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Old headstones found in ditch southwest of Haysville came from Highland Cemetery

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012, at 1:24 p.m.
  • Updated Monday, Feb. 27, 2012, at 1:22 p.m.

A few clicks on a website that keeps cemetery records from around the world quickly solved part of the mystery of six headstones, including some at least 135 years old, that were found abandoned in a ditch a few miles southwest of Haysville.

Shortly after making the names on the headstones public about noon Tuesday, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office was bombarded by e-mails and phone calls saying the grave markers came from Highland Cemetery, Ninth Street and Hillside, in northeast Wichita, Capt. Gregory Pollock said.

People apparently made the discovery by plugging in the names on the headstones into findagrave.com. Once they matched the names and dates of birth or death with Highland, they contacted Pollock. He estimated he heard from 50 people within an hour.

“I didn’t realize how many people do these genealogy searches,” Pollock said.

Findagrave.com also has now been added to the department’s list of websites it searches.

Sheriff’s deputies had been trying to determine what cemetery the headstones came from since a deputy found them Monday in a ditch by the road at 5200 W. 87th St. South. They searched five cemeteries in the Haysville area but didn’t have any luck.

Now, the search is on for who took the headstones. Highland Cemetery employees began searching the property to see other stones had been stolen, Pollock said.

At least three of the headstones were for young children.

Some of the stones clearly show the name of the person, date of birth and date of death. Others stones are more worn and all the information isn’t readable.

Following is a list of the stones and information available:

•  Henry M. Steele; died March 1, 1877; age 5 years.

•  Timothy W. Steele; died March 18, 1877; age 2 years.

•  Birtie Summers; son of S.C. and J. Summers; died Feb. 1, 1881; age 2 months.

•  Joseph Mohan; born Oct. 8, 1877.

•  Mary M. Lawson; wife of J.R. Lawson; born Sept. 1, 1857; died April 21, 1909.

•  Timothy Joseph O’Conner; born August 1867.

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