200 year old cemetery in Lauderdale County struck by vandals

The vandals toppled over a 15 foot obelisk in the Rowell family cemetery.

Posted: May 24, 2018 4:12 PM
Updated: May 24, 2018 5:39 PM

Lauderdale County investigators are looking for the vandals who hit a 200 year old cemetery in the Shoals, damaging pieces of history.

The Rowell family cemetery is located off of County Road 2 in Lauderdale County. Investigators said someone knocked over a 15 foot obelisk at the cemetery and damaged a grave.

"This is one of the elite cemeteries at the bend of the river," said George Kakowski, Chairperson of the Lauderdale County Cemetery Board.

Makowski said normally the obelisk at Rowell Cemetery can be seen for miles. He believes someone went to great lengths to bring it down earlier this month

"Your talking about several hundred pounds of limestone, very difficult to move but if you get a purchase on it high up, you could get it to rock and turn over. That seems what happened," said Makowski.

The obelisk was about 130 years old. Makowski and members of the Lauderdale County Cemetery board filed a police report with the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office. Makowski believes the suspects used ropes to topple the obelisk over.

"They pulled it over inside the wall of the cemetery and damaged another small grave of a child," said Makowski.

The Rowell family owned a large plantation in the 1800's. Their family cemetery is a piece of history, and just like all cemeteries in Alabama, are protected by state law.

"There are apparently people who don't respect the history and heritage of a site like that," said Lee Freeman, the historian at the Florence-Lauderdale Public Library.

Freeman is upset about the damage, not just because of the history but for the people buried there.

"It's sacred because human beings are buried there. No matter if I am related to them or not, human beings are buried there. Especially if it was my ancestors I'd be really cheesed off," said Freeman.

Lauderdale County investigators said if they find who did this they could face charges of criminal mischief and desecration of a grave site.

The Lauderdale County Cemetery Board said it hopes to one day repair the obelisk, but don’t have a timeline or funds to fix it yet.

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