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June 23, 2014

Ninth Street preservation

City, historical society working to deter cemetery vandalism

The city of Logansport and the Cass County Historical Society are making a combined and stronger emphasis to maintain the Ninth Street Cemetery, the town’s oldest burial ground.

For decades, the cemetery has had a history of vandalism — it goes back more than 150 years.

“It just goes on,” said Thelma Conrad about the vandalism. “It seems like it goes on in spurts.”

Conrad, executive director of the Cass County Historical Society, said vandalism has been an issue since the cemetery was established. The mayor in 1847, Jacob Benisdafer, issued a $5 fine for anyone desecrating any graves or throwing away flowers.

Since the cemetery has been around since the 1820s, many of the gravestones are brittle and have been crumbling for years. But it’s not just the old stones that are breaking or falling, Conrad said. Many of the more recent ones have been knocked over.

To deter the vandalism, Conrad has been meeting with Logansport Mayor Ted Franklin and Superintendent of Public Works Dan Williams to figure out ways to preserve the old cemetery.

For one, Williams installed multiple signs on the grounds at the beginning of June to notify people of the new hours of the cemetery as well as warning people of trespassing after hours.

“At an old, old cemetery like that, the signs don’t look too good,” Williams said. “But it has to be done that way in order for the police department to enforce the law.”

And then Wednesday, public works finished installing two security lights at the cemetery. Conrad said the historical society has asked for them since 2000, but it came down to money.

Williams said the city “rearranged” money to put a greater emphasis on the cemetery. They also recently installed a new flagpole and added more flowers. Williams also said he was tired of the vandalism and not making many improvements with the cemetery for some time.

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