Family reveal they knew about unmarked graves at Ford battery factory site

HARDIN COUNTY, Ky. (WAVE) – A family who owned the land that is now slated to become the new Ford Battery Plant said they were aware of unmarked graves on the property.

“Nineteen unmarked burials have been identified as a result of additional archaeological fieldwork completed in March 2022,” said Katie Newton, public relations specialist for the Louisville District Public Affairs Office of the Corps of Engineers of the U.S. military, to WAVE News in a May 9 statement. According to Newton, a relocation of the grave took place in 2003 to the Blue Oval SK Battery Park site, but the Corps was not involved.

Delbert Best said his grandfather purchased the property in 1862.

“I went back there as a kid and played marbles there,” Best said. “So I knew they were there, yeah.”

Many tombs in the area are unidentified. Best said some of them could be his family or the people who lived on the land before them.

“Maybe everyone who lived on that farm before him used the same cemetery,” Best said.

These graves will be moved to the new family cemetery in Best’s yard. He said the Army Corps of Engineers had kept him informed since the tombs were discovered and archaeologists had been respectful throughout the process.

“Yes, I welcome that,” he said with a smile. “Just move them here. I’m just like, ‘bring them here and get it over with’, you know? I will be glad of this !

The Army Corps of Engineers said the graves have not yet been exhumed, but Best believes the process will take place in about a week.

To move the unmarked cemetery, the Corps of Engineers is working with the Kentucky Heritage Council and the Kentucky State Historic Preservation Office, as well as suspected family members. According to Newton, the cemetery must be moved to comply with Kentucky law.

Moving the burial site will not affect the Corps’ decision on the DA permit for the Ford battery plant, according to Newton.

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