Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cemeteries on private property

While reading COLUMNS, the March 2007 Newsletter of the ISFHWE International Society of Family History Writers and Editors, Ol' Myrt ran across the following footnote in an article by Brenda Kellow, B. A., C. G. (sm) titled Funeral Records Identify Many Secrets, page 12.

  • "Cemeteries on private property are accessible under the Ingress and Egress law applicable in most states. This gives you the right to safely enter and leave the cemetery. The owner of the land has to let you on his property without causing the visitor any fear. If you don't have a copy of it, you should in case you ever have to show it to a landowner with the cemetery on his/her property." See:
Brenda cites Texas law. Ol' Myrt is wondering about the laws in other states.

    (A Member of the Law Professors Blogs Network)
    "Virginia has the most detailed statute. It provides for broad rights of access by relatives of the decedent and researchers:

    A. Owners of private property on which a cemetery or graves are located shall have a duty to allow ingress and egress to the cemetery or graves by (i) family members and descendants of deceased persons buried there; (ii) any cemetery plot owner; (iii) any person engaging in genealogy research, who has given reasonable notice to the owner of record or to the occupant of the property or both. The landowner may designate the frequency of access, hours and duration of the access and the access route if no traditional access route is obviously visible by view of the property. The landowner, in the absence of gross negligence or willful misconduct, shall be immune from liability in any civil suit, claim, action, or cause of action arising out of the access granted pursuant to this section.

    B. The right of ingress and egress granted to persons specified in subsection A shall be reasonable and limited to the purposes of visiting graves, maintaining the gravesite or cemetery, or conducting genealogy research. The right of ingress and egress shall not be construed to provide a right to operate motor vehicles on the property for accessing a cemetery or gravesite unless there is a road or adequate right-of-way that permits access by motor vehicle and the owner has given written permission to use the road or right-of-way of necessity. . . . Va. Code Ann.§ 57.27.1 (1993)."
  • SOUTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY is also considering such a bill. See:
    (L. 1987 H.B. 60 §§ 2, 3, A.L. 1997 S.B. 58)
    "214.132. 1. Any person who wishes to visit an abandoned family cemetery or private burying ground which is completely surrounded by privately owned land, for which no public ingress or egress is available, shall have the right to reasonable ingress or egress for the purpose of visiting such cemetery. This right of access to such cemeteries extends only to visitation during reasonable hours and only for purposes usually associated with cemetery visits."
    NC General Statutes - Chapter 65 Article 10
    "§ 65 74. Entering public or private property to maintain or visit a private grave or an abandoned public cemetery with consent.
    Any of the following persons, with the consent of the public or private landowner, may enter the property of another to discover, restore, maintain, or visit a private grave or abandoned public cemetery:
    (1) A descendant of the person whose remains are reasonably believed to be interred in the grave;
    (2) A descendant's designee; or
    (3) Any other person who has a special personal interest in the grave or abandoned public cemetery. (1987, c. 686, s. 1; 1991, c. 36, s. 1.)
    § 65 75. Entering public or private property to maintain or visit a private grave or an abandoned public cemetery without consent.
    (a) If the consent of the landowner cannot be obtained, any person listed in G.S. 65 74(1), (2), or (3) may commence a special proceeding by petitioning the clerk of superior court of the county in which the petitioner has reasonable grounds to believe the deceased is buried..."
Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)
DearMYRTLE, your friend in genealogy
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