Residents show support for old historical landmark
Published 10:07 pm Thursday, August 2, 2007
Area residents who have ties to Consolation Primitive Baptist Church hope the recent arrest of 13 people charged with burglary and criminal mischief will heighten awareness of the historic structure and discourage future vandals.
Thirteen Covington County residents, including 10 juveniles, were arrested on Fri., July 13, in the church that sits across the Butler County line near Red Level after a sheriff’s department investigation into cultish behavior there.
Though there hasn’t been an active congregation in the white-washed, 19th-century church in decades, descendants of those buried in the church cemetery still work to keep the grounds in good shape.
Consolation Cemetery Association secretary and treasurer Eugene Phillips said the act of desecrating a church is unimaginable.
“I can’t imagine why people would do this to a place that means so much to us,” Phillips said. “This is a historical landmark and they just stripped it of its identity.
“Even if you look on the pew seats closely, you can see burn marks.”
A website presenting stories of haunted places, www.theshadowlands.net, is blamed by many for the attraction vandals feel to Consolation Church and nearby Oakey Street Church. According to the website, ghostly figures have been seen in front of the church – a little boy with a ball, a little girl skipping down the road and a mysterious black Ford truck.
Vandals have left broken windows, burned pews and the remnants of candles in the now boarded-up historic structure, where they also have sketched a pentagram, a symbol often used by the occult, on the floor.
“It is heartbreaking to come up here and see what is happening to the church,” said former church member Madison H. Cook. “The benches are a part of this church and the way that they are being treated is not good.”
Cook, a long-time Red Level resident who is now 89, was a member of Consolation Primitive Baptist in his younger years.
“We had dinner on the grounds a lot of the time,” Cook said. “They would stand me up on the table just so I wouldn’t get stepped on,” he said with a chuckle.
Cook said many members of his family are buried at the cemetery only a few yards away.
“I have a lot of my family buried here,” he said. “My great grandmother died in 1913 and my great grandfather died in 1922.
“My nephew still helps out with mowing the grass around the site.”
The church was a school at one point, Cook said.
Kathy DeMoss Phillips, a resident of the area and wife of Eugene Phillips, said that if the church remains standing, the vandalism needs to stop.
“I am happy to still see it standing,” Phillips said. “But, these people need to have some respect for this church.
“It’s still a place of God.”
The Consolation Primitive Baptist Church has a small board that meets to discuss general business about the church.