Tree falls across family members’ graves in Whitehaven cemetery


UPDATE: An administrator at Old Nonconnah Missionary Baptist Church said they are working with a company to get the tree removed from the property. The company said the ground must be completely dry to get equipment in the area.

A small church, Old Nonconnah has not been attending in-person services for the last year and has faced financial hurdles.

The trustee we talked to also said he didn’t have any contact information to get in touch Franklin after receiving a note from her in the church mailbox. They’re also updating phone numbers at the church to make sure they can be contacted in the future. 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A woman wants to visit her loved ones at a Whitehaven grave site but says that’s not possible because a large tree has been blocking access.

Rosiland Franklin tried to show us the final resting spots for her brother and aunt in the cemetery at Old Nonconnah Missionary Baptist Church. But right now that’s proving to be difficult. 

An enormous fallen tree covers a large portion of the cemetery.

“You have to think if this was your loved one, how would you feel?” Franklin said.

Franklin first saw the downed tree back in February. She says she tried contacting the church multiple times but can never reach anyone.

She tried visiting again Father’s Day and found the tree still there.

“I was very sad because this is unacceptable. This is just unacceptable,” she said. “It’s just not being taken care of properly.”

Her brother, Calvin Jordan, has been buried at the site nearly 41 years. Her aunt, Eluab Jefferson, who she says was a member of the church was buried here in the late 1980s. 

We tried to get in touch with someone too about the property’s upkeep. No one appeared to be inside the church when we visited, and the listed phone number wouldn’t ring or allow us to leave a message. 

We left a note asking for someone to get back to us about the problem. 

For Franklin, the answer is simple. She wants the tree gone.

“They should check it. It’s their property,” she said. “So I can visit and put flowers on there and kinda maintain and take care of it. Like I would want them to do. Take care of it.”

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