St. Charles Herald-Guide

Corps seeks input for historic cemetery plan

Jonathan Menard - February 3, 2012

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold a public meeting on Wednesday to seek input on the best way to manage two cemeteries that reside in the Bonnet Carre Spillway but are now grass-covered fields.

The cemeteries, named Kenner and Kugler, are African-American burial plots which appear to date from the early 1800s to 1929. The sites are located on former adjoining nineteenth and early twentieth century sugar plantations, according to Louisiana Cemetery Preservation.

The Kenner Cemetery, located on the former Roseland Plantation, was reported to be marked by iron and wooden crosses during its period of use. No such markers were confirmed archeologically, but one granite headstone was recovered from the site. The Kugler Cemetery, located on the former Hermitage Plantation, was reported to contain iron crosses and a metal fence. One such iron cross and remnants of what could have been the fence were recovered during archeological investigations in 1986.

At present the sites are indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape, but both sites were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.

"The Corps intends to preserve and interpret these historic properties as well as improve public access to the sites," Chris Brantley, Bonnet Carré Spillway project manager, said. "This public meeting will provide a venue for open communication between the Corps and key stakeholders, including the descendants of those buried in the cemeteries."

The longterm management plan for the cemeteries will also include reburial of cemetery remains inadvertently disinterred from the Kenner Cemetery.

Known descendants of the Kenner and Kugler cemeteries will also receive a letter informing them of the upcoming public meeting.

An informational open house will begin at 6 p.m. at the Destrehan Plantation Mule Barn, with the project presentation to begin at 6:30 p.m.