Is cemetery missing branch to family tree? - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Is cemetery missing branch to family tree?

Jack and Mary Whitesell Lee Jack and Mary Whitesell Lee

Chris Proffitt/Eyewitness News

Castleton - The State of Indiana plans to move a family cemetery to make way for a major upcoming expansion of interstate 69.  That cemetery may be the missing branch in a family tree.
When INDOT officials revealed last week they intend to move the bodies buried in the 150-year-old family cemetery to make way for a major I-69 expansion, INDOT spokesperson Megan Tsai said, "We're looking for  family members, but it has been 150 years. We're still hopeful someone comes foward."

They may have.

Jack Whitesell and his sister, Mary Whitesell Lee, had no idea that the little Whitesell family cemetery - just a few feet from I-69 - could be the missing link they've been searching for over much of their lives.  According to Jack, "It was a big surprise to us."

Jack and Mary learned of the state's plan as a major road project, beginning in 2012, doubles the number of lanes on I-69 with the cemetery right in the path. 

INDOT determined the only appropriate thing to do was to move the final resting place.  Anthropologists at the University of Indianapolis will exhume the remains this fall.  They will then be studied before interment at Crown Hill's Pioneer Cemetery.

"We didn't know there was a Whitesell cemetery," says Mary Whitesell. "But if they do it respectfully, I have no problem with that."

According to Curt Whitesell, the family wants proof that the people buried there, are indeed, part of the family.  "We'd like to know. Can we do tests? DNA tests? How can we be a part of it to know yay or nay?"

And while it's uncertain that the living Whitesells are related to the buried Whitesells, the possibility thrills a family in search of their roots.

The Whitesells will meet with INDOT later this month. They hope that forensic anthropologists will be able determine if the two families are indeed related.

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