Defacing Signposts of the Dead

I have discussed all manner of things that teenagers, and adults as well, get up to when they are bored. It takes a certain type of person to enjoy the bizarre, the macabre, a certain thrill from chasing after ghosts or telling stories about them to startle or completely scare the wits from someone.
It’s another breed entirely that gets their kicks from going to old abandoned houses and cemeteries, bent on nothing but destruction – just because they can. There truly are people like this in the world, and it’s a sad situation when a 200 year old house has to be torn down because someone decided to throw a match in it one evening.
I remember about 20 years ago hearing in the local news that vandals had broken out all the windows at the New Salem Church. A farmhouse in the woods behind it was burned down shortly afterwards. Then there is the famous Hammer House on Horseshoe Bend that went up in flames on Hallowe’en in the late 1960s. Both houses were reported to be haunted. No one was ever arrested for these atrocities.
What really bothers me the most is to see all these little country cemeteries that have been left by the wayside, and someone goes in and pulls up the rocks, or breaks them off… Someone’s loved one laid their worldly remains there with love and grief, and that rock was put there as a reminder to us all that this is the way we all will go. If it disturbs you so bad to know you will be in a place like this yourself one day, then just walk away from it. Don’t desecrate someone’s final resting place!
I can think of a few local cemeteries in recent years that have been vandalized, and several people went to jail for it. I’ve also seen in my time people buying property where a little family plot with eight or ten field rocks marked their resting place. Go back by it in a few years and there are four or five rocks, and a new road across the field. Go back in another year, or five, and there is no sign there was ever a cemetery there.
Progress has its pitfalls, especially for those who buy property with an existing cemetery, no matter how old or abandoned it is, and do not check with their state laws before doing what they wish with said cemetery, no matter how overgrown.
I do know the Commonwealth of Kentucky has some stiff penalties for defacing markers, desecrating cemeteries, plots, or any part of the burial grounds. The following link provides the KRS Statutes of this state and the penalties for abusing them.

http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~kyekg/cemlaws.htm

I hope I haven’t depressed you all too much, but I have recently been involved in helping to relocate my great-grandfather’s burial place (John Miller Dugard) so a tombstone could be placed there. All we had to go by is one of the aforementioned plain stones, that my great-uncle had painted green so we could know his from the six or seven other rocks just like it in a row. In the few days since I have uncovered it to signpost for the monument company where it was, someone has tried to scrape the green paint off the stone! I just can’t imagine having that much time on my hands myself!
Have an enjoyable spring day!

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About Gclee

I am a long time genealogy and local history hunter from Barren Co., KY. I have many stories to share that may be of interest to other local genealogists and history buffs. I enjoy this as a hobby and hope I can be of encouragement to others. I also hope everyone enjoys my stories as much as I have enjoyed learning about them.
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