Keep Out! Loved Ones Told Cemetery Is Off Limits

New owners sue to bar visitors but will allow exhumations
By Linda Hervieux,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2016 10:05 AM CDT
Stock image.   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – It’s not every day that a cemetery goes up for sale. And what do you do with one? For the new owners of a tiny graveyard in Caernarvon Township, Pennsylvania, that meant planting "Private Property” signs to bar visitors, the Reading Eagle reports. The owners filed a lawsuit this week asking a Berks County judge to enforce the order at Rock Cemetery. Paul and Jean Dovin bought the small parcel at auction in 2010; distraught family members say that three years later, the Dolvins announced plots purchased from the previous owner (which the Dolvins contend were sold improperly due to the lack of the necessary license) were no longer valid, and that no new burials would occur. In 2014, "No Trespassing" signs sprouted up and visitors were warned that police would be called on them.

The sole exception: Relatives may come on the land to exhume a body and take it elsewhere. "It just makes me sick to my stomach," Hazel Hamm tells WFMZ. Her husband Doug is buried there and, she said, "I want to be buried beside him, and I think I have a right to be.” Every Sunday, Barbara Miller used to visit the grave of her son Ricky, who died at age 3 in 1980. "I don't think I can go through all that again," Miller tells Reading Eagle. "What's wrong with these people?" The Dovins contend they had no idea the “old cemetery” they bought for $85,000 was still in use because the advertisement for the public auction never mentioned it, according to the lawsuit. Their lawyers have refused comment. (Read more Rock Cemetery stories.)

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