Descendants of cemetery occupants met to discuss irregularities
By DON DARE 6 News Reporter
LAFOLLETTE (WATE) - Descendents of people buried in an old TVA cemetery in Campbell County met for the first time Tuesday night to air out concerns about irregularities, namely concerns that some of the deceased have been buried on top of others.
Baker's Forge Memorial Cemetery is in the Demory community, southeast of LaFollette. Many who attended Tuesday's meeting were upset at the cemetery's operation.
Those like Ann Dove Sharp claimed her grandfather's cemetery plot at Baker's Forge, which was established as a TVA reinternment cemetery in 1934, was sold several times before it was relisted in her family's name.
Originally, three churches set up a perpetual care fund with the hope of maintaining the cemetery. Recently, however, a new committee took control of the $300,000 fund after wrestling it away from those churches' deacons.
"Some of the members have been told that they're not fit to be on the committee," Joe Stephens said, who has family members buried at Baker's Forge.
Cemetery caretaker Eddie Taylor told 6 News in October there are new graves on top of old ones. He spoke of a man named Albert Cooper, who Taylor believes was buried on top of somebody else. Taylor cited TVA records for his claim.
"There are two original TVA graves here already," Taylor said, pointing at Cooper's grave site and documents.
Cooper's daughter, Ernestine, said she had no clue that her father was buried on top of other deceased individuals.
"He died 26 years ago on Veteran's Day," she said. "We didn't know there was someone underneath him until now."
Last month, Bobby Housley, who leads the new committee at Baker's Forge, said new rules have been established for the cemetery, and those in charge are keeping watch on the hundreds of thousands of dollars in the cemetery's perpetual fund.
"The churches already got out of it," Housley said last month. "We got new bylaws written up."
Attendees of Tuesday's meeting, like Sharp, feel this is only the beginning.
"I think they need to get an attorney," she said. "There is an investigator looking into this, but I think they need to get an attorney."