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Second historic cemetery vandalized
Cases similar, but may not be linked
A monument for the Rev. William Jackson Pirkle (1828-92) and his wife, Sarah Ann Canning (1831-85) was among those vandalized at the Mt. Moriah Church cemetery. - photo by For the Forsyth County News


Anyone with any information on either of the recent cases of cemetery vandalism in Forsyth County should contact the local sheriff’s office at (770) 781-2200.

NORTH FORSYTH — A second Forsyth County historic cemetery has been vandalized in less than a month.

Sheriff’s investigators are looking into damage at the Mt. Moriah Church cemetery, near where Hwys. 9 and 369 meet in north Forsyth.

Robin Regan, a spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said investigators believe vandals damaged the site sometime over the weekend.

“Multiple headstones were damaged, knocked over, broken in two or moved around,” Regan said. “We do have some leads that we will be following up on.”

The vandalism at Mt. Moriah, where the grave markers date from 1880 to 1930, comes less than a month after a similar incident at a smaller, family cemetery near Ronald Reagan Boulevard and Union Hill Road in south Forsyth.

In that incident, all of the tombstones and markers were knocked over, moved or broken into pieces. About 20 members of the James family were buried at that cemetery between 1862 to 1978.

“[The vandalism cases] are very similar in nature, but we aren’t sure if they’re actually related,” Regan said. “But we’ll be following up on that.”

The damage at Mt. Moriah was discovered Saturday by George Pirkle, a native of the county, and two other members of the Forsyth County Historical Society.

“When we got there, we found great-great-grandpa Pirkle’s monument had been knocked over and there was another Pirkle tombstone — a big stone, about 800 pounds — that had been pushed over,” Pirkle said. “There were several other broken tombstones and there was just a lot of vandalism in there and you could tell it was recent.”

According to Pirkle, the cemetery was founded as part of Mt. Moriah Church, of which his great-great-grandfather, William Jackson Pirkle, was the founding pastor.

The cemetery was restored a few years ago by a local Boy Scout who used the restoration of the site as his Eagle Scout project.

“[Scouts] went and cleaned it up and put up a couple of signs and spruced it up really nicely,” said Pirkle, noting that the vandals pulled the signs up and moved them.

If caught, those responsible for either of the crimes will face stiff penalties.

“Anything that is related to a place of worship carries higher charges,” Regan said. “Also, any time the gravestone of somebody who was involved in any war is involved, that is also a higher charge.”

Both cemeteries have veterans who fought in the Civil War buried there.

Among the charges those responsible could face are vandalism, trespassing and criminal damage.

Regan said having two such cases in such a short amount of time is “very odd and not something that happens a lot.”

“It’s something that we take very seriously and want to figure out what’s going on with this and put a stop to it.”