POSTED: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 - 7:03pm
UPDATED: Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 6:04pm
Tyler, TX (KETK) — A 19th century tombstone found during a construction project in Tyler on Monday afternoon is baffling city authorities.
The stone dates back to the 1800s, and appears to have been made for an infant. The child would have been only a couple of months old at his death.
The tombstone reads:
C.T. and J.E. Swinney
Aug. 9, 1883
Oct. 30, 1883.
Construction workers were digging in the southeast corner of a lot at the intersection of Elm St. and Broadway Ave, where a new parking structure is planned, when they made the discovery. The stone was buried about six feet underground, but there was no sign of a casket or any remains.
"It's really perplexing," says City of Tyler Engineer Carter Delleney. "We've never found anything like this before."
An environmental scientist for the City of Tyler pulled maps dating back to the late 1800s, but found no sign of a cemetery in that area. In fact, the nearest recorded churchyard cemetery wasn't built until 1912 - almost three decades after the date chiseled into the stone.
City authorities did discover that a marble yard was located on the northeast side of that property long ago, relatively close where the stone was found. The marble yard would have been operational around the same time period that the stone was created.
Officials believe that the tombstone may have been made at the marble yard, but was unused and then discarded in a nearby channel. However, they say that it doesn't diminish the value of the find.
"This is history. This is something that's been in the earth for a number of years, and now it's on earth here all these years later," Delleney said. "Makes you wonder what Tyler was like when this was put in the ground."
Authorities with the City of Tyler tell KETK that they will try to find the descendents of William T. Swinney, so that their ancestor's stone can be returned to them.
The parking project is nearing completion, so they do not expect that they will make any additional discoveries.