someone like you as a journalist would like, right, you know, right, the third third of your book about like, here’s the people that were there. Yeah,

Jesse Bethea  21:10

that would be compiled into a report. Okay, that would be given to, it would be a public report. Right? It would be one imagines quite lengthy, because they found a lot of people and a lot of things. Yeah. And it’s gonna take a long time for them to write it. So

Tim Fulton  21:27

okay. I’m hopefully the book comes out first. So we had been talking a little bit about sort of the the folks who are doing that work has changed over time. Yeah. Is that before we get too far into it? Should we read anything into that? Or is that just sort of administrative state people, this person started the job and this person finished it? And so I mean, that that aside, or what, why did that happen? That

Jesse Bethea  21:55

stuff happens. I I’ve heard a lot of different reasons for why the osteological analysis, leadership has sort of shifted, okay. And kind of different reasons from different sources. Yeah, I don’t really want to speculate too much on that course. But I think in general, there, there’s a striving for efficiency, for accuracy, obviously. But this is part of, you know, they’re doing the this is a job. They’re Lahontan associates are doing a job for their client, which is Rockbridge. The company that’s, that’s building the merchant tower, and so they’re trying to get they’re trying to do a good job, but also a speedy job. Right, within reason. There’s so I think that that

Tim Fulton  22:38

does that study doesn’t sort of hold up. Well, sorry. Now that I say that I know why. Right. It costs more. Yeah. Okay. Certainly does. So that that has sort of changed hands a little bit. Sure. Is there, but I guess what I’m trying to ask is, is that even important to talk about? Because we have another kind of juicy thing that you uncovered?

Jesse Bethea  22:59

It’s not it’s not fine. No, no, it’s not unimportant. It’s just, it’s still very much in the infancy. Okay. You know, it’s, I think it’s going to take a long time to do this, to even even when I say trying to do it speedily, that that’s a relative term, you know, like, you could, you could send all of them to like a DNA lab to see what what DNA you can extract. And that’s, we’ll talk about that later. Okay, cholera. But that’s, that costs a lot of money, it takes a lot of time. And so maybe you decide it, maybe it’s worth it to some, you know, to do it for a sampling of the bones, but not all of them. Right. And, in fact, it might be that they do a sampling of the bones to do the gender, the race and the ethnicity, again, picking the most articulated ones, the ones that you have the most, okay, remains for and saying, Okay, let’s just focus on

Tim Fulton  23:57

these. And is that the smart way to do it? Because I feel like it’s sampling, right. It’s like polling, like, intelligent people will know we take a census, which is literally we’re going to do every single thing. And with with the, basically amount of things they need to process. Frankly, I don’t believe there’s any finite time we need to do it, but like, yeah, maybe we do a sampling. And this is I think, what I’m advocating for, do a sampling, get a good idea of what we’re looking at and what you know, do an Occam’s razor like, Oh, these are horses, not zebras, and then continue the work of categorizing these people and you know, so the,

Jesse Bethea  24:43

the typical way of doing it, I believe the typical way of doing is doing the sampling based on the remains that you have a fuller picture of, okay. They’re definitely going to photograph and catalogue all of the remains. They discovered, okay, but like you were saying, if you’re having If you just have a femur that doesn’t belong to any other skeleton, and you’re like, Well, this is, this is clearly represents one individual, right, we just don’t have the rest of them, there’s really not more information you can get from that other than this is a femur, and maybe it has an injury or something, but, and we can maybe figure out how old it is. But comparing that to, we also have this articulated skeleton or we have, you know, how, you know, however many they have, that are fully articulated, you’re gonna be like, let’s just let’s focus on those because we can get so much data out. And there’s

Tim Fulton  25:33

so much more information. Right. So what other you would reference other testing that they’re doing? Well, one

Jesse Bethea  25:39

thing I’ll say is that they are, well, 100 Associates, at least when they were excavating seem to be much more, they seem to be more thorough than they necessarily needed to be. Hmm. And in particular, one of the ways is doing the, what’s called photogrammetry. Okay, that’s basically they, they took, you know, several dozen different photographs of each grave. Okay. And from those photographs build a high resolution 3d model. Okay, well, of what was in there. They did that for every single grave, which is unusual, okay, usually wouldn’t do that. And usually, you wouldn’t do it for empty graves. But they they did it for the empty ones, too. They found a grave. They were like, This was clearly a grave. But they dug down six feet, and there was nothing there. No remains no artifacts, no anything, they still did the photogrammetry of the empty grave, that they had that data as well. So they were very thorough in that regard. Okay. And so that is also going to be a very fascinating part of the report when it comes out.

Tim Fulton  26:37

Because that will tell us both where the grave sites were, but also I imagine where they may have What did you refer to it when one grave crosscutting? Yeah, when they had graves like that, that will show that, and this is me speculating.

Jesse Bethea  26:52

But I imagine it will also show a very clear dichotomy between articulated skeletons, which all of which were buried with evidence, according to Lohana associates, every articulated skeleton was bare, was buried with evidence of a previous coffin. So they were clearly you know, they were buried in a container of some sort. So it’ll show a clear dichotomy between those and the sort of jumbles of the

Tim Fulton  27:18

jumbles, sorry jumbles of bones, and oh, look, there’s no coffin here.

Jesse Bethea  27:24

Yeah. Which could mean it doesn’t necessarily mean they were buried without one, but it could mean. So this is clearly evidence of there was a grave here, there was a coffin here, there was a articulated skeleton, the coffin was exhumed, the skeleton was moved, but maybe they didn’t do a good job. All these bones were left behind,

Tim Fulton  27:42

and also probable, but also, I’m not. I don’t know enough about these things, but is also possibly evidence that like this was the poor side of the graveyard. Sure. This is where that not at May, maybe they were coffins, but they’re not as nice. On historically,

Jesse Bethea  27:58

we know that that was the case that there was a, there was a potter’s field situation, because it was the city’s cemetery. This is where if you died in Columbus between 1813 and 1864, that’s where you were buried. Yeah. And specially if you couldn’t afford to be buried elsewhere. Additionally,

Tim Fulton  28:16

is it evidence that like, maybe this area was less disturbed than another in the development that happened after that, when that land started being developed? Well,

Jesse Bethea  28:26

I think the the premise is that all of the because they only dug under the parking lot, parking lot area has been undisturbed, you know, at least under the ground, like there was never there were there, they did find foundations of like the previous North Market. Okay. And the Quonset hut, but overall, compared to the rest of that area, this sort of square where the parking lot was was fairly undisturbed, and kind of under the soil and so, again, relatively right, and so I think no matter what the expectation is, there wouldn’t have been very much disturbance.

Tim Fulton  28:59

What other testing in addition to so

Jesse Bethea  29:02

one of the things they did was they did soil samples, and they were looking for a number of things, but one of the things I know they were looking for specifically is the this I had a great conversation with an Italian archaeologist named Giuseppe virtual Lottie Okay, he he was an advisor early on the excavations as a doing the photogrammetry okay, because he did very similar work at a place called the Harrison township cholera cemetery down in lock born, okay, which is contemporary with North Market. So the people that were buried there roughly around the same time as the people buried at north north graveyard, okay. But his specialty is is bio archaeology and specifically chasing you know, chasing cholera cemeteries, he study color cemeteries in the US, he studied them in Italy. Okay, and so and he did the soil samples at Harrison Township and Taros Gaisano, who I mentioned earlier was working there as well. Okay. And so when she was hired, there’s a lot of overlap between these two, partially just because there’s not that many archaeologists in central Ohio, okay, but there’s a lot of overlap between these two projects. And so they continued this system of doing soil samples. The process would have been to do samples at the head of a grave, okay. The sort of mid stomach area, groin area, and then the feet, okay? The reason to do at the feet is more of a control because you did not expect any cholera DNA there. Okay. But you would expect it expelling from the orifices of a person got it? Okay. ceased. And so yeah, that that the the point of that is to try and identify cholera DNA, because we know that it was very prevalent around that time. We know historically, that people who died of cholera in Columbus during the two major cholera pandemics that was 1833 in 1849, okay, a lot of those people were would have been buried in in North graveyard. Okay.

Tim Fulton  31:07

The problem? Sorry, is knowing that simply, oh, we know how this person died? Or is it additional like, Well, is it that about that individual person? Or is it more for the historical record? Of Oh, more people died of cholera than we were aware of in Columbus? Or is there some significant like, oh, we can identify this strain that happened in 1833? Is it? Is it for modern use and purposes? So

Jesse Bethea  31:40

there’s a couple of reasons why that would be significant. One of them would be you know, if this is unlikely, but if we were like, oh, you know, this person died of cholera, historically, we know that. And so maybe this is, maybe we can identify them based on that. But that is, that’s crazy unlikely. The second reason is for the historical record, to establish, to get an idea of how people with cholera were treated after they were deceased in the US, okay. And there’s a lot of it’s interesting, because there’s a lot of myths about cholera epidemics, a lot of stories about like mass graves, and people being tossed into to pits and forgotten about. And Dr. virtualenv said, a lot of that is sort of false. It was, you know, he sort of compared it to a mass grave makes sense in a situation like a genocide, right? Are the people doing the burying hate the people being buried, right. But in a, in a pandemic situation? You’re being buried by your loved ones, there’s still an acknowledged Right, right. So and he said that there that did happen sometimes in European countries where the scale of death was just so much that those collars was not an option. Yeah, right. Those collars, cemeteries look very different from the ones he’s studied in the US got it. The third significant thing is if they found cholera DNA at North graveyard, that would be the first time anyone’s ever found cholera DNA in a gravesite. What they’ve never, they’ve never been able to find it, even in graves that they know are cholera graves.

Tim Fulton  33:13

Okay, so we’re looking for something we’ve been in the past trying to find, yes. Got it.

Jesse Bethea  33:19

Dr. Virgil, it says he did you know, the samples at at Harrison township where again, he knows these were people who died of cholera and were buried, he found DNA of other pathogens, just general human DNA, which of course, they could easily find from from North graveyard as well. But he never found cholera. And he’s like, isn’t

Tim Fulton  33:39

this isn’t that a theory that you would be able to you? If he’s never found it? Yeah, right. He is a theory that you would be able to find it

Jesse Bethea  33:51

theoretically you should be able to find it. But if he did find it, if he didn’t find it, that would be the first time we’re

Tim Fulton  33:56

putting Columbus on the map.

Jesse Bethea  34:01

His theory is that cholera being I don’t know how much you know about cholera is not a lot. I unfortunately had to read a lot about it to write that story. But it just flushes out your system. Okay, that’s how

Tim Fulton  34:13

and it’s bad. If one is bad, and two, it’s gross. Yeah. Like it’s a bad gross,

Jesse Bethea  34:17

is it your your you die of diarrhea, essentially. Okay. from dehydration due to uncontrollable diarrhea. Okay. And so the his theory is, if a person is dying that way, they’re flushing all of basically everything out of their system, and there’s no cholera left when they’re buried.

Tim Fulton  34:37

Mm hmm.

Jesse Bethea  34:38

So he was saying well, or

Tim Fulton  34:39

even maybe the like the embalming or internment process like it would just wouldn’t be right

Jesse Bethea  34:44

because you you would expect that one of the things what one your family members wouldn’t bury you with soiled clothing, for example, to your family members may very well clean you. Which obviously, you would want rain Yeah, but would possibly spread the disease? Right Tyria. So that that, okay, also dangerous. But so there’s all sorts of reasons why they wouldn’t find it. But if they found it, that’d be pretty, pretty exciting. Yeah, you know, indeed, from a bioarchaeological point of view.

Tim Fulton  35:17

And so the testing aside, as you’ve continued to sort of research this, I think that you’ve also done a good job of taking a higher level view. That is not only okay, this happened, how was it addressed? But also sort of saying like, how did Pete How did the the people that we entrust with handling these things address it? You actually did a FOIA request with the City of Columbus, and with the state agency that’s empowered to address these? What’s the agency’s State Historic Preservation Office? Yes, a State Historic Preservation Office. Both of them responded to your request, in slightly different ways. Yes. Tell us about that first, because I think it’s interesting. So I

Jesse Bethea  36:07

sent a FOIA request to the city of Columbus, and they responded pretty well. And pretty quickly, Matt Lorenz in particular, he, I’ve worked with, I’ve interviewed him, and I’ve worked with him a couple of times on the store, and he sort of compiled all the emails that he had available during the the process, specifically of the 2022 excavations, because that was what the city was involved in. Okay. They didn’t really have much involvement with the big excavations in 23. Okay. But he sent sort of a folder full of stuff that I could look through and, and then I sent a similar request to Shippo to the State Historic Preservation Office and got a different response. I was told that big Shippo is underneath the Ohio History Connection. And so they told me, they are technically a nonprofit, and not a state agency, even though which

Tim Fulton  37:04

is sort of true. I mean, they are an independent organization that is funded by the state.

Jesse Bethea  37:10

Yeah. And they’re the Shippo, you know, State Historic Preservation Officer is appointed by the governor. So there’s definitely some, it’s it’s more of a gray area than I think. But

Tim Fulton  37:25

they did. I think what they did is they said, here are the emails, by the way, we don’t have to give the stay was

Jesse Bethea  37:31

yeah, that was the gist of it. It was who they they said, you know, we want to be helpful. Yeah, here’s everything we have. But we also don’t have to give this to you.

Tim Fulton  37:39

And so what did you find there?

Jesse Bethea  37:41

I found a really good, candid look at sort of the interactions between each of the different I would say entities, because it’s not just agencies, it’s, you know, private companies, contractors. Yeah. You know, all the different entities involved in this. Sending emails back and forth, just trying to get on the same page for years. Okay, in advance of the beginning of excavations and 2022. Did

Tim Fulton  38:07

you ask for everything about the, like, the merchant building in general? Or was it like, hey, anything of just about the excavation? Yeah, I

Jesse Bethea  38:15

specifically because I also knew that like, any interactions that like Lohana, and Associates had with Rockbridge, like, I don’t have access to those the their public does, or their, their private companies, they don’t have any responsibility to give that to the media. But anything that involves the city or state, to an extent, you know, is, is more public and, and so that’s what I had access to. So I was sort of looking at it from the perspective of Matt Lorenz and from Crystal Horrocks. And from those two perspectives, I really got an idea of sort of like, who was who was talking to each other, who guys not talking to each other and who like, and kind of what the pitfalls were. Okay. And their one incident in particular, like, right after they started excavations in 2022. The city had AEP out there on Park Street, doing complete, like, it wasn’t unrelated in the sense that it was they were doing utility work. They’re doing utility work, and it was for the merchant building. But apparently nobody really thought that, that that was that they had to have that as part of the calculus because, okay, the story that I got from the emails that crystal Horrocks is that they were out there, and they started their work. And some of the guys from the HANA associates came over to them and said, Hey, what what are you doing? Do you know about the graveyard? Do you know there’s bodies there? Right. And the and the contractors are saying, there’s this is a cemetery, we should probably stop and write, you know, see what’s going on. And so, and so Krista horex is learning this and saying like, This is bad. This is someone who dropped the ball here, you know, right. And so You get the sense that Shippo determined that they had no authority to oversee any of this because it didn’t trigger any of the laws that they are concerned with. Okay.

Tim Fulton  40:12

But who’s so it’s a city issue? It’s

Jesse Bethea  40:15

it’s complicated. Okay. There are three major that you can cut some of this out of? Well, I’m interested in. So there’s three major laws to state one federal the federal law is section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Yes. And that’s it that really stresses any federal agency doing anything that might impact a cemetery has to be coordinating with the state Shippo state has a Shippo

Tim Fulton  40:50

got it? Which makes it all the more publicly reportable no one would like but yeah, you can say no to my four year request. Sure.

Jesse Bethea  41:02

Shippo determine that in count, or didn’t apply here because no federal agency was involved. Okay.

Tim Fulton  41:07

So box checked out our Oh, two state laws.

Jesse Bethea  41:13

Yeah. Ohio, revised code. 149. Point, something.

Tim Fulton  41:18

I can’t quite get the job though. Like,

Jesse Bethea  41:19

I think it’s 140 907. Okay. Yeah.

Tim Fulton  41:23

A fact check the end of this episode.

Jesse Bethea  41:25

So it’s basically the same thing except with state agencies, any state entity that’s doing anything, okay, impact a cemetery has to

Tim Fulton  41:32

work with Shippo. And guess what, these are private companies that are building on private land

Jesse Bethea  41:38

with $34 million of state tax credits, but

Tim Fulton  41:41

yeah, okay. But so,

Jesse Bethea  41:43

but that yes, that that still doesn’t count.

Tim Fulton  41:47

I point you to the Supreme Court saying, Hey, if you’re not giving them money, you’re not giving them money. If you’re if you’re not taking money from them, that’s not you are not giving them money. And I’m so state credits. You’re not giving them money. I wasn’t saying that. Supreme Court settled it. So that’s box number two. Yeah.

Jesse Bethea  42:07

So they’re good. Okay, what’s

Tim Fulton  42:08

box three?

Jesse Bethea  42:11

I’m really I’m gonna forget this one. The code number the code? No, not important. I think it’s 759. Okay. So this Ohio Revised Code number seven something it’s an interesting one because it says the municipality can sell land that was previously a cemetery but is now abandoned, okay, North Market or your graveyard profits. But the buyer of that land cannot take possession of it without without removing all of the graves. Okay. And it has this interesting language where it says you have to re re erect the any monuments or tombstones found at that location at the location of re burial.

Tim Fulton  42:59

Which one would in this case would basically say a they’re going to green lawn? And that’s what we did? Yeah. Okay.

Jesse Bethea  43:06

Put a pin in that though. Okay. Under that law,

Tim Fulton  43:10

that wasn’t city land at that point, was it?

Jesse Bethea  43:13

It was because it belonged to North Market? Well, Blanc,

Tim Fulton  43:17

it sorry, it belongs to the city, not the North Market, like develop I think region or whatever, but that’s still a city got an entity, okay. You

Jesse Bethea  43:24

know, legally. Okay. So, that law that Ohio State law does not say anything about Shippo is involvement. And because of that ship owes there are these emails from the HANA associates and from Rockbridge to Crystal Horrocks asking, Hey,

Tim Fulton  43:43

are we can you sign off on right? Are we okay? Are we doing the right, okay? Because that’s what they that’s what you as a developer, like you’re reading of the law, what authority can basically vouch that we did this the right way. Here’s our plan. Yeah. And then what did Shippo say?

Jesse Bethea  44:00

She had to say, you know, I can give you recommendations about what you should be doing and what you shouldn’t be doing. But we don’t have any jurisdiction over this. So I can’t tell you if you’re if you’re following the law or not, basically.

Tim Fulton  44:12

And did they point to jurisdictional authority?

Jesse Bethea  44:15

As close as I they did? They said under this under this revised code? We don’t have any authority. We don’t have any jurisdiction over that law. Who does? The

Tim Fulton  44:27

municipality? Yes. So okay. We think is that a yes? Or is that a,

Jesse Bethea  44:32

it’s I don’t know. Okay. And this is sort of the question I’m working with. Now. This is we’re up to the limits of my knowledge about how any of this went down. Okay. Because the only definitive thing that’s in those emails is somebody from Rockbridge said we are in dialogue with the city about this question.

Tim Fulton  44:50

Sorry, I’m remembering a very minor point of this. The city didn’t sell the land. The right the city is leaked this City is allowing them to build on the land.

Jesse Bethea  45:06

So that’s that’s an intricacy that I may not be. Let’s

Tim Fulton  45:09

look into that. And I might be wrong. And this again will be in the fact check. But if because what you said at least what I heard is the city can sell land. There is no law that I imagined, posited a situation where the sorry, there should be one, because this happens all the time, where the city is like, this is actually still ours. The reason why I believe that is because I know, there was disagreement about what happens to the parking fees for the parking garage is associated with the merchant tower. Okay, so that is still there, then I

Jesse Bethea  45:47

would be interested in language of the law, then whether it says sell or whether it says some other we’re looking at it. Yeah. But basically, they this was this was the question they were asking, Okay, are we doing everything right under this specific law,

Tim Fulton  46:01

they went to Shippo Shippo said, Here’s recommendations, but I can’t sign off on it. Yeah.

Jesse Bethea  46:06

So then they went to the city. And as far as I don’t know, who they talked to, with the city, okay. Clearly, somebody said, you’re good. Because they’re because they’re looking forward. Yeah. Right. But I don’t know who that person was. And I don’t know how they came to a decision. I

Tim Fulton  46:20

imagine that the development company is large enough to have lawyers that would say, Hey, you checked every box, you could Yeah, even if nobody’s telling you no, even if nobody’s saying yes. If they’re all not telling you no, then you’re okay.

Jesse Bethea  46:35

Right. Right. And it kind of came up a few times. Because remember, earlier I said about the the monuments and the tombstones, okay. So at one point on Spruce Street, Lohana, associates did discover to Flintstones, okay. Flintstones, traditionally would not have the name of the person in the grave that they are marking. Okay, that’s important to remember. Usually, if they had any indication or inscription, it would just be the initials of the person. Okay. So there’s no way of knowing who these foot stones belong to. Hmm, so, Lahontan associates, when they contacted Shippo, they were saying, hey, and again, they were going through the process, they were supposed to be going through, they thought they were supposed to be going, right? They were saying, Hey, we found these. Our plan is to rebury them, not redirect them the way the law says we should be doing because we can’t, we don’t know who these Flintstones belong to. So we don’t have a when we rebury this at Greenlawn. We don’t have a individual we can re erect associate them. Okay. So we consider them artifacts that we should be repairing. But they’re they’re giving this to Shippo as like, Hey,

Tim Fulton  47:53

you tell us Yeah, we okay.

Jesse Bethea  47:57

We think we’re doing the right thing, but out of an abundance of caution, right. And the answer, again, is we don’t have jurisdiction over that. We can’t, we can’t tell you what to do. I

Tim Fulton  48:06

thought we’re gonna go down a route of like state law defines monuments this way, right? No, no, I don’t know. So that’s another question. But why is that? Sorry, I didn’t hear in your original telling that the monuments had anything to do with the remains.

Jesse Bethea  48:19

They don’t well, so these monuments were discovered at a grave location, right. But it’s one of those cross cutting ribs. Okay. So it’s not clear. But

Tim Fulton  48:30

yeah, it’s okay. It’s an interesting legal thing to think about. Right.

Jesse Bethea  48:34

But I think what it shows, though, is that they were the archaeologists were doing everything they could to keep everything within the bounds of the law. Right. But there’s just so many like this, as well.

Tim Fulton  48:45

And to an extent going above and beyond the documentation that they’re doing the testing that they’re doing, like, they’re doing it right, as far as we can tell. Yeah. Well, folks, by and large, may not have been as informed as they should have been about. Here’s what’s going to happen when we do this. Yeah.

Jesse Bethea  49:03

Yeah, so I think but the problem that keep that everyone involved in this keeps running into is that it’s a mess. It’s just an absolute mess. It’s been a mess for 150 years. Yeah. And, and so yeah, I think mostly people are trying to do the right thing. As much as that is a bit of a corporate sort of PR spray and but it’s hard to do the right thing when something is this messy.

Tim Fulton  49:28

Yeah. True. Jesse, thanks for your time.

Jesse Bethea  49:32

Thank you. I’m sorry. I

Tim Fulton  49:33 feel like we’ve known well over not at all. Thank you for listening to the confluence cast presented by Columbus underground. Again, you can get more information on what we discussed today in the show notes for this episode at the confluence gas.com Please rate subscribe, share this episode of The confluence cast with your friends, family, contacts enemies, your favorite archaeologist. If you’re interested in sponsoring the confluence guests get in touch with us. We can be reached by email at info at the confluence cast.com Our theme music was composed by Benji Robinson. Our producer is Phil Cogley. I’m your host, Tim Fulton. Have a great week.