A 5-foot-tall headstone missing for 146 years has been restored to its rightful place in a Michigan cemetery after it was discovered in the home of a family who used it to make fudge. The gravestone of Peter J. Weller was lost in 1875, 26 years after his 1849 death, as his grave was moved from Oak Park Cemetery to Mount Hope Cemetery in Lansing, according to the Friends of Lansing's Historic Cemeteries. Its location was unknown until an auctioneer began cleaning out the Okemos home of a family matriarch who’d moved to a nursing home, per MLive.
Brad Stoecker of Epic Auctions & Estate Sales says he turned over a huge granite slab to find the name and death date of the man who'd opened a combination restaurant-grocery store in Lansing after settling in the area in 1845. Unsure of the slab's rightful place, Stoecker listed it for sale at auction. It was then spotted by a person who alerted the FOLHC. "No one in family knew how or when they came to be in possession of it. The homeowners just said, 'We used the backside of it to make fudge,'" President Loretta S. Stanaway tells MLive. The family wasn't related to Weller in any way, per WSYM.
Stoecker ultimately donated the headstone, which was installed at Weller's grave, part of a 10-plot family gravesite, at the FOLHC's direction. Unable to locate any living relatives of the Weller family, the group also paid to have the headstones of Weller's daughters, Christina and Lucretia, repaired and re-erected as they were broken and buried in dirt. "I think it's only proper and respectful," Stanaway told WILX last month, calling Weller a "pioneer." "This is part of his legacy." A dedication ceremony will take place Sunday. (Read more Michigan stories.)