Much of the fence is missing at a historic Fort Worth cemetery, prompting a Fort Worth religious leader to consider increased security.
Pastor Bruce Datcher of Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church said in late April that maintenance crews found about 300 feet of fencing missing from Handley Hill Cemetery along Arkansas Lane. The cemetery is the resting place for more than 260 grave sites, according to Bruce Datcher.
“In this cemetery, we have World War II veterans. We have slaves. We have some of the early founders,” Pastor Datcher said. “It’s rather sad, someone to disturb such a historic resting place for so many people.
On Tuesday, a Fort Worth Police Department East Division commander met with Pastor Datcher at the cemetery. Fort Worth police confirmed Tuesday that they have been contacted about the missing fence. Although no official police report has been 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.
Eastern Division Commander Monica Martin visited the site Tuesday with Datcher.
“We always ask that when the public sees anything out of the ordinary, please contact us. The police cannot be everywhere at once. We really need the community to tell us what’s going on in your neighborhood, so we know how to help you,” Sgt. said Heise. “We’re always looking at our resources and how to distribute them across the city, so we need to know what’s going on in your neighborhood so we know how we can help you.”
The cemetery, owned by the Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, is over 100 years old. The fence was paid for by several community partners in 2008, Datcher said. Around the same time, brick columns and a gazebo were also added.
While the church has worked to protect and preserve the cemetery, Datcher said he has had security issues.
“The chain-link fence doesn’t work. Other fences would not work,” he said. “Over the years, we’ve had challenges with different organizations. Cults performing rituals. I think part of the problem may be the location of the cemetery, how isolated it is by lots of woods.
Datcher said it would take a financial investment to replace the missing parts of the fence, but his first priority is safety.
“Before replacing it, we are going to have to deter theft. We don’t want to replace it and someone comes back and takes it back,” he said.
According to Datcher, there are 266 burial sites at the cemetery.