Fencing for Historic Texas Cemetery Goes Missing – NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

2022-05-20 23:13:28 By : Ms. Jerry Weng

A large portion of fencing is missing from a historic Fort Worth cemetery, prompting a Fort Worth faith leader to look at increased security.

Pastor Bruce Datcher with the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church said in late April, maintenance crews discovered about 300 feet of fencing was gone from the Handley Hill cemetery located along Arkansas Lane. The cemetery is the resting place for more than 260 burial sites, according to Bruce Datcher.  

“In this cemetery, we have WWII veterans. We have slaves. We have some of the early founders,” Pastor Datcher said. “It’s rather sad, someone to disturb such a historical resting place for so many.

On Tuesday, a commander with the Fort Worth Police Department’s East division met with Pastor Datcher at the cemetery. Fort Worth police confirmed Tuesday that they were contacted about the missing fencing. Though a formal police report was not filed, department spokesperson Sgt. Amy Heise said the East Division commander is working with Datcher on what can be done to make the area safer.

Commander Monica Martin with the East Division visited the site on Tuesday with Datcher.

“We always ask that when the public sees something out of the ordinary, please contact us. Police can’t be everywhere all at once. We really need the community telling us what’s going on in your neighborhood, so we know how to help,” Sgt. Heise said. “We are always looking at our resources and how to allocate them throughout the city, so we need to know what’s going on in your neighborhood so we know how we can help.”

The cemetery, owned by Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, is more than 100 years old. The fence was paid for by several community partners in 2008, Datcher said. Around that same time, brick columns and a gazebo were also added.

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While the church has labored to protect and preserve the cemetery, Datcher said they have had challenges with security.

“The chain-linked fence doesn’t work. Other fences wouldn’t work,” he said. “Through the years, we’ve had challenges with different organizations. Cults performing rituals. I think maybe part of the issue is because of the cemetery sits, how it’s secluded by a lot of woods.”

Datcher said it will take a financial investment to replace the missing portions of the fence, but his first priority is security.

“Before we replace it, we’re going to have to deter the theft. We don’t want to replace it and somebody comes back and take it again,” he said.

According to Datcher, there are 266 burial sites at the cemetery.