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A Cemetery Sensation

New Castle Democrat
31 Mar 1899

Remains of Doctor Darr Taken From his Lot, Which is Then Sold to Another.

      South Mound cemetery has been the principle topic of conversation about town the past week. The cause of this unpleasant subject coming to the front was the taking up and moving the remains of Dr. John Darr. Dr. John Darr and family, who have been buried there from ten to thirty years. Two weeks ago a gentleman whose household death had visited went to the cemetery to buy a lot. Seeing a location to his liking he promptly bought the lot. When the sexton went to dig the grave he was surprised to find the lot already occupied, but was told to proceed. The grave was finished and the remains of the one recently passed away were buried. The remains of the former occupants, for there were several, were transferred to Potter's field.
     The investigation proved that the bones so ruthlessly disturbed were those of Dr. Darr and his family, who forty years ago were as well and favorably known here as is any family of New Castle today. When the news became known it produced a sensation. Everybody was anxious to know the particulars and to find out whether the pretty cemetery is in truth a place to be "laid to rest" or simply a dumping ground or mere bone yard. All of us expect sooner or later to be owners of six feet of sod in that quite city and it is not a pleasant sensation to feel that our bones may be dumped into potter's field at anytime for non-payment of cemetery assessment. This was exactly the fate meted out to the remains of Dr. Darr whose surviving family and relatives have been away from New Castle more than thirty years.
     Forty years ago South Mound cemetery was laid out, the late Dr, Darr being one of the first lot owners. He bought a lot for which he paid $40.00 and received a warranty deed. So did scores of others. In 1897 a reorganization was effected by the election of several directors who have since controlled the burying grounds. Additional ground was purchased of one of the directors for two or three prices which left the association $1,800 in debt. An assessment of one dollar on each lot was ordered to pay the cost of maintaining the grounds and paying interest and principle if possible. If this annual tax was not paid, the directors had the right to advertise the lot for sale. This right was given by an iniquitous statute that in some way passed the legislature. So that in this way they had not exceeded their power. But the law does not give anybody the right to disinter the remains of a deceased person without permission of the living representatives. A heavy penalty is provided for violation. This is where the secretary, who has had almost the sole management, made this serious error. Of course nobody would think of prosecuting, as Mr. Mikels would not knowingly commit a criminal act. The mistake will be rectified at once by replacing Dr. Darr's remains in their rightful place and to moving to another lot those that were last buried there. This should end a disagreeable episode.
     This affair should accomplish some good. The town has the right and should lose no time in making South Mound cemetery the property of the corporation to be maintained the same as anything else from the public funds. An annual tax of one mill on the $100 valuation would easily answer all purposes. Moreover it would forever stop the assessment of cemetery lots. There is now an opportunity to remedy this defect and make impossible a repetition of this unpleasant and much regretted affair.

Follow up 1 Apr 1899
New Castle Democrat

      The graveyard (Southmound) agitation has finally assumed definite form and it begins to look like some good may yet result. At the meeting of the G. A. R. last Saturday night a committee of three was appointed and a resolution was adopted requesting other organizations to name like committees. These committees are to confer and agree on some plan for managing the cemetery. It is likely that the present board of directors will resign as there is no salary or other emolument attached to the officers, excepting the secretary, who is paid $25.00 a year,
     The only correct plan is to have the cemetery owned by the city, although the direct management may be vested in a board selected from the G. A. R. or some similar organization. There is a mistaken idea that the indebtedness of the association would prevent this. The city would simply take the property and assume the indebtedness. The debt could easily be liquated by the sale of lots. Any plan that contemplates management by directors or lot owners will result in a condition of affairs similar to that now existing.

2001 UEB

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