Are graves dug on top of graves in Campbell cemetery?

Investigation: Are graves dug on top of graves in Campbell cemetery?

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Baker's Forge Memorial Cemetery was established in 1934 as a TVA re-interment cemetery. Baker's Forge Memorial Cemetery was established in 1934 as a TVA re-interment cemetery.
Nina Brantley is one of those who is upset with how the cemetery is managed. Nina Brantley is one of those who is upset with how the cemetery is managed.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

LaFOLLETTE (WATE) - Cemeteries are supposed to be hallowed ground, but in Campbell County Sheriff Robbie Goins is looking into allegations of misconduct by managers of a cemetery.

The accusations include burying people on top of one another and double-selling lots.

Several people called 6 On Your Side about the allegations. One of the cemetery managers claims the allegations are false.

In the early 1930s, Norris Dam was the first big Tennessee Valley Authority project and resulted in a huge reservoir.

As a result, entire communities in Anderson, Union, and Campbell counties were submerged under water. It is said that TVA "scattered the living and raised the dead."

Baker's Forge Memorial Cemetery was established in 1934 as a TVA re-interment cemetery. Responsibility for upkeep fell on family members. It was expensive.

By the 1970s, a perpetual care fund was set up by three churches. Recently, however, control over the fund was wrestled away from the church deacons.

Some people are now disgusted with what current cemetery managers are doing.

"This is my sister, Jerene Cox," said Nina Brantley, pointing to where her sister is buried in Baker's Forge Memorial Cemetery.

Brantley is one of those who is upset.

She says when her older sister died 56 years ago. Their father bought eight cemetery plots for $50 each at the cemetery.

To prove her point, Brantley pointed out cornerstones with the initial "C" for Cox. The stones outline the large grave site, where eventually other family members would be buried.

"This is my mother, Ollie Nelson, and my dad, Charlie Nelson," she said, pointing to where they are buried.

When Mrs. Brantley's mother was killed in a car wreck the family was distraught.

She says one of the cemetery managers pressured her father into re-purchasing their grave sites.

"Bobby Housley made us all go together and pay for the three plots here," she noted, even though the plots had already been purchased back in 1956.

"We had to pay $350 a plot for these," she said.

Brantley says her grieving family didn't argue. They paid the money.

Records of the burial plots are housed in a building on the Baker's Forge property.

6 On Your Side discovered some of the gravestones in the cemetery are unmarked.

Ownership records for Nina Brantley's family were never given to her father after her sister died in 1956, she says. She claims record keeping is sloppy.

She suspects there is funny business going on. What really raises her ire, she says, is when Bobby Housley returned some years ago demanding even more money.

"He told me to go see the rest of my brothers and sisters and see if any one of them wanted to finish purchasing this lot," she said.

"There are two original TVA graves here already, or there was," said Eddie Taylor, who says new graves were dug on top of old ones.

Taylor says he has seen old TVA records showing when Albert Cooper died, the man was buried where someone else had already been buried on the site.

Taylor has been the cemetery's caretaker for 16 years.

"Albert would be right here," Taylor said. "And he is already on top of somebody. There is already a TVA grave under him."

Taylor says he and others have been told "not to dig too deep."

"Stanley (Hatmaker) is already buried here, and even though they bought a 20-by-20 lot, the rest of the lot is full of unmarked graves," Taylor said. "This is the place where they told us to dig shallow too." 

"Eddie Taylor is a damn troublemaker," Bobby Housley said about the caretaker.

When asked about the accusation of graves being dug on top of graves, Taylor said, "That's a lie."

Housley and six others now manage Baker's Forge. He claims Taylor is not a trusted employee.

6 On Your Side asked about the churches that are supposed to overlook the cemetery's perpetual fund.

Housley says his committee is doing that now.

"The churches already got out of it," he said. "We got new bylaws written up."

What about the issue of double-selling lots. like Mrs. Brantley claims has gone on?

"Not to my knowledge," was Housley's answer. 

"Nobody has ever double sold a lot, and you can take that off my face," he said, pointing to the 6 On Your Side camera, "or I'll go back in the house."

"He's such a bully," Mrs. Brantley said about Housley. "Nobody will override him."

The sheriff's department says information similar to what was uncovered by 6 On Your Side and what the department has investigated may soon go before the Campbell County Grand Jury to determine what happens next.

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