Editorial: David & Goliath Feud Raging in Clay County, Kentucky Between Citizens and School Board Attempting to Relocate a 124 Years-Old Historical Cemetery

Geronimo said: "I want to Spend My Last Days There, and be Buried Among Those Mountains"

Hoskins Cem Robert Cody Burns grave 700

Civil War Veteran Robert Cody Burns has rested peacefully in the Hoskins Cemetery since his death in 1897

Editorial by Angela Hacker

It is a sunny, cool, misty, morning at the Hoskins Cemetery at the Island Creek community of Clay County, Kentucky. There is not one that could say a peaceful feeling is emanating from the cemetery. One could say, there is actually a feeling of despair, of almost impending doom lingering in the air

A notice appeared in "The Manchester Enterprise" newspaper on Wednesday May 26, 2021 announcing to the public that the Clay County Board of Education intends to petition the Clay County Fiscal Court for permission to relocate all graves in the Hoskins Cemetery to the Manchester Memorial Gardens Cemetery.

Angela Hacker 200Many people were not aware of this displacement idea, which is basically to level the mountain where the cemetery is located for a project to improve the Clay County High School athletic facilities. As time began to pass it sadly became apparent that no news outlets, which include television, newspapers, etc., were going to make any kind of mention regarding this atrocious idea.

No Historical Societies have offered to even make a statement to inform the public, and one would think this would be a responsibility of a Historical Society to report a cemetery with graves that date back to 1893, is possibly going to not only be moved but basically wiped off the map.

During the past year of 2020 going into this year of 2021, our country has oft heard so many times the statements "Black Lives Matter," White Lives Matter," "Asian Lives Matter." With that being said, do the lives that were lead by the 78 deceased who are buried in this cemetery not matter enough that they cannot rest in peace where they chose to be buried?

Among those buried at this location are seven United States Military Veterans, two of whom are veterans from the Civil War. My cousin Robert Cody Burns, a member of Company 14 of the Kentucky Calvary, was laid to rest in this cemetery on May 7, 1897.

Also ten known infant children have been laid to rest in this cemetery. These deceased individuals indeed led lives that did matter during their lifetimes and should matter now as well.

Hoskins cem John Fox Sizemore and Martha Burns Sizemore 200

Mr. John Fox Sizemore, son of Henry "Hunting Shirt" Sizemore is well documented and proven to be of Native American Descent of the Whitetop Band of Native Indians. The Whitetop Tribe was originally established in 1896, and was then located in the tristate area of the Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee borders. The original tribe's citizens were mostly Sizemore's who were descendants of George All Sizemore and other Sizemore ancestors.

Pictured in this photo is John Fox Sizemore and Martha Burns Sizemore, in the 1930's at Mr. Sizemore's 76th birthday party at Clay County, Kentucky. This photo came from the collection of my maternal Great-Aunt Myrtle Davidson Sizemore Bowling, who was the wife of John and Martha's son Kash Sizemore.

The Whitetop Tribe is now located in Southeastern Kentucky where many of the Sizemore families ancestors settled. John Fox was laid to rest in the Hoskins Cemetery on January 11, 1944.

Most Native American cultures believe that it is improper to have contact with the remains of the deceased. In many indigenous cultures, the disruption of a dead body may prevent the spirit from peacefully moving into the afterlife. Any disturbance to the burial site is considered greatly disrespectful and is said to bring suffering.

The Navajo believe a body must be properly buried so that the spirit can move on.

Mr. Sizemore, along with 77 other individuals deserve to rest in peace and not be displaced to a location not of their choosing. If a voice could be given to them, who are supposed to be at rest here, what would they say? One knows that is impossible, and one simply cannot walk into that cemetery and state "All those in favor of being moved to another location state your name" and generate a response from them.

Therefore, a voice of not only reason but of morals needs to be heard from the top of that mountain, loudly and clearly stating: Please let the deceased rest in peace here with dignity where they belong, not displaced like they are worthless.

What is your opinion? What is of more historical significance to Clay County, a cemetery proven to be 124 years-old or a new athletic expansion?

Please contact me at this email with your feedback regarding the Hoskins Cemetery being relocated.


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