Fight to keep bodies in graves at old cemetery in Butler County

"It's my family," said Webb.
"It's my family," said Webb.
"We've found at least 51-52 graves, and are finding more everyday," said Charlie Smith.
"We've found at least 51-52 graves, and are finding more everyday," said Charlie Smith.

BUTLER COUNTY, MO (KFVS) - It is considered sacred ground, and its future is very uncertain.

An old cemetery just West of Poplar Bluff is right where Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center wants to build a new hospital.

The hospital wants to build on 64 acres of land. That property is currently owned by three different land owners.

Right now, the concern is over one acre of land. On it, is a cemetery dating back to the 1800's.

You won't find Shadle Cemetery unless you are looking for it. It is in a wooded area off P-P Highway outside of Poplar Bluff.

It's a special place for Georgia Webb.

"It's my family," said Webb. "My brother, my sister, my grandmother, my granddad, my great-grandparents, and uncles are all here."

Her great-grandfather was George Washington Shadle, a Civil War veteran. Georgia Webb says there is at least one other Civil War veteran buried there, and a World War I veteran.

The cemetery also has several markers for infants and children.

"We've found at least 51-52 graves, and are finding more everyday," said Charlie Smith.

Smith also has family members buried there. He has been working to find graves in the over growth, and locate markers in a cemetery that has clearly fallen in disrepair.

The concerned family members are preparing for a fight as the hospital looks to build on the land. If that goes through, one plan on the table is to re-locate the cemetery.

"It's just decency to leave it where it is," said Sharon Gingery. "Most of the people were buried in pine coffins which have probably deteriorated. We're told there may not be many bones."

This land is owned by Donald Bedell and family who could not be reached for comment.

Georgia Webb is convinced the cemetery may have been deeded to a local church, which has since split.

She continues to research, and refuses to give up.

"All we can do is keep trying," said Webb.

"I'm all for progress and for the hospital coming, but they need to preserve some stuff," said Smith.

Heartland News reached out to Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center for comment. According to the marketing department, the hospital is not currently involved in the process. It is between the land owner and family members of those buried at the cemetery.

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