10 May 2010

Cemeteries Targeted By Hatred.

Compiled by Teresa Martin Klaiber 2010

While viewing the destruction of vandalism in a local cemetery a friend reminded me of another horrible destruction in Ohio a few years ago. While never openly discussed, that particular cemetery may have, sadly, been because of antisemitism.

It is hard for me to even put that into words or comprehend any deliberate act to monuments of our loved ones for any reason. Not one person who viewed or volunteered to repair the cemetery in Boyd County ever thought that the vandalism could be a hate crime.

But the conversation reminded me of yet another article among my collection of individual cemeteries in Boyd County, Kentucky. The 3 June 1929 Portsmouth Daily Times ran a small paragraph that left me gasping:

"The Ku Klux Klan, of Boyd County, Kentucky comes into print to deny that it had anything to do, as an organization, with the defacing of tombstones in the Catholic cemetery at Ashland. Probably that is true. But the vicious doctrine of hatred and intolerance preached by the Klan undoubtedly did inspire some deluded and crack-brained follower to commit the sacrilegious act. To that extent the Ku Klux Klan of Boyd County is responsible and must bear its share of the general indignation at the outrageous happening."

I applaud the author for not mincing words. And the recent vandalism may well be drug related giving a new meaning to the word used in 1929 "crack-brained."

Catholicism.org did an article 23 February 2009 about a victim of the Klan in Alabama. The article is well written and talks about the violence that had erupted by 1916 and even cites Kentucky. The article goes on to state that another anti-Catholic party called the True Americans had been formed that allied goals with the Klan.

I was even saddened more when I tried a simple google search for the terms KKK and True Americans because most of the "hits" involved the new Tea Party, strong politics and a hate driven KKK site. Made me wonder if people like Glenn Beck realize how the term "True Americans" was used in the 1920's. I pray our country is not taking steps backward. But this blog is about genealogy, not politics. I am so proud to be American but I shudder and shed tears when I stand in the middle of sacred ground and realize that the ugly act was done by another so called human being.

The Catholic Cemetery in Ashland is also known as Calvary Cemetery. The 1924-25 Ashland City Directory lists it as "The Calvary Cemetery. Roman Catholic, Pollard Rd." A majority of early death certificates simply state "Catholic Cemetery."

Kentucky Attorney General Ben Chandler visited Calvary Catholic Cemetery, as part of the Task Force on Preservation of Kentucky Cemeteries in August 2001. Maintenance workers of Holy Family Church oversee the cemetery. Sadly records maintained at the church were lost in a 1978 fire. Lazear Funeral Home helps the church assign lots and has records, except for the upper hill side from about 1948 forward.

It is a pretty, well kept cemetery on the side of a sloping hill. Standing among the pioneers of Ashland you feel the peace that surrounds the land. So I will tuck the hateful little article back within the depths of my files, putting it to rest. I will continue to look for the good and love within humanity and know that the people of Eastern Kentucky, no matter what faith, color or creed honor their loved ones.

1 comment:

  1. A follow up from the local Ashland Daily. Headlines 29 May 1920 "Vandals Destroy Catholic Tombs...A dastardly Outrage...took place here last night..." Please note there is no mention in the original article of the KKK.

    Ashland Daily 30 May 1920 "Volunteers Work Hard to Restore Cemetery...statement was issued...by the local Ku Klux Klan organization: "In the event that this organization may be in some peoples minds implicated in the dastardly act...on record as ...no sympathy with any one who would stoop so low...We stand ready and willing to aid in every way possible, even in a financial way, to the best of our ability in running down the perpetrators..."