DURRETT-L ArchivesArchiver > DURRETT > 2004-09 > 1095026605
From: "Marsha Hamilton" <>
Subject: Peter Durrett of Fayette Co., KY
Date: Sun, 12 Sep 2004 18:03:25 -0400
Can anyone tell me who this Peter Durrett was in the newspaper article
below? I not on the Durrett list so please contact me at
Posted on Sat, Sep. 11, 2004
Old human bones to be reburied in church garden
By Jennifer Hewlett
HERALD-LEADER STAFF WRITER
Some of the yellowed, porous bones belonged to a slight-statured man and
woman who apparently lived more than a century ago. All of the remains
showed signs of rickets.
This much is clear: The bones had been disturbed before.
Soon they will be reburied. Perhaps this time they will have a final resting
The bones, unearthed last winter at a construction site on Bolivar Street,
will be placed together in a coffin and buried in the garden on the grounds
of Historic Pleasant Green Missionary Baptist Church on Maxwell Street. The
reinterment is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24, and will be carried out
in conjunction with the church's 214th anniversary celebration.
"These are people. We need to respect them," said Fayette County Coroner
Gary Ginn, who has spearheaded an effort to study the remains and find an
appropriate place for them.
Archaeologists and other experts recently finished examining the bones, and
have solved some of the mysteries surrounding them.
Unearthed by backhoe
The saga began February 25 when a backhoe operator working in a driveway on
Bolivar Street spotted what he thought was the head of a ball-peen hammer
sticking out of the ground. It turned out to be a human right femur. Later,
more bones were found.
The remains, mostly leg bones and leg bone fragments, were analyzed by Peter
Killoran, a physical anthropologist, who thinks they come from nine to 11
people, all apparently adults, according to a report produced by the
Kentucky Archaeological Survey, a partnership between the University of
Kentucky and the Kentucky Heritage Council.
Some of the bones are from a male about five-foot-six and a female about 5
feet tall. Those two individuals would be considered slight in stature for
the era they apparently lived in -- the 1700s and 1800s -- but further study
indicated that the people might have been short because of disease.
All of the bones exhibit curvature associated with rickets, or Vitamin D
deficiency. Four tibias show signs of osteo-myelitis, an infection of bone
marrow or bone structures. Two tibias have signs of anemia.
"Typically people that were less fortunate and didn't have as much income
would develop rickets," Ginn said.
The remains may have come from graves in Maxwell Cemetery, which was along
Bolivar Street in the 1700s and 1800s. John Maxwell, one of Lexington's
founders and Fayette County's first coroner, once owned the cemetery
property. Maxwell, members of his family and other early settlers are
thought to have been buried there. At some point, the city of Lexington
established a cemetery adjacent to Maxwell Cemetery, and eventually the two
burying grounds overlapped.
"Essentially when you're talking about one, you're talking about the other,"
said Fayette County Attorney Margaret Kannensohn, who has been involved in
the bones project to help with any legal issues that might arise. She's also
a history buff who has done research on the cemeteries. There was at least
one other cemetery in the vicinity during those years, according to
The report did not identify to whom the bones belonged. Identification is
nearly impossible, according to those involved in the project.
"There should have been hundreds and hundreds of graves at that site, over
time," Kannensohn said. But there are few records on Maxwell Cemetery
burials and only a handful of records on city burying- ground burials, she
The important thing, she said, is that "attention is being paid to the
history of the city and honor is being paid to whomever these persons were."
Not the first time
Last winter was not the first time the bones had been disturbed. The
skeletal remains were under fill material near a building foundation and
appeared to have been stacked into a pile, according to the report.
"They had been disturbed well before this excavation, and possibly many
times," Kannensohn said.
Maxwell Cemetery co-existed with and in some cases was encroached upon by
several types of buildings over the years. The report speculates that
tobacco warehouses built in the area from 1899 to 1904 and excavation for an
extension of Lawrence Street in 1900 removed most of the intact graves that
had survived earlier construction.
In 1900, workers unearthed "a lot of skeletons" during excavations for the
extension of Lawrence Street "through the old city burying ground,"
according to a Lexington Leader newspaper article.
W.H. Polk, in a letter published in the August 25, 1904, Lexington Leader,
referred to an account of a tomb being uncovered during excavation for an
addition to a tobacco warehouse. He also maintained that when the excavation
was done for "the tobacco factory," the bones of Maxwell and other
distinguished early Lexington residents were dug up and dumped into a nearby
"The cemetery had a very long period of, basically, abuse," said Nancy
O'Malley, a historic archaeologist and assistant director of the William S.
Webb Museum of Anthropology at UK. "It just kind of got little-by-little
destroyed as they developed that lot industrially."
O'Malley, who did the historical research for the report, called the history
of the burying grounds "a pretty sad story of desecration."
Rob McGoodwin, the developer whose contractors dug up the remains between
two former tobacco warehouses that were being transformed into condominiums
and lofts, said his business, The McGoodwin Co., paid for the time of
archaeologists who worked at the site and the archaeological survey report.
The company also will pay for a plaque on the building that was close to the
bone find. It will commemorate the site as one of the oldest burial grounds
in Lexington, he said. McGoodwin said he agreed to spend up to $2,000 on
archaeological work and the survey report and up to $500 on the plaque.
Returning a favor
Meanwhile, to Rev. T.H. Peoples Jr., pastor of Historic Pleasant Green
Missionary Baptist Church, the reburial of the bones on church property will
symbolize a trusting, working relationship between blacks and whites that
existed in Lexington long before slavery was abolished.
He also sees the reburial as a way to return a favor to those who helped the
church get its start.
John Maxwell was a slave holder who owned Historic Pleasant Green's first
pastor, Peter Duerett.
"Our founder was given the freedom as a slave to preach the Gospel by John
Maxwell," said the Rev. Herbert T. Owens Jr., Pleasant Green's historian and
an administrative assistant to Peoples. Maxwell lent a cabin to Duerett to
use for religious services for slaves, he said.
Owens added that because the church and Maxwell Cemetery had not been far
from each other, it was "most fitting and proper" that the bones be buried
in the church garden.
"They need a proper historically significant destination for their final
rest," he said.
Historic Pleasant Green plans to erect a special monument in memory of
Duerett and the people buried in Maxwell Cemetery, Peoples said.
"This is a historical event that has happened in our community," Ginn said.
"It needs to be commemorated. It also needs to have an ending."
Reach Jennifer Hewlett at (859) 231-3308 or 1-800-950-6397, Ext. 3308, or
|Peter Durrett of Fayette Co., KY by "Marsha Hamilton" <>|