Cemetery Uprooted To Make Way For Shopping Center

December 1, 2009
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image Chattanooga, TN – Dozens of graves are uprooted to make way for a retail shopping center. We started receiving phone calls from viewers several weeks ago about a construction site on the corner of Mountain View and Snow Hill Roads in Ooltewah. We’ve been told the site has overtaken a cemetery that had graves dating back hundreds of years.

Court records show the contractors are well within their legal rights to be moving this cemetery. But some people who live in the area say that just because it’s legal, doesn’t make it right.

“I don’t think that they have any respect for the dead. I just wondered if their ancestors were buried in that cemetery then how would they feel about it,” Randolph Sticher, who has lived in the area his entire life, says.

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Sticher discovered the Wells Cemetery earlier this year. The self proclaimed historian took pictures of dozens of gravesites, some of which he says dated back to 1790. But his pictures offer a stark contrast to the construction site we found on the property on Monday.

We found uprooted gravesites where the Wells Cemetery used to be located. We also found a large black tarp about 200 or 300 yards away from where the actual construction is taking place. When we looked underneath we found an assortment of tombstones including one headstone that read “died in 1873.”

“I think we’ve lost a big part of our history of Ooltewah,” Sticher says.

On Monday NewsChannel 9 reporter Will Carr obtained a Judgement Order filed in Hamilton County’s Chancery Court.

The Order states the Shops At Mill Run General Partnership wanted to remove human remains from Wells Cemetery, relocate the remains to a suitable location nearby, and stop using certain parts of the property as a burial ground. The order states a Chancellor granted the request after public notices were posted in the Chattanooga Times Free Press and no one objected.

But while the legal path has been constructed to move the cemetery, Sticher says he’s not ready to bury the issue.

“I think it’s a disgrace that somebody would dig up a cemetery just to build a financial building of sometime to make money,” Sticher says.

We spoke with one of the contractor’s attorneys in Nashville on Mondaynight by phone. Charles Sanger, with Bradley, Arant, Boult and Cummings, tells us they are in the process of relocating the remains, headstones, and the entire cemetery to a separate place on the property.

Source: News Channel 9

Writer: Will Carr

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