Sleepy Alabama Town Worries Too Much About Where People Should Rest Forever

Man buries wife in front yard. City government would prefer azalea bushes.


Move her dead body over his dead body.

With the cancellation of Harry's Law and the subsequent absence of David E. Kelley's forcibly quirky legal shows on the airwaves, there might not be anybody out there to dramatize the awesome stubbornness of Alabaman James Davis in regards to the disposition of his dead wife, Patsy Ruth Davis. Via the Associated Press:

James Davis is fighting to keep the remains of his late wife right where he dug her grave: In the front yard of his home, just a few feet from the porch.

Davis said he was only abiding by Patsy Ruth Davis' wishes when he buried her outside their log home in 2009, yet the city sued to move the body elsewhere. A county judge ordered Davis to disinter his wife, but the ruling is on hold as the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals considers his challenge.

Davis, 73, said he never expected such a fight.

"Good Lord, they've raised pigs in their yard, there's horses out the road here in a corral in the city limits, they've got other gravesites here all over the place," said Davis. "And there shouldn't have been a problem."

Davis lives in the small Alabama town of Stevenson near the northeast border of the state. Here's the city attorney's response:

"We're not in the 1800s any longer," said city attorney Parker Edmiston. "We're not talking about a homestead, we're not talking about someone who is out in the country on 40 acres of land. Mr. Davis lives in downtown Stevenson."

Bustling downtown Stevenson! Here's a picture of downtown Stevenson for you:

Not the 1800s.

The city has a population of 2,000 people. Be honest: When you look at picture of that, you practically expect people to bury their dead in their yards. I am amused that Edmiston thinks they are not "out in the country." That a community is small enough for people to be buried in their own yards could be a selling point with the right marketing.

Libertarianism is invoked in the defense of Davis' desire for him and his dead wife to be left the hell alone:

A strong libertarian streak runs through northeast Alabama, which has relatively few zoning laws to govern what people do with their property. Even a neighbor who got into a fight with Davis over the gravesite—Davis said he punched the man—isn't comfortable with limiting what a homeowner can do with his property.

"I don't think it's right, but it's not my place to tell him he can't do it," said George W. Westmoreland, 79, who served three tours of duty in Vietnam. "I laid my life on the line so he would have the right to do this. This is what freedom is about."

Davis is protesting the city's efforts by running for City Council. He also plans to be buried in the yard next to Patsy after he dies.


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  1. All that asphalt and nary a hot dog cart. I am disappoint.

    1. Nor any yards to bury people in.

  2. “We’re not in the 1800s any longer,” said city attorney Parker Edmiston. “We’re not talking about a homestead, we’re not talking about someone who is out in the country on 40 acres of land. Mr. Davis lives in downtown Stevenson.”


  3. Having a dead body or two in the front yard could affect your home’s resale value.

    1. Something tells me that Mr. Davis isn’t in the market.

      1. It says right there that his wife is dead, and a man does have certain needs…Oh, you mean his house. Yeah, probably not.

        1. If that picture is legit, it looks like he’s living in a log cabin, or a timber house– whichever you prefer.

          I’d imagine there are plenty of lasses out there who’d find the prospect of churning Mr. Davis’s butter somewhat enchanting… in a rustic way.

          1. If there are women in Alabama with standards that low, maybe it’s time for me to relocate.

            1. Hugh: the Adonis of Alabama.

              Who Weeps for Akston?

              1. Body buried in Alabama and you manage a ST:TOS reference.

                Bravo sir.

            2. If you have all your teeth, you’re movie star good looking.

            3. If I could put an online ad up that a woman like that would read, it’d be done already.

              Unfortunately, I have to call the local circular and have it printed up the old fashioned way. Kind of like Gene Hackman in Zandy’s Bride. Too far.

              1. If I could put an online ad up that a woman like that would read

                Women like that probably can’t read anyway.

                1. Women like that probably can’t read anyway.

                  Good point. So a picture of me + a picture of a weddin’ rang with an eq sign and a picture of a dollar bill should do it.

  4. Even a neighbor who got into a fight with Davis over the gravesite — Davis said he punched the man

    How is this not on Youtube?

    1. It’s Stevenson, Alabama. The Youtubes hasn’t quite made it there yet.

      1. They have internet, but do you have any idea how long it takes to upload a few minutes of video engraved on stone tablets?

  5. Well here’s my question: do you have to disclose the corpse when you sell the place? Is there a box for that on the form?

    Me, I’d like to know my house my property was corpse free.

    1. The Gravestone might give it away.

      1. “It’s a halloween decoration, next question.”

    2. where’s that sense of adventure?

    3. That’s why I always ask if there are corpses buried in the yard when I’m house-hunting. And I make sure to visibly deflate a little when they say no.

      1. Bastard! I just sprayed tea on my monitor!

      2. I have a cemetery full of small animals my cat hugged too hard with his teeth. Does that count?

        Granted, there a very few complete skeletons.

        1. My German shepherd is buried just outside my back porch about five feet down.

          And there are buried cats all over the place.

      3. That’s why I always ask if there are corpses buried in the yard when I’m house-hunting.

        The trick is in asking properly. You don’t get all up in his face about it like some goddamn cityslickin rev’newer. More along the lines of “how much spare room is there for me to bury my loved ones?” That should get the right response.

    4. As long as the bodies are considered mine once I buy the place I’d be all for owning property with human corpses buried there. I say dig’m up, take the jewelry, and sell the skeletons. Those freaks on the Science Channel’s Oddities pay a pretty penny for human skulls.

      1. Surely there must be a more lucrative subletting scheme to be pursued.

      2. Master Shake: I hate to be a buzzkill, but he said that your house is on elf graves and they’re pissed off.

        Carl: All right, fine, we’ll do that.

        Meatwad: And the blood’s just gonna keep flowing, unless…

        Cybernetic Ghost: Unless Carl pays tribute to the Elfin Elders in space.

        Carl: I’ll do it. What do I do?

        Cybernetic Ghost: You must give of yourself to the Great Red Ape.

        Carl: Okay…how much?

        Cybernetic Ghost: Sexually.

        Carl: …wonderful.

        1. Mr. Stotch: Indian burial ground?
          Old Man: It’s been done before, what you’re thinkin’ of. The Nelson boy, back in ’85.
          Mr. Stotch: You’re saying if I dig up my son’s body and rebury him at the old Indian burial ground, that-
          Old Man: Don’t do it, Stotch! What comes out of the ground ain’t the thing you put in. The Indians knew that, that’s why the stopped usin’ it when the ground went sour. I’m just here to talk you out of it. [heads for the door] Don’t bury your son’s body at the Indian burial ground, Stotch! The one that’s right up over there, by the Andersons’ barn. Sometimes, dead is better.

  6. “Mr. Davis lives in downtown Stevenson.”

    Is “downtown” really an appropriate word here? This is downtown.

    1. That’s not downtown, that’s alien monster bait.

      1. It can be both!

        1. Also I need to trademark the word monsterbate. Somebody is sure to use it to describe Warty’s nighttime activities, and I want make sure I get my piece of the action.

          1. I like it. It’s the perfect word to describe Roland Emmerich’s style.

          2. yeah, because someone referring to Warty will be all about paying royalties.

            “Hmmm, they mailed me this slip of paper. It just says ‘Fuck Off, Slaver.'”

  7. Daily Mail article has more pictures.


    From the comments:

    I also plan to bury my wife in the back garden next week. Thing is I havent told her yet.

    – hagar, blackpool, 20/8/2012 16:31

    1. Yeah, he clearly has a huge front yard. Fuck the city.

        1. I’m jealous of his shirt. That is one fine shirt.

    2. The gas can storage under the house might raise some eyebrows. Timber + gas cans = some kind of disaster that’s difficult to nail down.

      1. Lung cancer from the built up fumes, right?

        1. I was thinking it contaminates the soild and makes the flowers on the graves hard to grow.

          1. solid = soil

            Dear Reason: Please keep the ‘submit’ and ‘preview’ buttons consistent in their positioning.

  8. “We’re not in the 1800s any longer,” said city attorney Parker Edmiston.

    They pulled down the sign with “Welcome to Stevenson” painted on both sides years ago!

  9. Burial is a waste of space if it is intended to permanently restrict use of the site for anything else. Proper disposal of a corpse should result in its matter never being a burden to anybody ever again. Cremate, submerge, or compost in common with any other refuse.

    1. submerge? otherwise, yeah, what DRaS said.

      I’m opting for composting. Best payoff. Cremation seems like a waste.

      1. He might be composting, but a modern cemetery with embalmed bodies, sealed caskets, and concrete vaults isn’t very “compostey”.

        1. Dammit that was for Paul.

        2. If he’s a true old-timer, he put her in a pine box.

      2. submerge?

        My father’s senile dementia plans call for me to put him in a small boat with a GPS slaved motor pointed towards Columbia (due South of our beach house) and a scuttling charge set to go off in 3 hours, then call the Coast Guard 3 days later.

    2. Cremate, submerge, or compost in common with any other refuse.

      He is composting.

      And nothing is permanent. When the old coot dies, someone will sell the property. The owner of the property may relocate the graves as he/she sees fit.

      Think of Stevenson as Somalia.

      1. Think of Stevenson as Somalia.

        Of course anyone who might do so will leave out the part that Stevenson had a total of 8 robberies, 3 rapes, and 0 (zero) murders from 2001-2009. And with only 4 cops!

        The people of Stevenson, AL are poor and uneducated, but if a town of nearly 2000 can go a decade without a murder, I’d call that a town full of good people. A place like NYC or Chicago has more murders over the average weekend than Stevenson has had in its entire history.

        1. I may have been too subtle in my humor. My point was to paint Stevenson as a wild, unregulated Libertopia where the residents… at least some of them, may even own firearms. To the modern regulatin’ librul: Somalia.

    3. No one better fucking stop my funeral pyre party.

      I’m going to raffle off the rights to set off the buried explosives, after my body is consumed.

  10. Also Shackford, I will not hear a negative word spoken against Picket Fences. Tom Skerritt, Don Cheadle, Fyvush Finkel, Ray Fucking Walston! Truly, they were as gods who made that show.

    1. Yeah, but Kelley lost the map about three seasons into “Ally McBeal” and never found it again.

      1. Only white people watched that show.

        And 9/11 killed Ally McBeal.

  11. dead wife to be left the hell alone

    That’s not nice.

  12. He also plans to be buried in the yard next to Patsy after he dies.

    Who is going to bury him in the yard, again?

    Anyway, could dead bodies next door be construed as a public nuisance? I would add disturbing the peace, but it’s more like disturbing the rest-in-peace. No, really, if it’s reasonable to stop folks from playing music too loud….might not a patsy pet cemetery be cause for community intervention?

    1. Who is going to bury him in the yard, again?

      Children, Grandchildren etc.

    2. If they create an actual nuisance, sure. But as long as they are buried appropriately, I don’t see any problem.

  13. So that’s what Uncle Jesse looks like without a beard.

  14. A strong libertarian streak runs through northeast Alabama

    “I knew it! Libertarians are just a bunch of slack jawed redneck yokels! This one story totally confirms my pre-conceived biases.” /Left-tard “Tony”

  15. A strong libertarian streak runs through northeast Alabama

    If every town or region that is said to have a “libertarian streak” actually had a libertarian streak, we wouldn’t be fucked as a nation.

    Fuck this whole trend of statist journalists who attribute shit that is outside of the accepted paradigm as being “libertarian.” Because ONLY a crazy libertarian could agree with wanting to bury a woman in the front yard.

    I’d bet if you really ask this guy pointed questions about his political ideals, libertarians isn’t even fucking close to the result you’d get.

    1. Probably not, but I’ll postulate that the venerable Mr. Davis is closer than your average city-slickin’ New Yorker. His neighbor is certainly on the right track.

      1. Agreed.

        But then again we only had the small prism of property rights on view for us. I wonder how he is when it comes to killing brown people overseas. Or drugs laws.

        That said, if every proglodyte could, within their political sensibilities, replace their outright hostility towards the idea of private property rights with something resembling libertarianism our country would be in MUCH better shape, even if every single of their other political beliefs remained the same.

    2. Northeast Alabama’s “libertarian streak” comes from the same thing as western NC, or eastern TN’s: the Appalachian mountains. They didn’t want to fight the Civil War, either. Fight each other, that’s a different thing.

  16. If Stevenson, AL is changing a law in order to retroactively prohibit this dude from using his front yard as a graveyard, then they are exercising eminent domain and they owe him for the taking of a use of his property that he enjoyed up until now. There would be far fewer adverse zoning changes in this country if courts would uphold them as “takings” and the town fathers had to compensate the property owners who were affected.

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