Descendants, homeowners association in dispute over cemetery

Descendants, homeowners association in dispute over historic cemetery

Posted:
The old cemetery is home to the remains of members of the Click and McLemore families, including a private in the War of 1812. The old cemetery is home to the remains of members of the Click and McLemore families, including a private in the War of 1812.
"Before the gate, we easily had access through the community's private gate. It was always left unlocked since it was a development here," Maynard said. "Before the gate, we easily had access through the community's private gate. It was always left unlocked since it was a development here," Maynard said.
The main access to the graveyard is now a gravel road, which is hard to traverse for some. The main access to the graveyard is now a gravel road, which is hard to traverse for some.
"We can't even take care of our cemetery, because we can't get up here with the equipment we need to take care of it," Pat Gwathney said. "We can't even take care of our cemetery, because we can't get up here with the equipment we need to take care of it," Pat Gwathney said.

By DON DARE
6 On Your Side Consumer Investigator

MADISONVILLE (WATE) - Descendants of the Click and McLemore families in Monroe County are fighting to gain access to a family cemetery that dates back to the 1840s.  

The cemetery, now located on private property, is blocked, leaving family members unable to clean up the place.

"This land here was bought and acquired by my great, great, great grandfather," said Eddie Maynard.

Maynard's family tree goes back 180 years. His great, great, great grandfather Archibald McLemore is buried in what is now known as the Click Family Cemetery.

Henry Jackson Click, Jr., a private in the War of 1812, is buried there, along with other extended family members.

The cemetery is located on property owned by the Clearwater Cove Homeowners Association. The development is a gated community in rural Monroe County.

Access to the cemetery is a gravel road built by the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1970s, but a locked gate stands less than 30 feet from the road to the cemetery entrance.

For more than 70 years, retired school teacher Pat Gwathney, who had a stroke a few years ago, could easily get to the cemetery.

She's both a McLemore and a Click, but now the locked gate forces her to walk up the long gravel road.

"The family has always been able to get up here until they put that gate there," she said.

A sign warns strangers of no trespassing, but one right beside it "welcomes" cemetery visitors.

"I think it is ridiculous that you can't even get to your own family cemetery," she said.

A letter from the HOA written a year ago was sent to Click and McLemore family members. They were told the cemetery is open to them and they're welcomed to visit.

"What he is saying is that they're putting the gate up to keep vandals out and away from their private property and their boat docks," Maynard said.

A second locked gate, this one inside the development, also blocks entrance to the family grave yard.

Beyond the gate there is a storage area and access to the lake. With the gate off the gravel road locked and with no one having access to any keys, Gwathney said sprucing up the family graveyard is impossible.

"We can't even take care of our cemetery, because we can't get up here with the equipment we need to take care of it," she said.

"Before the gate, we easily had access through the community's private gate. It was always left unlocked since it was a development here," Maynard said.

And now?

"They keep it locked," he said.

Maynard was hoping state law would help the family's cause.

Tennessee cemetery law says access to burial grounds cannot be blocked. However, an attorney who examined the site told the family since descendants can walk around the gate, they have access under the law, plus, the sign welcomes visitors.

The homeowners association says the road to the cemetery is private property and that the cemetery property and asphalt around it is owned by the association.

The HOA tells 6 on Your Side the gate has not cut off access to any equipment getting to the cemetery, that the walkway around the gate provides adequate space.

The family and the HOA want to see the cemetery restored.

The question is whether a compromise can be reached over the issue of the gate.


Don Dare's 6 On Your Side reports can be seen every Monday and Wednesday on 6 News at 5:00.

If you have a consumer issue, call the 6 On Your Side Hotline at 865-633-5974 or email ddare@wate.com.

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