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Family Seeks to Exhume Bodies from Cemetery in Yard

By Cyndi Lundeberg
By Clundeberg@wbbjtv.com

BIG SANDY, Tenn. - A family in Big Sandy who owns property that contains a cemetery now wants the bodies exhumed and relocated to make their efforts to sell the home easier.

Jan Fruits says her ancestors are buried in the cemetery on the Schelthoff's property. She said she visits it often to pay her respects and connect with her past.

"It means a lot to be able to go there and sit and reminisce about how it was way back when," Fruits said.

The Schelthoffs said they are trying to move to Florida and want to sell their home. Walter Schelthoff says he believes the home isn't selling because of the cemetery.

The Schelthoff's have hired a lawyer and want the bodies to be exhumed and relocated.

"I would be very sad very very sad if that were to happen" Fruits said. "It's very important to know who your ancestors are and where you came from!"

The Schelthoff's bought the home in 2007, well aware the part of their land where the cemetery sits would remain public property.

Benton County Commissioner Jamie Barrett says there are hundreds of descendants still living in the county, many who have contacted him. He says he hopes the county can intervene.

"One option I'm hoping is he can give us a clear path for the county to take this property over and preserve and protect it," Barrett said.

Fruits says she wants to protect the land for her children and for future generations.

"Those future descendants will come by and be able to find it easily and be able to visit it !" Fruits said.

Commissioner Barrett says the county has one month to draft a resolution to acquire the land. This he says will ensure the bodies will not be moved.