As District Judge Sue Carol Browning left her home Thursday afternoon, she noticed a clump of trees located in a nearby field had recently been bulldozed down. What made this stand out to the judge, was her recollection of an old cemetery she knew was located inside the now piled-high rubble. Browning quickly notified Logan County Sheriff Wallace Whittaker of the situation, which prompted a visit to the field by he and two of his deputies that afternoon.
While there, authorities found no specific head stones, however, there were several pieces of rock that appeared to be white granite still stuck in the ground. There was also a very high pile of trees that had been pushed together in a pile by a bulldozer.
“We will be investigating this issue to the fullest,” said Whittaker, adding he will be ordering a ceasing of all activity at the site until a thorough investigation can begin. Whittaker also said he was planning on requiring the property owners to tear down the pile of debris, to see what lies beneath it. The department is currently trying to ascertain who owns the property.
“I have spoken to some who say they too believed there to be a cemetery in that area as well,” said the sheriff.
Judy Lyne, long time volunteer of the Logan County Archives, and somewhat of a local cemetery expert, said there was no listing in the Logan County cemetery book for this particular area, but that it did not mean there was not a cemetery located there, Lyne said.
The cemetery book, which is housed at the archives, lists hundreds of local out-of-the-way cemeteries and who is buried within them. Lyne says the book is very helpful, however, admits there are still many cemeteries in Logan County that have not been recorded.
According to the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) there are specific laws governing the violation of graves. KRS 525.115 says a person is guilty of violating graves when he “intentionally mutilates the graves, monuments, fences, shrubbery, ornaments, grounds or buildings in or enclosing any cemetery or place of sepulture or violating the graves of any person by destroying, removing or damaging the headstone or footstone or tomb over the enclosure protecting any grave. It is also in violation if anyone digs into or plows over or removes any ornament, shrubbery or flower placed upon a grave.”
Although the statute seems cut and dry, responsibility for such out-of-sight, backwoods cemeteries seems to be as much a mystery as the people lying within them. Lyne said this is an unfortunate happening, but very common, occurring a great deal.
Browning said she isn’t sure how many graves are in the cemetery, but she knows there was one there. She also stated she is not speculating if the act was intentional or not.
“It is important to educate people about these old cemeteries in our community to keep things like this from happening,” said Browning, adding if you have property you need to make sure you know what is on it. Browning said she cannot imagine why anyone would intentionally destroy a cemetery no matter how old it is, and that it only takes a little common sense.