Controversy over centuries old cemetery in Barnesville

- A controversy is stirring in Barnesville over a family cemetery which dates back to the 1800s. The city wants to sell off some property which could eventually mean new jobs, but first, the graves sites would need to be moved.

The city of Barnesville has owned this 126 acres of rural land since 1996. It may be hard to tell, but the Wadsworth family Cemetery sits on a hill almost in the center of the property. The city manager said Barnesville wants to relocate the bodies buried there in a public cemetery, and then sell the property to an industrial company at about $10,000 an acre, something which would create jobs in the area. But many residents are appalled at the proposal and believe disturbing a grave is unethical.

“I don't care who was buried there, they need to be left alone. This was their final resting place,” said Penny Hutson

“I personally wouldn't want mine moved or my grandmother's or anybody on my family. I think it is wrong,” said Ashley.

The city said the graves are not marked and it is unclear who is buried there. The last interment, according to Mr. Roberts, was in 1901.

Hutson believed Confederate soldiers involved in a deadly train wreck in 1864 and even slaves may have their final resting place there, but the city said none of that has been confirmed by archeologists hired to survey the land.

“We are asking them to permit us to disinter the graves and relocate them to a City Cemetery, Greenwood, and bestow upon the folks the honor and dignity they deserve,” said Kenny Roberts, Barnesville City Manager.

In a heated county meeting Tuesday night, Lamar County Commissioners voted to table the city's request to disturb the graves until elected officials and even community members are more comfortable with the deal.

“There is no rush. We have owned the land for 20 plus year,” said Roberts.

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