How the gravestone got inside the home in Okemos, Michigan, outside Lansing? Now that’s a mystery, according to Friends of Lansing’s Historic Cemeteries (FOLHC) President Loretta S. Stanaway.
The monument was discovered in August on an estate auction site after the matriarch of the family was placed in a care facility for Alzheimer’s, Stanaway said. A former citizen of Lansing recognized it was probably from a city cemetery and got in touch with the FOLHC, and they started investigating.
“The family hired an auctioneer to take care of the items,” Stanaway told CNN. “As he was going through things, he saw this slab of marble in the kitchen and turned it around and discovered it was gravestone. The family told him they used it to make fudge. The family could not say how or when the gravestone got there.”
Stanaway said the family told her the gravestone was used as the hard surface to make seasonal fudge since it was made out of marble.
The process to find the gravestone’s rightful home was a long one, said Stanaway.
“We looked into trying to find any relatives to see what we could figure out what the story was from a relative standpoint or someone who could give us permission to put the monument back where it belongs, but we weren’t able to find any survivors,” Stanaway said.
Peter J. Weller died in 1849 in Lansing, Michigan, and was buried in Oak Park Cemetery, Stanaway said.
In 1875, his grave was moved Mount Hope Cemetery, but the monument never made it.
The gravestone had been missing for 146 years before it was returned.
The auctioneer donated the monument to FOLHC and they got to work restoring his plot. They discovered Weller had two daughters and a daughter-in-law in the same cemetery. His daughter-in-law’s stone had been restored in 2014, so they decided to restore his daughters’ as well.
FOLHC hired a preservationist and he returned the monuments to their former glory.