Dorothy Lingar couldn’t believe what she saw — a bulldozer shoving family graves, both marked and unmarked, over a hill.
Lingar and other family members were upset last week when the bulldozer, contracted to Vinland Energy of London, Ky., plowed through a family cemetery near Fourmile, in southeastern Kentucky.
“We have never went through anything like this. We’re shocked,” said Lingar, as she recalled walking through the family cemetery as a child. “That’s our history, our flesh and blood, and we are upset. These were good people and they don’t deserve to be treated this way.”
The incident happened May 5, as the bulldozer cleared land for a Vinland project in the area. Vinland Energy Vice President of Operations Scott Gilbert told the Middlesboro Daily
the company is aware of what happened at the cemetery.
“We’re sorry that we disturbed it,” Gilbert said. “We’re going to do what we can.”
But, for Lingar and Bill Dun, a Middlesboro resident with family buried in the cemetery, the destruction of the graves is distressing.
Dunn saw the bulldozer as he rode a four-wheeler near the cemetery, in the Dew-Well Hollow, and realized what was happening. After approaching the bulldozer operator, Dunn said, the work stopped immediately.
“He was real remorseful,” Dunn said. “Everyone that I’ve talked with so far has been sympathetic.”
Gilbert said the company had no idea that the cemetery was there and pointed to maps of Bell County, which don’t list the graveyard. Gilbert also said the company checks with local officials before working.
“It wasn’t on a map,” Gilbert said. “Who in their right mind’s going to disturb a cemetery?”
Lingar, with a greatgrandfather, Pleasant “Pleas” Elliott, buried on the property, and Dunn said someone should have noticed the graves.
“I mean whoever walked up there and tied that survey ribbon had to see it,” Dunn said. “We just want the site cleaned up, so we can see how many graves there is… And hopefully, they will recreate the cemetery because this is part of our history.”