Historians say South Georgia cemeteries must be protected - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Historians say South Georgia cemeteries must be protected

February 24, 2006

Lee County -- A follow up to a story we brought you earlier this week about a criminal investigation into a cemetery being plowed under by a Dougherty County plantation's workers.  South Georgia historians say this is a crime that happens too often, destroying our heritage.

"This is just a good illustration of somebody respecting a cemetery." Woody Brooks, a local historian, checks out a long forgotten cemetery in rural Lee County. Forgotten, by everyone it seems, except the landowner, who protects it. Brooks said "The family is probably not alive, and the current owner of the property is looking after it too."

Brooks was upset when he saw our story this week about a west Dougherty County plantation manager admitting to Sheriff's Investigators he had plowed under headstones on a cemetery adjacent to plantation property.

 He wants landowners to know they do not own a cemetery. Brooks said "It owns itself, and you have no rights whatsoever to touch it, period. That's what the law says."

Georgia law protects cemeteries as sacred sites, no matter how old, abandoned, or where they are located. Brooks said "It actually belongs to the people buried there. If a large landowner were to have one in the middle of his place, he can't stop the people from coming to visit the people who are buried there either."

This cemetery has turn of the century headstones, which Brooks says are important as legal records. Brooks said "That is recorded history. Death certificates did not come in until 1919, and you need to go find out where somebody was born and raised, that's the record of their history right there."

Brooks is pleased this landowner is keeping this cemetery sacred. And is a good example for all Georgia landowners, because the people buried there deserve it. Woody Brooks said "That's history. That's people's family. If somebody tore it up, they should not have."

 Brooks said people call him all the time, leading him to forgotten cemeteries in South Georgia. Brooks said "There are more than you can imagine."

That's why Brooks says it is important for law enforcement to enforce the law protecting cemeteries, when the landowner does not, to preserve our forefathers resting place.

 Georgia law says maliciously disturbing a cemetery is a felony, punishable by jail time and fine.

No one has been charged in the West Dougherty Cemetery case, as an investigation continues.

feedback: news@walb.com?subject=cemeteriesprotected

  • More WALB News10 HeadlinesMore News HeadlinesMore>>

  • The Latest: Irma weakens into a tropical depression

    The Latest: Irma weakens into a tropical depression

    Monday, September 11 2017 3:27 AM EDT2017-09-11 07:27:29 GMT
    Tuesday, September 12 2017 2:42 AM EDT2017-09-12 06:42:09 GMT
    Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.More >>
    Irma weakened to a Category 1 storm as the massive hurricane zeroed in on the Tampa Bay region early Monday after hammering much of Florida with roof-ripping winds, gushing floodwaters and widespread power outages.More >>
  • Where to celebrate Museum Day Live! in SWGA

    Where to celebrate Museum Day Live! in SWGA

    Thursday, September 21 2017 10:47 AM EDT2017-09-21 14:47:21 GMT
    The Thronateeska Heritage Center is one of four locations in SWGA participating (Source: WALB)The Thronateeska Heritage Center is one of four locations in SWGA participating (Source: WALB)

    This weekend, families across the nation have an opportunity to visit some of their favorite museums free - with a Museum Day Live! ticket. 

    More >>

    This weekend, families across the nation have an opportunity to visit some of their favorite museums free - with a Museum Day Live! ticket. 

    More >>
  • Input needed to revitalize Tifton's Matt Wilson area

    Input needed to revitalize Tifton's Matt Wilson area

    Thursday, September 21 2017 10:15 AM EDT2017-09-21 14:15:16 GMT
    Community leaders want to make some improvements to this area known as New Front (Source: WALB)Community leaders want to make some improvements to this area known as New Front (Source: WALB)

    After a successful revitalization of downtown Tifton, community leaders say they're ready to take on a new project. They're now going to focus on the Phillipsburg and Unionville neighborhood near Matt Wilson Elementary School.

    More >>

    After a successful revitalization of downtown Tifton, community leaders say they're ready to take on a new project. They're now going to focus on the Phillipsburg and Unionville neighborhood near Matt Wilson Elementary School.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly