Bones found at Fort Rosalie

Published 12:03 am Friday, August 26, 2011

Ben Hillyer | the Natchez Democrat Adams County Coroner James Lee, left, Adams County Sheriff’s Office investigator Ricky Stevens and reserve deputy Shelley Ladner document the remains of a skeleton Thursday morning. The bones were found at the Fort Rosalie site, a part of the Natchez National Historical Park.

NATCHEZ — Archeologists working on a historical study at Fort Rosalie got a bit of a shock Thursday morning when one of the workers unearthed human remains.

Kathleen Jenkins, superintendent of Natchez National Historical Park, said the skeleton is probably from the 19th century, as it was found facing east-west with its arms crossed, which also indicates a formal burial.

Nothing indicates that the remains were of Native American descent, she said. If the remains had been Native American, legal concerns could have come up, since interfering with a Native American burial ground is a federal offense.

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Coroner James Lee said he was called to the scene at 9 a.m., and Adams County Investigator Ricky Stevens also responded to the call.

“It was a very intentional burial,” Lee said. “The call came, and we had to investigate it.

“A guy on a backhoe discovered what he thought was a skull, and it was, indeed, a skull.”

Lee said he planned to photograph as much as he could of the brittle bones and then leave them were they lay.

“We made the decision to let (the skeleton) remain where it is,” he said. “Someone’s loved one probably placed them there.”

Archeologists have been on the site for the past six years trying to gather information about Fort Rosalie, Jenkins said, like how it was constructed and whether Native Americans resided there before the Spanish and the French.