Where’s the gate?

Published 7:48 pm Monday, January 31, 2011

A reward is being offered for the return of a gate taken from Liberty Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery on County Road 11 near Stills Crossroads over the weekend.

Larry Jones, church deacon and vice president of the cemetery board, said the four-foot wrought iron gate was connected to the fence on a private cemetery plot.

“Whoever did this probably would have ‘borrowed’ the fence, too, if it had not been in cement,” Jones said. “The gate was made kind of like a picket fence with banisters with spears on tops and the name, ‘Pennington’ was imprinted on the gate. The last person buried in that plot was in 1899 so it’s an old, old gate.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Jones said the gate probably weighed about 100 pounds and it wouldn’t bring that much if sold as scrap metal.

“But, if somebody had wanted it as an antique, it could be in Florida or somewhere by now,” he said.

Nothing else was thought to be missing from the cemetery so whoever “borrowed” the gate probably came just for that purpose, Jones said.

“We want to ask people to be on the lookout for the gate because it’s part of our church cemetery and our heritage.”

Liberty Missionary Baptist Church was founded in 1837. During a convention in 1940, a part of its membership broke away and became Primitive Baptists but others stayed on as Missionary Baptists.

“The oldest grave in the cemetery with a marker is 1846 but there are graves older than that,” Jones said. “There were a lot of graves that didn’t have any markers, just dirt piled up on them. So, there are countless unmarked graves. And, there are about 12 Confederate soldiers buried there.”

Jones said the cemetery board works hard to keep the cemetery in good condition.

“We’ve been doing some work – upgrading – and now something like this happens,” Jones said. “For somebody to ‘borrow’ something from a church cemetery is pitiful.

“We’ve contact the sheriff’s offices in Pike and Bullock counties and we’re offering a reward to anybody that will provide the information we need to get the cemetery gate back. Just call 334-738-0062. We appreciate any information that will help recover the gate.”