Cemetery Dug Up, Moved Without Informing Family

Posted at 4:59 PM, Mar 31, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-31 18:06:56-04

An old family cemetery was dug up and moved, and the family never even knew about it.

The Rains were some of the first settlers in Davidson County, and now they're resting in Mt. Olivet Cemetery because the old family cemetery has been turned into a parking lot.

Not one family member or the historical commission knew it happened, but it was all done legally.

For generations, the Rains family cemetery sat just off Nolensville Pike, but over the years businesses built up around it and at times the cemetery was left alone.

That was until the Metro Historical Commission in conjunction with the Rains family hired an archeologist to restore the property in 2016.

It took two months, but every grave marker and tombstone was restored. The project was completed in September. “We had worked so hard to restore it and find somebody to take care of the grass,” said Dan Allen, an archeologist who restored the Rains Cemetery.  

However, within a few months, word began to spread the cemetery was no longer there. That was because a court order, specifically a doctrine of adverse possession, gave the cemetery property to the adjacent property owner.

Now what used to be a historic cemetery from the 1800's has become a paved parking lot.

"I think there needs to be a change in the state law.  There needs to be more," said Dan Allen. "A project such as this one should've been monitored."

Right now, no one has had knowledge of who moved the graves or if they all made it to the Mt. Olivet Cemetery, but some said they believe it's an indicator other old cemeteries may be in danger.