Richmond Police may adopt historic cemetery

The Martin Family Cemetery, mostly forgotten at the end of West Lexington Street, may have found some new friends.
Richmond Police Chief Terri McWilliams announced last week that the Richmond Policemen’s Association might adopt the cemetery for its upkeep.
The cemetery has drawn some interest lately after a trash truck allegedly hit the wall last May leaving debris from the rock wall surrounding the cemetery in the street. The cemetery sits in the middle of where West Lexington Street dead-ends.
McWilliams said the department took interest because it was believed that a former sheriff was buried in the cemetery, but it has been discovered since that he is not according to McWilliams. Nevertheless, she said the department still wants to help.
“What we’re trying to determine here in our department is, ‘Can we handle it?’” she said. “We’re bouncing it off of people here to see if we can take care of it.”
McWilliams said she is confident the department will be able to handle it once the rock wall is repaired. McWilliams said she might want to leave that job up to someone else.
“I’m willing to try anything but I’m afraid I would get it up, and the next day it would fall back down again,” she joked. “If we can get that part done we would be ready to go.”
McWilliams said once the wall is fixed the department will help with the mowing and maintenance of the cemetery.
It is also believed that many more graves exist underneath the roadway around the cemetery. Ray County Museum Curator Karen Bush said that from the research that has been done, it appears the first road through the area was constructed in 1892. She said many believe that some graves were just plowed over.
The rock wall that surrounds the cemetery was constructed about 15 years ago, but it has been said before that, sometimes people drove through the cemetery. In a Daily News story last year, a news story from the 1960s was reported where a group of Boy Scouts cleaned up the cemetery and found head stones knocked over.
McWilliams said she would contact some metro area police departments about the possibility of bringing a cadaver dog to the cemetery to try to locate some graves. She said the city is also looking for anyone who can help repair the wall.
City Administrator Rick Childers said last week that it couldn’t be determined who actually owns the cemetery. He said according to city plats the cemetery is its own plat and is probably the ownership of Martin family heirs.
Childers said the city is working with the State Historical Preservation Society for some direction on fixing the wall.

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