More than 275 grave markers were vandalized at a Texas cemetery in the suburbs of Dallas, most of them more than 100 years old and one belonging to one of the city’s first settlers.
The extensive damage at Waxahachie City Cemetery – about 30 miles south of Dallas – was discovered around 9 a.m. on Monday, local police wrote in a Facebook post.
The cemetery was established in 1852 and contains about 10,000 graves.
Among those toppled and broken was the tombstone of Emory Rogers, who is considered by many the founder of the Texas town. A plaque near his gravestone reads ‘First Settler in Waxahachie.’
‘This is by far the worst case of vandalism we have seen in the City Cemetery,’ Gumaro Martinez, executive director of the city’s Parks and Leisure Services, said in a statement. ‘Many of the markers that were affected are very old, and repairs will be difficult and costly.’
A vandal or vandals toppled over 275 grave markers at Waxahachie City Cemetary in Texas, about 30 miles south of Dallas
Among the tombstones destroyed at Waxahachie cemetary was that of Emory Rogers (pictured), who is considered by many the founder of the Texas town, which is marked with a plaque that reads ‘First Settler in Waxahachie.’
Significant damage was done to historically significant and recent grave sites alike – the town is urging residents not to attempt to right the stones of their loved ones themselves, but to wait for the city to hire a contractor who can repair the markers safely
The Waxahachie Police Department is looking to the public for tips that will lead to the culprit, and are offering a cash reward through Crime Stoppers of Ellis County
The cemetery was established in 1852, and contains about 10,000 graves
The Waxahachie Police Department is offering a cash reward through Crime Stoppers of Ellis County for help in finding the culprits.
Waxahachie City Councilmember Travis Smith wrote on Facebook that the city’s Cemetery Board met earlier this week to organize volunteer cleanup days for the extensive damage, and that the town will be ‘leaning on the experts’ to repair the fragile stones.
‘My gut tells me it was a group of high school-aged kids who didn’t realize the gravity of their action,’ he wrote.
‘For what it’s worth, it didn’t appear any of the headstones were struck with an object, mostly pushed over. My gut also suggests the vandals are more than aware now and we’ll have answers sooner, not later.’
Significant damage was done to historically significant and more recent grave sites. The town is urging residents not to attempt to right the stones themselves, but to wait for the city to hire a contractor who can repair the markers safely.
Families of those buried at the graveyard were furious about the destruction.
The city’s promise to right the damage hasn’t stopped effected families’ gripes. Marlena Hernandez posted the damage to her father’s headstone on Facebook
Waxahachie City Council member Travis Smith wrote on Facebook that the city’s Cemetery Board met earlier this week to organize volunteer cleanup days for the extensive damage, and that the town will be ‘leaning on the experts’ to repair the fragile stones
‘To whoever decided to damage the Waxahachie City Cemetery, and destroy every single thing my dad had on his grave, I hope my dad pulls y’alls feet at night,’ wrote Marlena Hernandez on Facebook.
‘There was no reason to do such things to someone’s resting place and a police report has been made. If anyone knows anything or saw anything please contact Waxahachie Police Department.’
Paul Yarborough, whose family moved from Alabama to the area in 1853, has found about 200 relatives buried at the site on Hawkins Street. He told FOX 4 that, although the vandals ‘will eventually get caught… the damage is done.’
‘We heard about the damage so we came out today and luckily we only have one headstone there that was turned over,’ he told the station.
Paul Yarborough (pictured), told FOX 4 that, although the vandals ‘will eventually get caught… the damage is done’
‘We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of support for the community,’ Amy Borders (pictured), a spokesperson for Waxahachie, told FOX 4 . ‘We will get everything repaired, we just want to make sure we do everything right and safely’
‘Grave sites for the living, to come find history… They are just stones, but there’s a history and a story behind all of these families. To me, this is all that’s left of their lives, the story on these markers, and you have just destroyed some of that.’
Councilman David Hill told FOX 4 that the markers were ‘irreplaceable.’
‘You just look at it and wonder, “Why?”‘
A fund has been established to pay for repairs – DailyMail.com could not reach Waxahachie Town Hall to determine how much money has been raised thus far.
‘We’ve had a tremendous outpouring of support for the community,’ Amy Borders, a spokesperson for Waxahachie, told FOX 4. ‘We will get everything repaired, we just want to make sure we do everything right and safely.’
Who was Waxahachie founder Emory Rogers?
Emory Rogers, considered by many to be the first settler in Ellis County and the founder of Waxahachie, was born in Alabama in 1813 to James and Mary Rogers. He married Nancy Clinton of South Carolina in 1833, and in 1847, the couple moved with their four sons and two daughters to present-day Waxahachie.
In 1849, Rogers received a grant of 640 acres along the north fork of the Waxahachie creek, and established it as the seat of the newly-created Ellis County.
Rogers played a leading role in planning the town, and supervised the construction of various roads, streets and a post office, according to the Texas State Historical Association, and built a hotel bearing his name in 1856. That hotel burned down in 1881, but was reconstructed in 1912 and stood well into the 20th century.
Rogers joined the Confederacy with the coming of the Civil War, and was elected as a major in the Twelfth Texas Cavalry Regiment.
In 1862, Rogers led elements of the cavalry in the battle of Whitney’s Lane in Arkansas. Although his men were outnumbered and forced to retreat, the battle forestalled a Union attack on Little Rock and ensured the state’s continued participation in the Confederacy.
When the war concluded in 1865, Rogers returned to Waxahachie to resume his leadership role until he passed away in 1874.