Family members concerned about cemetery conditions in Tanner

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TANNER, Ala. - Oakland Cemetery, located in Limestone County, is a historically Black cemetery. Someone was just laid to rest on the land on Saturday and their family says their loved ones are lying in a place that is in terrible shape.

They said it was once a sacred place, but recently things have gone awry.

"I'm saddened by the fact that our loved ones have been treated with such disrespect," said Meagan Troupe who has family members buried in the cemetery.

Troupe and her cousin Brenda Sales said what they found when they arrived to bury their aunt was shocking.

"It's tree stumps, some of the tombstones have been knocked over. There's grass that is waist high. It's probably reptiles and things of that nature out there," Troupe explained.

The Limestone County Commissioner over this district says with cemeteries like this one, anyone can request a plot to be dug by the county.

"We have at least three to four generations of people that have been buried out there," Troupe added.

The county probate judge's office says many of these older cemeteries don't have land records. That makes it very difficult to determine who's in charge of maintaining the land

"There's other people who have loved ones out there that might not know that this has occurred. So we just want to get something done about it," said Troupe.

But Meagan and Brenda said it's going to take more than just the two of them to restore the site.

"Anybody who has any type of equipment that can move logs, weed-eaters, whatever that it may be, that it's going to take. We need everybody to come out and support us in this," Troupe added.

They said at the end of the day, they just want to restore the land's beauty.

"I'm going to love them until I join them. And I'd like my grave, my resting place to be taken care of," said Brenda Sales.

The owners of the cemetery reached out to WHNT News 19's Dallas Parker following seeing this story on air.

As it turns out Mt. Zion #30 Masonic Lodge owns Oakland Cemetery and has for several decades.

Members of the lodge have provided burial plots to members of the community at no cost.

Within the past few months, the member of the lodge who handled the heavy machinery at the cemetery fell ill and couldn't continue keeping the grounds.

That member was recently released from the hospital.

The lodge assured WHNT News 19 that it plans to continue trying to restore the land soon.

The good news is, after seeing the story on air, several members of the community have volunteered their time and services to help get things back on track.

To find out how you can help, email WHNT News 19's Dallas Parker: Dallas.Parker@whnt.com

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