Vandals Hit Old Harrisburg Cemetery

HARRISBURG (KAIT) A cemetery should be a place of peace and quiet. A place where loved ones can be remembered.

But now vandals have attacked one of the oldest cemeteries in Region 8.

A headstone stands as a monument to those who have gone before. And the question is why would somebody want to tear them up?

Charles Nix, "It's just beyond my imagination that anyone would get any enjoyment out of going into a cemetery and pushing over tombstones or markers. I fail to see why."

The old Harrisburg Cemetery sits atop Crowleys Ridge. The aging tombstones carved with names and dates, some so old as to be barely readable.

Nix, "If you go up there and look a lot of those markers are the early history of Harrisburg. A lot of the early settlers and folks who moved into this area there's a lot of those folks who are buried in that cemetery."

Around the middle of July vandals struck at the old headstones either breaking them or toppling them. Ironically the person who surveyed the 10 acres the Rev. John M. Steele had his marker toppled.

It may not seem difficult to topple a headstone but Bryan Sutterfield owner of the Jonesboro Monument company says it can be.

Sutterfield, "Well it would take a pretty gallant effort. It's not going to be something that you can go out and lean against like I'm doing here. It's going to take some effort to knock it over."

Sutterfield says that the glue holding the stones together does not readily wear out even after many years.

"It's pretty permanent stuff. It could at some point come loose but it's common for it to do so."

The cemetery is maintained by the Methodist Church in Harrisburg and it was their caretaker that discovered the damage.

The cemetery is still open although it is not used as much as once was.

Nix, "Maybe last year there might have been 4 or 5 internments there. But there is no cost to anyone who wants to be buried in the cemetery."

However will be a cost to restore the toppled and damaged headstones. And it will not be an easy task to restore them.

Sutterfield, "Probably have to be scraped and cleaned a little acid used on them and send a couple of men and a truck and some work and put them back together."

The police are still looking into this matter and the stones still lie on the ground. Years of honoring the deceased reduced to a few minutes of vandalism.

The Methodist church is posting a reward for the arrest of the responsible parties.

If you have any information call the Harrisburg police at 578-2530