Equipment stolen from Oddfellows Cemetery site

Equipment stolen from Oddfellows Cemetery site
October 01
00:00 2015

 The caretaker house at Oddfellows Cemetery was broken into last month. (Photos by Todd Luck)

By Todd Luck

The Chronicle

The caretaker house at the historic Oddfellows Cemetery was broken into last month, and equipment that has been used for upkeep of the historic black cemetery was stolen.

The break-in was discovered by James Clyburn, president of the nonprofit Friends of the Oddfellows, which works to restore the cemetery located at 2881 Shorefair Drive.

On Sept. 5, Clyburn made a regular stop to check on the cemetery and had brought some lunch to eat in the caretaker house. When he entered the building, he saw a saw glass on the floor from a window someone broke and opened to gain entry. The equipment the group stores in the locked building was in disarray. Two Craftsman push lawnmowers, five gardening shears and other donated equipment were stolen.

“I was just disgusted,” said Clyburn, who called the police.

For more than 15 years, Friends of the Odd Fellows has been working to clean up the cemetery, which was started by black fraternal groups in 1911. The 10-acre cemetery had fallen into disrepair, and volunteers have made strides in clearing large sections that had been overgrown with trees, kudzu and bushes. There are about 10,000 African-Americans buried in the cemetery, the oldest of whom were former slaves.

The lawnmowers are the only two owned by the organization and are used to mow the grass in a large wooded section of the cemetery. A volunteer does monthly mowing in the rest of the cemetery with his own riding lawnmower. The group is still figuring out how what it will do about the missing equipment because insurance only covered replacing the window.

Clyburn said he doesn’t know how the intruder or intruders got into the cemetery, which is fenced off from ShoreFair Drive. The group keeps the cemetery’s gate locked when not in use.

The group holds a regular clean-up day on every third Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon. The cemetery has also become a regular destination for volunteers on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when a massive cleanup event is held.

Clyburn said he hopes anyone with a tip on the break-in can will contact the police.

Those wishing to make donations to Friends of the Odd Fellows can call Clyburn at 336-723-6452 or mail checks to Friends of Odd Fellows Inc., 100 Alice St., Winston-Salem, NC 27105.




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