SAMSON, Ala. (WDHN) — It may sound like an issue that erupted during the Jim Crow era and the early Civil Rights Movement, but in western Geneva County, several residents are furious about a new arrival being buried in a certain cemetery.
Reverend James Ruttlen is the vice-president of the Samson Community Cemetery. In 1925, the property off Columbus-Holley Highway was deeded for a black cemetery.
Rutten said Wayne Troublefield’s family requested he be buried at the location several months ago. With the exception of several bi-racial individuals, it’s believed Troublefield is the only white man buried here.
Ruttlen said this has upset some black residents.
“Everything now is integrated,” he said. “Even heaven and hell is integrated. You know, there’s no more black and white. It’s all the human race, and we have to love each other and show love, compassionate, toward each other no matter what, which is great. I was very excited when I got the call he was wanting to grant his wish to be buried into this cemetery.
“Well yes, a lot of people are upset about it, you know, but we can’t change the way people feel.”
Ruttlen said he and other volunteers keep the grass cut at the cemetery. The controversy of burying a white man at the African American cemetery hurt him spiritually.
He plans to resign as vice-president of the Samson Community Cemetery board this weekend.
“At this time, to take the pressure off me, to take the stress off me, just step down, I will be resigning,” he said.
WDHN News did reach out to Troublefield’s family, but they did not wish to comment on the controversy.