140-year-old tombstone returned
GOLD HILL, Nv. (WHDH) -- It's back to the future in northern Nevada. A piece of 19th century history is back where it belongs. The tombstone was stolen nearly 4-decades ago.
But this weekend, the community came together to right a wrong.
The Jones boys died in a blizzard in 1871 and now more than 140 years later the Comstock community came together to remember them and return their stolen tombstone to its rightful home.
"These poor children who were laid to rest here and then their grave was so badly desecrated, to know that now they will really be resting in peace is very meaningful for them and for the community as well,” said archivist Cindy Southerland.
Henry and John Jones died on Christmas Eve in 1871 and were laid to rest in Gold Hill Cemetery.
Then about a hundred years later their tombstone was stolen.
"It was stolen sometime in the 1970's and then dumped in a ditch near Petaluma and found in 1978 by the two rock valley Presbyterian Church which stored it,” said Ron James, a State Historic Preservation Officer.
Nearly four decades after the head stone was found, that church was able to find its origin and return it.
"For one of these things to come back is a real miracle and to be able to find out exactly where it belonged. To place it where it belonged is such a remarkable event,” said Ron James.
Now it is back in place and the community celebrated the event with music, prayer and period costumes by the graveside.
"I think it just shows a respect. We're going back in history. If it's not here, if we don't take care of these sites, we lose them for all time, and these people have no place in history. Their page is lost. And it's very important, very significant that it's back,” said Southerland.
And they hope it stays where it belongs this time.
"The superstition that if you steal from a cemetery it's bad luck for the rest of your life, is completely valid. Make sure everyone knows that,” said James.
“I really feel that there's a sense of closure here now that their headstone is back and they can finally be at peace and let's hope it stays here,” said Southerland.
Nearly half of the gravestones in Comstock cemeteries have been stolen over the years, and the community hopes to welcome them all back like they did with the Joneses.