Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Cemetery Question

The Home News, June 16, 1860

Mr. Editor – By a notice in a Marietta paper some time since, I learned that the Council of the city of Marietta contemplates making a purchase of land for a new cemetery. Is it true, that the “city fathers” have refused to permit any further use of the unoccupied front on Fifth street, of the burying ground in this city, for burial purposes? I hear it reported, and from good authority, that it is so. Is it a fixed fact?

It is said that this front will be reserved and probably at no distant period of time, will be sold out by the town authorities, for building lots? Oh shame, where is thy blush! Can it be possible, that the Town Council of Marietta, if they had the necessary legal authority, would attempt to divert to any other purpose, those beautiful grounds which were given to the town many years ago, by gen. Rufus Putnam, not for speculation, but expressly for a burying place, and for no other purpose? Would a measure of this character be in accordance with the intention of the donor? Would such a sordid act, for greed of gain, on the part of the town, be in good faith, were he living? Why should the recipients of his bounty undertake to thwart his benevolent purpose, now he is dead, by the perversion of his sacred trust? Can the city oracles answer satisfactorily? Will they?

I deny the legal right of the town to convert those grounds to any other use than a burial place. And had the Council the right, many of the better class of citizens would be exceedingly annoyed at seeing the front of this sacred spot, for such I hold it to be, flanked up to the line now occupied by family burying lots, with stables and other back buildings necessarily connected with dwellings. If they have the power, legally, or otherwise, to sell any part of these grounds, then they have the power (after providing another place for burying the dead,) to sell out the whole, and the citizens may, if they choose, remove the remains of their departed friends, or leave them to sink into oblivion beneath the unhallowed tread of the thoughtless or ambitious occupant.

Yes, Mr. Editor, “the land would be valuable for building lots,” and that beautiful mound, Conus, would at least be as valuable as Sacra via, the covert way, which I understand is being sold at five cents per yard. Is it so? Strangers who visit Marietta admire these ancient works, and often describe them in a public way, as monuments of an ancient race whose history has long since been buried with their homes. But I fear curious mementoes of their greatness will also soon have departed, leaving history only to tell of their former existence.

The question before the people is, the expediency of the preservation or destruction, of those interesting ancient works, generally, and particularly the mound and cemetery grounds, the gift of one of our most honored and illustrious pioneers. Citizens of Marietta, who are not so selfish as to be entirely under the power of the “almighty dollar,” and who are disposed to preserve, should awake to their duty, and frown down the spirit of domination of the destructives, at the ballot box, by the election of Councilmen who are ready and willing, to commit themselves on this important question – men who will faithfully carry out their principles. Will they do it? We shall see.


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