What happened to ancient cemetery? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

What happened to ancient cemetery?

February 22, 2006

Dougherty County -- A plantation manager admits a Civil War-era cemetery was plowed under, according to Dougherty Counties sheriff's investigators. Investigators say the centuries-old cemetery was plowed under by workers at the Ecila Plantation in Western Dougherty County.

Now a criminal investigation is underway by the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.

Lt. Craig Dodd/ Office;] <<((

Sheriff's Investigators and County Planning Officials check the site where the cemetery was bulldozed two years ago. Dougherty Co. Sheriff's  Lt. Craig Dodd said, "There were a number of graves, but they are not absolutely positive to the amount."

The site is next to the Ecila Plantation on Tallahassee Road in Western Dougherty County. Sheriff's investigators say the Manager of the Plantation, told them that in May or June 2004 they harrowed up the area, not knowing what was there.

Lt. Dodd said, "The area was something of an eyesore, it had not been kept up. And that they were just trying to clean up the area when they discovered the cemetery."

 Investigators say the plantation manager admitted that they plowed up headstones dated 1863, and pulled up a concrete slab. Now Investigators want to know more. "What exactly occurred?" Dodd asked. "Was anything moved, anything disinterred?"

A property deed filed in Dougherty County in 1996 shows the location of a cemetery. The deed shows that the Plantation does not own it, laying out the property lines around the cemetery.

Georgia law says that a cemetery, even on private property, is to be left intact, unless a permit is granted. Under Georgia law disturbing a cemetery is a felony, punishable by jail time and a five thousand dollar fine per headstone disturbed.

The Sheriff's Office is asking anyone that has information about this cemetery on Tallahassee Road, or who might be buried there to call them. When Investigators conclude their investigation, they will turn over all the evidence to the District Attorney's Office, to decide if criminal charges need to be filed.

The Ecila Plantation is owned by A. J. Clark from Bethesda, Maryland. We have not been unable to reach the owner nor the manager of the plantation for comment.

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