Cemetery complaint: ‘All I want to do is put up a memorial’

Investigators

MIDDLETOWN, Pa. (WHTM) – William Jefferies has been trying to get answers for two years.

He says several relatives are buried at East Middletown Cemetery, which has two locations in Londonderry Township: a condemned African American cemetery on Route 230 and another on Iron Mine Road which is still open.

“I am going by the death certificate. It’s a legal document,” Jefferies said.

The death certificates say his relatives were buried at East Middletown Cemetery, ranging from 1914-1974, but he can’t find them. There are no markers with their names.

While a Pennsylvania Certificate of Death requires the place of burial, it does not require a plot number. Plot records are kept by each individual cemetery and also recorded on the deed of sale.

Jefferies reached out to the East Middletown Cemetery Association, the nonprofit that takes care of the cemetery, but he says they didn’t want to help.

“I don’t understand it. If you are an organization, why do you not want to answer a question?” he said.

He filed a complaint with the attorney general’s office. The East Middletown Cemetery Association responded, saying there was no basis for Jefferies’ complaint since he didn’t buy any of the plots.

In its response, the association said plots that have been purchased are listed in its deed book and there is a surveyor’s blueprint of the cemetery which includes a diagram of the layout of plots. Jefferies says he has not been provided with that information.

Also, the association said there are no records for burials pre-dating 1950. One of Jefferies’ relatives died in 1974 and both her death certificate and a newspaper obituary list East Middletown Cemetery as the location of burial.

“The East Middletown Cemetery Association is saying that she’s not here, regardless of the death certificate,” Jefferies said.

Jefferies says he also found paperwork at the Middletown Library that lists the names of the people buried at the cemetery and his relatives’ names are on the list.

“All I want to do is put up a memorial, a brick or something with their names on them. I want my grandkids and cousins and them to know that they have relatives that are here,” Jefferies said.

The East Middletown Cemetery Association did not want to provide a comment for this story.

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