Tempers Flare In Osage County Land Dispute

Monday, March 28th 2011, 6:23 pm
By: News On 6

Dan Bewley, News On 6

OSAGE COUNTY, Oklahoma -- A small family cemetery is at the center of a big dispute in Osage County.

The Boulanger family cemetery has been the final resting place for dozens of family members for the past 60 years.

But the family is fighting with another man who says he owns the land where the cemetery sits.

The Boulanger family of Osage County went before the county commission Monday. Their anger focused at one man, Roy St. John.

The issue is the Boulanger Family Cemetery. The land has been in the family since the early 1900's, the cemetery was built in the '50's.

The Boulangers say the land was deeded to the Osage County Commissioners in 1951 with the agreement that the family would maintain it and keep the graves safe.

Since then, the Boulanger's have had family picnics here and made sure their ancestors burial sites were protected and free of weeds.

"It just seems natural to us that this has always been ours," said Mitch Boulanger.

But a year and-a-half ago Roy St John claimed to own the land.

"It upsets the family because he starts telling who can access our cemetery that has been in our family for 60-plus years," Boulanger said.

St. John disputes that claim.

"I have been a good neighbor and I've done everything I can and I am attacked, as you see, by a whole bunch of people," St. John said.

But the family says pictures of For Sale and No Trespassing signs placed here by St. John tell another story.

They also say pictures showing horse manure near the graves is evidence St. John has allowed his horses inside the cemetery.

"I question the moral of any person who could do that to any cemetery," Boulanger said.

The Osage County Commissioners voted Monday to deed 1.2 acres of land back to the family, allowing St. John to keep ownership of the land where the picnic tables sit.

The family says that still leaves St. John in control of the property. They wish the matter would never come to such emotions and wonder why St. John never approached the family when he took ownership.

"Rather than just coming up here and ordering me off the land. That was a little too much," Darrell Boulanger said.

The Boulanger's say the county should have never taken over the land in the '50's. They plan to file a lawsuit to regain control of the entire property.