Human remains that were disturbed in two African American cemeteries in the Bonnet Carre Spillway will be laid to rest later this year and the area will be renovated.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers held a meeting last week to determine how to proceed in managing the Kenner and Kugler cemeteries, which appear to date from the early 1800s to 1928 and once adjoined two sugar plantations.
The cemeteries were originally established as burial places for slaves, according to the Corps. About 300 people are buried there, including Civil War Union Army veterans, in below-ground wooden coffins that originally had wooden, stone and iron markers.
At present, the sites are indistinguishable from the surrounding landscape, but site improvements planned for later this year will provide recognition and public access. Both sites were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The renovations include landscape and access improvements, planting trees and adding concrete boundary markers. Outdoor interpretive panels will be placed on the site with a history booklet focused on the people who lived in the area.
The plan also includes reburial of Kenner Cemetery remains that were inadvertently disinterred in 1975. About 52 bones and fragments from at least five individuals were disturbed. According to a presentation at the meeting, the consensus of the descendents of those buried in the cemetery was that the remains be reburied with a ceremony; the bones are currently in archeological storage.
The Corps proposed to rebury the remains in a wooden casket adjacent to the Kenner Cemetery with a marker and non-denominational ceremony, tentatively scheduled for fall of this year.
Anyone wishing to comment on the proposed plan can call 1(877)427-0345 or email BonnetCarre@usace.army.mil.