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JACKSBORO, Tenn. (CN) - A Tennessee cemetery fired two gravediggers for refusing to disinter black corpses so the cemetery could sell the plots and fill them with white bodies, the men claim in court.
Source: Courthouse News
The Taylors claim they were instructed to disinter bodies - which is a felony in Tennessee - but refused, and were fired for it.
"For example, plaintiffs were directed to desecrate and disinter the grave of Jennie Irwin Baker, Grave no. 240-145, in order to bury Alvis Buck Cantrell next to his wife, who had previously been buried in Grave No. 240-144 on top of Geo. W. Baker, according to the permanent records of the cemetery," the complaint states.
"In addition, the permanent records of the cemetery contain two pages designated as the 'colored section (Negro).'
''Once the lease runs out, if the family or descendants don't re-buy it, cemeteries can do what is called a lift and deepen. They can dig the grave again, remove the bones and place them in an ossuary or the bottom of the grave and they can re-sell the grave to a new family,''
In most of the rest of the world, a perpetual right to a burial plot is rare. Iserson writes:
Most European graves have long been considered temporary. In medieval Europe, for example, the poor were buried in vast common graves, the fosses aux pauvres. When one pit was full, it was covered with earth and an old pit reopened. The bones from the latter were taken to the charnel house and it was reused for new bodies. Even the wealthy, originally buried under flagstones inside the church, were eventually disinterred and sent to the charnel house. . . . Although the practice of reusing graves was banned elsewhere in Europe during the eighteenth century, it continued in Britanny, Naples and Rome. Through the nineteenth century in Breton, France, gravediggers continued to remove the bones from graves after five years.
Originally posted by katyehh
Well that's surprising. I didn't know you could only "lease" a plot up to 99 years.
Is there any more information as to how old the previous graves were that the men were asked to reuse?
Because then that could cause some controversy as to why they were fired.
Baker Jennie Irwin
Death Date: 1893
Baker George W.
Birth Date: 1858
Death Date: 1899