Headstones found on Cape Girardeau County property will be returned to rightful place
Monday, March 8, 2010
By Brian Blackwell ~ Southeast Missourian
When Wayne Godwin began renting a home at 2350 Route Y in December he assumed all that was included in the package was a house and land.
He never dreamed he would one day stumble upon another added feature — stolen gravestones dating back to the late 1800s.
Godwin discovered the stones recently after surveying land near his home with property manager Dave Soto. One stone was a marker for Samuel and William Masterson, young twins who died in 1863 and 1864, respectively, while the other stone was a marker for Jesse J. Miller, who died at the age of 15 in 1906.
“The first thing that popped into my mind was they needed to go back to where they belong,” Godwin said.
Godwin and Soto contacted the Cape Girardeau County Archives Center, which quickly confirmed where both stones had come from. Drew Blattner, assistant director of the center, said the Masterson stone was originally in the Masterson family cemetery near the Jaycees Golf Course, while the Miller stone once stood in the Nunn-Miller cemetery on the grounds of Chateau Girardeau.
Blattner said it is not unusual for vandals to steal or damage gravestones at the more than 200 county cemeteries such as Old Lorimier Cemetery, whose stones have been damaged countless times.
Blattner said this is the first time someone has volunteered to return a stone belonging in a graveyard.
“Hopefully this will inspire others to return stones they find,” Blattner said. “If anyone has any tombstones that they have in their possession, we’d ask that they please contact the archive center and we’ll place them where they belong.”
Soto said the owner of the Godwin home said someone living in her neighborhood stole the gravestones one Halloween many years ago. In his 10 years of involvement in real estate, Soto said he never encountered a situation like at the home off Route Y.
“It’s not something you see every day,” Soto said. “The owner had told me she’d take care of having the stones returned the next time she was in town. But when I saw that one of them were of twin babies I knew we had to take care of the situation right away.”
2350 Route Y, Jackson, MO
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