NASHVILLE, TN — A recent report from Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research (TVAR) confirmed historians’ long-held suspicions that there is a “high likelihood” of human remains still present on the property of Ft. Negley Park and the abandoned Greer Stadium.
TVAR’s Interim Management Summary dated November 19, 2017, first obtained by and reported on by The Tennessean, indicates that their initial archaeological study to date is unable to rule out the existence of human remains on any area of the studied ground and, in fact, shows that the possibility exists for human remains to be found on the entire area under analysis. Acknowledging that the “property has a full and complex history,” the team of geophysical scientists and technicians studied areas of the abandoned Greer Stadium and the ground beneath its related parking structures and facilities.
When looking at the aerial view of the provided map that indicates the studied blocks, it is not apparent that the entire area of Greer Stadium is under review, however. With a mention of 12 blocks in the report and a map that indicates where 11 of these 12 blocks are located, they do not cover the entire portion of parking lots or any of the primary infield or outfield areas of the stadium, although the report does indicate that a survey was taken across the baseball field.
No information was provided that discussed the reasoning for choosing these identified 12 blocks – whether they were selected by TVAR or provided to them by Metro. No information was provided on the background for these in particular or why certain sections were not included in the identified blocks.
Despite what appears to be an incomplete review of the full property, the team contracted by Metro has nonetheless found indications of burials in a number of the areas studied to date, stating that their “interim assessment of the project areas is that the western area near Fort Negley has a high potential to contain human remains.” The report also states, “…[T]here is a high likelihood of human remains in the area of Blocks 10 and 11,” with the “potential for undisturbed soils continues further east in this area, transitioning to more disturbed areas in the lower parking lot north of left field.”
From an overall view of the provided aerial map, it appears that approximately one-fourth of the Greer Stadium property is being analyzed in the blocks marked out. With relatively little of the property under analysis and with the study already indicating a high likelihood of human remains on multiple areas of the map, it stands to reason that additional studies of the entire property would only further support the existence of graves and human remains—whether they would be considered as remmants of the relocated Catholic cemetery on the property, remains of Civil War soldiers or the unmarked graves of the African Americans conscripted for labor to build the Civil War fort over 150 years ago.
Questions remain as to identify of the human remains, their origin and the prevalence of finding graves in the entirety of this historic property slated for commercial, housing and retail property. In addition, the report also indicates that areas that were greatly disturbed during the construction of Greer Stadium, which opened in 1978, has a lower chance of finding undisturbed graves. However, the report does not rule out the possibility that graves were present at the time of Greer Stadium’s construction – merely that the likelihood of finding any undisturbed graves today in these areas is low.
The study will continue with additional testing, with more conclusive information provided in the upcoming weeks.