Mystery over disturbed graves at historic cemetery

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by Tim Wetzel / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 19, 2014 at 8:24 PM

HOUSTON -- Family members whose ancestors are buried in a cemetery off Church Road in East Houston are worried their loved one's graves could be desecrated.

The Bradshaw Family Cemetery is a historic African American cemetery that dates back to the 1800s; family members said there are slaves and soldiers buried there.

Many of the grave sites are covered by brush and are unmarked.

Recently, someone started clearing land at the cemetery and possibly disturbed unmarked graves.

"Everybody is hurt to see part of our cemetery disrupted," said Millie Perkins. "My great grandmother could be on this side."

It's not clear who disturbed the property or who exactly owns the land.

The family members believe they own the property, but realtor Richard Williamson believes his client owns the land and has recently listed it for sale.

"The deeds were never recorded," said Williamson.

Williamson said it is possible another family member sold the property long ago but never legally documented it.

While the ownership is sorted out, he said the property is off the market.

"Until we get to the bottom of it, we'll keep working on the title," said Williamson.

Regardless of who owns the property, Texas law prohibits developers from disturbing grave sites. If a grave is found, developers must get permission from family before moving a body.

”We are asking the state of Texas to get involved with their experts who know how to designate historical graveyards the correct way," said community activist Quanell X.

The Harris County Historical Commission said the Bradshaw Family Cemetery is a documented African American historic burial ground.

But they said it's up to families to mark and maintain them; they can apply for a Texas state historical marker to help protect the cemetery.

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