Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
State archaeologist called to determine if subdivision site is ancient burial ground

By: Kym Soper
Journal Inquirer
May 24, 2007

VERNON - Town officials contacted the state archeologist's office this week requesting an investigation of claims that an ancient Indian burial ground exists on the site of a planned subdivision in the Vernon Center area.

Town Planner Neil Pade said Wednesday he received three calls from residents asserting the site just off Trout Stream Drive has historical significance, and he wants to see if state officials have any maps or know of the likelihood of an Indian graveyard in the vicinity.

"It can't hurt to make the call," said Pade, adding, "We have an obligation to do a thorough review."

On Tuesday, developers presented plans to the Inland Wetlands Commission for a nine-lot subdivision on 17.51 acres just off Trout Stream Drive, and a public hearing was opened.

About 30 residents came out to speak, but according to Vice Chairman Steve V. Taylor, the matter had to be continued to the commission's June 12 meeting because time ran out.

No one mentioned the possibility of an Indian graveyard at Tuesday's public hearing, Taylor said, adding it wouldn't be a matter for his commission anyway.

It does fall under the domain of the Planning and Zoning Commission, however, where applications eventually would be filed.

Pade said he received at least three phone calls this week from Trout Stream Drive residents, all claiming that the land to the rear of their properties was sacred ground.

"When they bought their properties the builder told them the land behind them would never be built on because it was an ancient Indian burial ground and a historically protected site," Pade said.

Pade said he immediately contacted the Vernon Historical Society to inquire about local lore.

Robert B. Hurd, chairman of the Vernon Local Historic Properties Commission, and Ardis Abbott, Vernon Historical Museum director, both said they have no knowledge or information suggesting an Indian graveyard along the stream in that area.

"According to Hazel Lutz, who preceded Ardis as VHS Museum director, native Americans used the area around Vernon Center solely for summer fishing and not for year-round living," Hurd wrote Pade in an email.

"I suggest you request that these concerned neighbors offer more than some type of oral tradition to substantiate their claims," Hurd continued. "Perhaps they can identify a surviving representative of the developer who they claim made these promises."

Glastonbury resident Jose D. Correia, who applied for permits to create the proposed subdivision, owns the property now under review.

Correia said he never heard about an Indian burial ground there until this week, when calls were made to town officials.

"My attorney is working with that right now," Correia said, adding there is nothing in the property deeds mentioning a burial ground, and that, for now, "it's only a rumor" with divergent legends and locations.

Some of the area residents think native Americans may be buried in the area, but in an open field farther west, closer to Merline Road and the railroad tracks, Correia said.

While the allegations may put a temporary glitch in Correia's plans, the owner says he also wants to ensure the site is sound before building.

"There's nothing you can do," he said. "We have to go through the proper channels and deal with it. In this case, it's best to leave it to the professionals" and let them determine if the site is historically significant or not.orary source of revenue and that they can't take the Board of Finance into account is a little inappropriate," he said.

©Journal Inquirer 2007