Henderson County, Kentucky
Submitted by Linda Hicks Hallmark
The following information was obtained from:
TWO CLASSES OF CEMETERIES - The first class includes
organized cemeteries that sell lots and operate for a profit with a
paid staff. This class is subject to all Kentucky laws regarding organizations
and businesses, as well as laws specific to cemeteries.
One can get affidavit forms with which a cemetery may be registered with the Attorney General's office. While this registration does not provide any special protection other than general laws on cemeteries. It does provide status as an officially listed and registered cemetery. This registration will be helpful if you ever need to go to court about the cemetery. You may also want to supply, along with the affidavit, supporting documentation, such as a map, a plat and photographs. Most cemeteries which family researchers are concerned about finding and preserving would fall in the "exempt" class.
MOVING BURIALS - An Attorney General's opinion
on what property owners must do if he has an abandoned cemetery on his
land which he wants to remove and relocate. If the cemetery is in an
incorporated city, the procedure is through the city government. Probably
most of the cemeteries with which researchers and descendants are concerned
are outside of cities. If the property is not in a city, the landowner
must apply to the Fiscal Court for permission to move the cemetery.
Or, the Fiscal Court may authorize the removal on its own volition,
if it is in the best interest of the county.
PROTECTING OLD CEMETERIES - What is the public's right to prevent someone from arbitrarily bulldozing down the monuments and destroying the cemetery? The Attorney General's opinion says: "Clearly, in Kentucky, the next of kin to persons buried in a cemetery have a right to preserve the cemetery, which the courts recognize and protect. A recovery may be had by the next of kin or the surviving spouse for an unwarranted interference with the grave of a deceased, or for the infliction of an injury to a corpse, if either be done - a) maliciously; b) or by gross negligence; c) or wantonly, i.e. with a reckless disregard for the rights of another, or; d) for an unlawful or secret disinterment or displacement thereof, or; e) an action of trespass , or; f) for the removal of a body from one grave to another by those in authority and control of the cemetery or burial ground, without notice, or an opportunity without notice, or an opportunity to him who is entitled by law to be present, if he desires, before its removal."
(The term "next of kin", is defined as "those who inherit from the deceased, the fee, interest or easement and the soil containing the dead body".) Next of kin have the right to preserve the cemetery even though they are not owners of the land where the cemetery is located.
Anyone interested in preserving a family or church cemetery in Kentucky should: (1) Consider getting the cemetery as an exempt cemetery. (2) Report to the Consumer Protection Division in the Attorney General's Office any indication of violations of the laws described above. In case of a dispute over cemetery rights the Attorney General's Office - if requested - will attempt to achieve a settlement of the case through mediation, without going to court.
PLEASE NOTE: All of the above applies specifically
to cemeteries in KENTUCKY. Readers working with cemeteries located in
other states should check the laws and regulations in the state in which
they are working.
Copyright 2002 Leigh Ann Boucher/Netta Mullin, HCH&GS