Tribune-Courier General Manager
An archaeological study got underway last week at the site of the Children’s Arts Center at 12th and Elm streets in Benton according to Dr. Kenneth Carstens, professor emeritus at the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at Murray State University.
Carstens has been hired by the City of Benton to perform the study and said his work involves the documentation of cultural resources greater than 50 years of age.
He said he his son have been working together over the past week to flag artifacts at the site.
On Sept. 4 workers with the Marshall County Road Department unearthed human remains while working on the parking lot of the center which was on schedule to have opened by month’s end.
Work on the center and the parking lot project have been on hold at direction of The Department for Local Government since the grave was found.
No other graves have been found on the property at this point according to Carstens, but a number of displaced artifacts have been located. Carstens would not comment specifically on what those artifacts are.
Carstens said yesterday he is still working to have state officials allow for the re-opening of the Arts Center to workers and volunteers.
“There is nothing on that portion of the property of historical significance,” said Carstens. “I have made my case in Frankfort and at this point we are awaiting a response,” he said.
Once the archaeology study is complete on the northwest portion of the property where the grave was unearthed and workers are allowed back on the property to complete backhoe work for the parking lot, Carstens said he will stay at the site and oversee the project. He said he expects that to be complete in no more than a week or two.
Artifacts found at the site are being taken to Carsten’s lab for cleaning, cataloging and analysis. He said they will be returned to the City of Benton. The city can either choose to retain them or have them curated.
City officials hired Carstens after archives of the Marshall County Genealogical Society documented evidence of several members of the John Warren Brandon family being buried on the porperty.
The family lived at the corner of 12th and Elm streets in the mid-late 1800s. It is believed as many as three infants and four adults may be buried in the small private cemetery.