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Vandals damage numerous headstones in historic Thomson cemetery

Several hundred dollars worth of damages was done to a number of headstones - some dating back to the late 1800s - at a Thomson cemetery last week. And now a group of local residents are in the process of having the headstones repaired.

The vandalism is believed to have occurred sometime last Wednesday night at the cemetery adjacent to Thomson First United Methodist Church, according to McDuffie County Associate Magistrate David Moore, caretaker of the cemetery. After discovering the damage, Judge Moore contacted Thomson police.

Judge Moore said Thomson Mayor Kenneth Usry had gotten in touch with a man in Elbert County who had planned to assess the damages and to offer his advice concerning repairs of the headstones at the cemetery. Mayor Usry met with Elberton Mayor Larry Guest on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the type of repairs that are needed and an approximate cost to have such work done.

Mayor Usry had earlier indicated that the city couldn't do the work because the cemetery property isn't owned by the city. The property is overseen by a private group.

Judge Moore said he was thankful that Mr. Guest can make the repairs for a few hundred dollars as compared to it costing upwards of $10,000, possibly. Mr. Guest plans to use a special glue to make the repairs.

An investigation into the vandalism case was continuing with no one having been arrested for the crime as of Tuesday, according to Investigator Lt. Scott Whittle.

Judge Moore told Sgt. Jammie Smith that at least six headstones were deliberately turned over by the vandals, causing extensive damage.

The six headstones damaged there were the graves of the following persons: Mrs. A.F. Printup, Jacob Printup, William Printup, Rebecca Printup, Beula Farr Banks and Emmeline Smith, according to Judge Moore in an e-mail.

The cemetery, where a number of Civil War soldiers are buried, has 1,089 graves, Judge Moore said. The oldest recorded grave there is that of 7-year-old Mary E. Sutton, who died June 6, 1835. The headstone to her grave cannot be found, he said.

Anyone with information regarding the vandalism at the cemetery should contact the Thomson Police Department at 706-595-2166.

Web posted on Thursday, July 09, 2009

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