The discovery of a stolen 1800s tombstone has led a Clark County Sheriff’s Office Deputy on a mission to return the grave marker to its original home.
A fisherman at Buck Creek State Park found the tombstone in the water late last week, said Ron Ray — who works in the Clark County Sheriff’s Office property room.
“It was shocking that someone would take a tombstone and transport it somewhere else and dump it like a piece of trash,” Ray said.
A deputy picked up the tombstone and brought it to the North Fountain Street sheriff’s office, where it now safely sits in the property room.
In the meantime, Ray has taken it upon himself to learn about the woman whose name the stone bears.
It reads: “Rebecca S. — wife of J. W. Kills.”
With the help of people at the Clark County Historical Society, Ancestry.com and the Clark County Public Library, Ray uncovered that Rebecca Kills was the wife of Jacob Kills.
She died in 1859 and was buried in Greenmount Cemetery, which is located in the city block along Greenmount Avenue and East Main Street.
The cemetery sits across the street from the Westcott House, on High Street. Tom Fyffe, chief financial officer of the Westcott House, said he hates to hear about vandalism of the historic cemetery.
“It’s just a shame that people have such a lack of respect for other people and their property and their history. Why would they want to do something like this?” Fyffe said.
The cemetery was active from the early 1840s until until the turn of the 20th century, said Kevin Rose, a historian with the Turner Foundation.
The Kills family included successful business owners in the early 1800s in Springfield, Ray said, and manufactured paper in Springfield. Their mill was located along Buck Creek at Mill Run, where the Springfield Regional Medical Center and Springfield Regional Cancer Center now sit.
Now that he has uncovered who the stone belongs to, Ray said he hopes to be able to return it to its proper place in the cemetery.
“I personally would like to see the stone reset,” Ray said. “I’m not sure how to go about getting that done. But I’m sure there’s somebody out there who could help us or would help us.”
Ray is looking for any ancestors of the Kills family to come forward. He searched the phone book to see if any of the Kills family still lives in the Clark County area, but hasn’t found any.
The sheriff’s office said it does not know who vandalized the tombstone, but will keep it safe in the property room and work to get it back to its intended place of rest.