BLACK POND - Cemeteries should be peaceful and pleasant final resting places for the deceased. They tell stories of those who came before us and should be respected.
Recent months have shown that vandalism to these places is on the rise. Vandalism in one local cemetery is causing descendants’ ire to rise, too.
Old Oak Grove Cemetery, located on County Road 8 and also known as McCullar Cemetery, has visual evidence that all-terrain vehicles have been driven throughout it. Instead of damaged tombstones being located, multiple stones are completely missing. Nearby residents Josh Tucker and Dawn Carroll, who are two of the caretakers of the cemetery, have noticed the damage.
“This is our family cemetery,” Carroll said. “It’s on our grandfather’s property.”
“They keep riding under the power line on their four-wheelers and keep coming up in here,” Tucker said. “I don’t know why they would want to ride in the graveyard.”
“It’s disheartening,” Carroll continued. “This is someone’s final resting place. There is no need in it. These were mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters...they were someone’s family. They meant something to somebody.
“There was a headstone here,” Carroll pointed to a grave which only had a small footstone but no headstone of any kind.
“It was a good size headstone. Why would they take a headstone? Why?”
Historian Robin Sterling compiled a set of cemetery books for Winston County, published in 2010. His method was to take pictures of the tombstones then compile the data at home. He took photos of all the tombstones at Old Oak Grove on Oct. 13, 2008. By checking them off, five appear to be missing. Those five are P.A. Light, infant daughter of M.J. and Minnie Lovelady, infant daughter of A.J. and S.A. McCullar, infant of J.E. and M.E. Ragsdale and an unknown tombstone labeled as “M.P.” The “M.P.” grave is one with a rock border standing approximately two and a half feet high.
Lightness of some of the rocks alerted Tucker and Carroll on May 9, that some of the rocks had been removed, including the one with the initials on it.
“We have no idea how old it is,” Carroll referred to the grave. “We kept it turned up so it wouldn’t wear with the weather. You can see very clearly where they have removed the stones.”
Old Oak Grove is not the only cemetery to be vandalized recently. The grave of Adline Morgan at Blue Springs Cemetery near Lynn had a type of strap tied around the monument, which was pulled until the tombstone was crooked on its base. This was noticed Dec. 9, 2020. By June 16, the tombstone had been broken off its base, with the strap still on it.
“There is depravity and unimaginable disrespect that some individuals are showing to graves,” Trevia Hood, vice president of the Winston County Genealogical Society said. “There is nothing funny or entertaining about destroying headstones in cemeteries.”
See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.