Canadian archeological dig doesn’t produce Henry Countian’s remains

-A A +A
By Brad Bowman

Canadian archeologists discovered two anomalies thought to be shallow grave shafts after analyzing preliminary ground penetrating radar results. Foster Bartlett, a Henry Countian who enlisted in the War of 1812, remains weren’t found.

One of those graves was believed to contain to the remains of Henry Countian Foster Bartlett, who enlisted in the Kentucky Mounted Infantry during the War of 1812. The archeologists finished the dig last week.

“I went up to Canada and they had finished the archeological survey of Tecumseh Park. They waited to start the dig until I got there,” said John Trowbridge, Kentucky National Guard historian. “The dig went on for another four weeks for them to get to the ground of 1812.”

Trowbridge researched records that indicated Bartlett never came home. Bartlett’s records indicated he may have been killed in the Skirmish of the Forks.

“The Kentucky Adjutant General Report ‘Roster of the Volunteer Officers and Soldiers from Kentucky in the War of 1812-1815’ lists Capt. Rice’s company from Henry County. Pvt. Bartlett enlisted in the company and was engaged until Oct. 4, 1813.,” Trowbridge said. If you read the journal of Capt. Robert B. McAfee’s, who commanded a company during this campaign, he goes into detail what occurred at the battle,” Trowbridge said. “He makes mention that, ‘…In this fight, Capt. Rice and Combs of the regiment each had a man killed,’ If you go through the complete rosters of Col. Johnson’s only two soldiers listed as having their military service ended on Oct. 4. Pvt. Bartlett of Henry County and Pvt. William Hardwick who served under Comb’s company from Fayette and Clark Counties.”

Trowbridge explained that the majority of members of the company served until mid-November 1813. The date of Bartlett and Hardwick’s end enlistment coincide with the Skirmish at the Forks.

Trowbridge spoke for four days during the Canadian bicentennial celebration at the Chatham-Kent Park in late September and early October explaining the historical background of those that served from Kentucky during the war. Trowbridge asked assistance from the Henry County Local in finding a living descendant that could give DNA samples to confirm if remains found could be identified as Foster Bartlett. With research, several descendants were found as far away as California. Tom Beaton, manager of parks, cemeteries and horticulture for the municipality of Chatham-Kent, supervised the dig, but currently doesn’t need DNA samples.

“They initially started the furthest area away from the river. It didn’t make sense to me because Kentuckians wouldn’t have been that far up there,” Trowbridge said. “Once they got down on the river, they found pottery which was more current. They (park officials) built the river embankment up to keep it from flooding over the last hundreds of years shifting the land from flooding. If you look at the normal lay of the land, there’s a possibility things could’ve been moved.”

Trowbridge said the ground penetrating radar showed grave shaft anomalies and also holes where in the past postholes had been dug for fencing. Over time, the remains may have washed away or could still be buried underneath the layers of soot in the river. Being that it is a park, Trowbridge said it is uncertain what has been done to potential remains from the past.

“They went significantly deep to get to the 1812 level. They found flint off of a musket, some regimental buttons that were more recent,” Trowbridge said. “No human remains were found. It’s still exciting what they did find. Since it is a park, there is no telling what has been done to the land and what parts of the battlefield have been moved.”