Families Locked Out Of Middle Tennessee Cemetery

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Photo: Video by NewsChannel5.com

Families Locked Out Of Middle Tennessee Cemetery

CREATED Apr 15, 2014

KINGSTON SPRINGS, Tenn. - For more than 150 years it has been the final resting place for members of a handful of Cheatham County families, but one day those families say they were literally locked out.  

Tucked away in a wooded area of Cheatham County is a place called Bell Town, in Kingston Springs. You will find the roots of many families here. Both Ronnie Daniel and Vicky Primm have family members buried at Bell Town Cemetery.   

Video from Sky 5HD showed the headstones placed on many of the nearly 50 gravesites in the cemetery.  

"There's a grave marker that has 1870 something that you can see," said Daniel.  

Since the 1800's, families in the area, mostly African American, have been buried in Bell Town Cemetery. Up until the early 2000's, family members say they could visit as often as they pleased.  

"Probably four or five years or so; people may have seen the signs and just decided to stay away," said Daniel.  

One of those signs reads, "No Trespassing, Violators will be shot, survivors will be shot again."  

"It's been a little disappointing that you have to go through certain lengths to be able to go back and visit your loved ones and keep the upkeep of the Bell Town Cemetery," said Primm.  

The reason families members can't get past the gates, the entire cemetery is surrounded by someone else's property. There is no access from any side.  

The Cheatham County Property assessor confirms the surrounding land is owned by someone else and by law, that landowner has the right to keep people off of his property.  

The families have tried to contact the owner, with no success. They don't want to damage the land - just have access to their roots.  

"For individuals who have family members back there, to be able to go back there and pay respects to their previously passed history," said Daniel.  

NewsChannel 5 reached out to the owner of the property, visiting the address the property assessor has on file. We were told the owner does not live there, but my information would be passed along.  

According to the Cheatham County Property Assessor's office, the cemetery is owned by Bell Town Cemetery; no name listed on the records, just an address.

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