Grave Sites Left In Disrepair At Historic Tulsa Cemetery

Thursday, June 7th 2018, 6:11 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Headstones are sinking into the ground and others have been tossed aside at a historic Tulsa cemetery.

The cemetery dates back to Tulsa's founder's but in the last few years, maintenance has lapsed to the point that some headstones that belong on graves are stacked up in a pile.

The cemetery's owner said they don't know where to put them.

Throughout Crown Hill Cemetery, graves are in poor shape. In spots, they're sinking down.

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In many places, headstones are disappearing and at risk of being lost for good.

With every rainstorm, mud covers them a little more.

In one section at Crown Hill, a lot of the graves are almost covered. Some are hidden already and you can really only find them by poking the ground. 

The headstones that are placed are one issue, but there's another problem.

Stacks of headstones are up against and around a maintenance shed and they're supposed to be marking graves.
There are headstones for veterans and civilians, some very old and some more recent.

They are stacked on all sides, with trees growing up around them.

After a recent case when a family couldn't find their relatives headstone, State Senator Matthews started trying to get some answers.
“When people make an agreement to bury their loved ones there, the cemetery agrees to take care of the property perpetually,” Matthews said. 

He said his research is just beginning.

On the other hand, the prior owner of the cemetery said it's a clear problem with the current owner; they're at odds over a complicated transaction that left Crown Hill Funeral Home without the cemetery of the same name.

“We're out tens of thousands of dollars paying attorneys and we flat don't have the money to continue that. We have to make a living. We cannot spend every penny we have in defending that cemetery, said Michael McConnell with Crown Hill Funeral Home. 

Several funeral directors said they've complained about problems there for years.

A representative of the owner said they have a five-year plan for repairs but said after this attention to the problems, "we know we've got to speed up some things."