The Mystery of the Stray Headstone

The Mystery of the Stray Headstone

About a year ago, a headstone appeared on the side of a road in the city of Weed, Calif. Jennifer Bryan, a member of the Siskiyou County Genealogical Society in Yreka, Calif., is trying to find out where it belongs. The stone has never been set into concrete, she says...

About a year ago, a headstone appeared on the side of a road in the city of Weed, Calif.

Jennifer Bryan, a member of the Siskiyou County Genealogical Society in Yreka, Calif., is trying to find out where it belongs. The stone has never been set into concrete, she says, but it is engraved:

William C. Vann
Dec., 7, 1910 – May 5, 1972

“We’ve checked with all the local cemeteries, monument stone carvers and funeral homes, and haven’t been able to local where this headstone belongs,” Jennifer writes. “We realize this may be a ‘rejected’ headstone, or perhaps it was lost in shipping and the engraver has created a new one for the family by now.”

But in case William C. Vann’s family (or maybe a delivery truck driver who got in a bit of hot water) is wondering what became of his headstone, Jennifer and her fellow society members are asking for your help.

Anyone researching a Vann family, possibly in California, that William may have belonged to? Got a theory how the stone came to be on the roadside? Click Comments (below) to post here.

Here’s a photo of the stone:

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  1. VANN WILLIAM CHARLES 12/07/1910 JORDAN VANN M IDAHO EL DORADO 05/05/1952 517-09-1165

    From the Rootsweb California Death Index

    Let me know if you need any more help…

  2. From FamilySearch.org Ancestral File it appears that it is a stone with the wrong date. He died in 1952 not 1972. He was buried at Westwood Lawn, Placerville, California, May 9, 1952,

    Finn S. Hansen

  3. 1) Take it to the Genealogy Society headquarters and use it as an example of why genealogists shouldn’t believe every thing they read on a headstone.

    2) Tip it over on its incorrect face and use the back as a really big footstone.

    3) Slice it vertically and use it for end-table tops.

    4) Coasters, lots of coasters…

  4. Good work, Frank and Finn.

    Yes, the Death Indices of the states should be the first place to look. Obviously this headstone was discarded for the mistaken year of death.

    Everyone makes mistakes and some are even carved in stone, as it were. It is a monument to INATTENTION TO DETAIL and should serve as a caution to each of us.

    Happy Dae·
    http://ShoeStringGenealogy.com

  5. I like the mounment to detail idea and lots of coasters!

    It would be interesting to find out how the headstone arrived in Weed CA. It is a town right on Interstate 5 about 60 miles south of the Oregon Border and about 150 to 180 miles north of Placerville, CA. Such a strange location to loose a headstone.

  6. And why would it get lost now, years later? I wonder if someone set it aside back in ’52 when they discovered the year was wrong, and someone else recently found it while cleaning house, and the stone fell off a truck on the way to the dump?

    Uses for an incorrect gravestone … Realistic Halloween decor. A rock garden centerpiece. Or an end table.

  7. Donna Jean Glasgow

    Well, it seems by now the mystery is solved; the date was wrong so a replacement monument was supplied. I was reminded, however, of a photo I have of my great-grandfather’s tombstone out in the cemetery. I was completely surprised, because the stone that is there now is a double, or shared stone with my great-grandmother, who passed away 26 years later. I realize that the original stone was replaced by the shared stone. Now I wonder what on earth happened to the original stone? They’re made to last, so perhaps it is out there somewhere, and someone will find it and wonder about it.

  8. I was reading some of the suggestions of what to do with the stone. Possibly you could donate it to someone who has just recently lost a child. See if it is possible to redo the front of it. That way they are only paying for the front to be done and not the whole stone. I dont know if this could be done but it is a suggestion. In these hard times many young parents loose a child and can not afford all the costs of a funeral. If you contact a few churches Im sure you could find someone that would need one. If they cant refinish the front then lay it flat on the ground if possible and use the back of it as the front.

  9. I like Angela’s suggestion to donate it to a family that has recently lost a loved one and can not afford a stone. My uncle’s stone is a "recycled" stone that belonged to a great grandmother of mine, and didn’t like her name on a grave stone before she passed. So it is possible to shave the front off and re-crave it.

  10. Reminds me of a visit to a long lost cemetery in the woods. Apparently, the church that owned it turned the records over to this man who claimed he would take care of the place and had cleared it all out and the tombstones were now visible. However, someone had been buried across the road all alone with a headstone.

    Years later I returned to see it again and all that remained was a huge pile of crushed stones and not a single headstone was standing! Strange but true and apparently some kind of revenge. We left with an uneasy feeling and never crossed the road to the other side so I don’t know what became of the loner tombstone. This occurred in a rural county in the middle of Pennsylvania.

  11. Donna Jean – If you haven’t seen the original "single" tombstone, don’t be suprised by a "double" that includes a date that’s 26 years later. My father died in 1968. His tombstone is a "double" with my mother’s name on the tombstone, and she’s still alive & well! Mom was sure it would be less expensive to just put her info on back in 1968 vs. years later. We’ll add the date of her death when that time comes…