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A mystery of tombstones

Posted: September 13, 2011 3:56 p.m.
Updated: September 14, 2011 5:00 a.m.
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Staff at the Camden Archives and Museum searched for more than 15 years to pinpoint the original location of three displaced tombstones. The origin of one of the tombstones was determined and it was returned. With no conclusive leads uncovered for the remaining markers -- for Rebecca Sanders and Walter Lampman -- they were installed in Quaker Cemetery.

More than 15 years ago, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office deputies brought three tombstones to the Camden Archives and Museum, hoping the archives director and staff could help find their origins.

One tombstone has since been placed in its proper cemetery in Chester County.

Mystery still surrounds the remaining two.

Archives Director Howard Branham said the tombstones now stand in Camden’s Quaker Cemetery. After years of searching statewide cemetery records, census records, death certificates and the Social Security death index, Branham said his staff still could not learn where the other two tombstones came from.

“It’s been a challenge … a mystery to solve. We have researched them a number of times, thoroughly trying to determine where those tombstones came from,” Branham said. “It’s sad that they have been moved, and that nobody knows anything about them. I’m sure they must have family somewhere wondering what happened to them.”

Branham said it didn’t take long to set Doyle Audrey Horne’s tombstone in its correct place at a Chester County church cemetery. An old newspaper obituary matched the dates found on Doyle’s tombstone: he was born in April 1897 and died in June 1962.

“The historian from the church where the cemetery is picked it up and took it back to the cemetery where it came from,” he said. “She was surprised to learn that it showed up in Kershaw County -- the person who picked it up knew that it was where it was supposed to be in 1981.”

Although placing Doyle’s tombstone proved to be fairly easy, Branham said solving the mystery of Walter Lampman and Rebecca Sanders’ tombstones has been a little bit more difficult.

Sanders was born on Oct. 13, 1847, and died on Dec. 7, 1877. Lampman was born in 1906 and died in 1987.

“Well, we found a Walter Lampman under the 1930 census in New York. The dates seem to fit, but we just can’t say if that’s him and why he would be here all the way from New York,” he said. “And we just haven’t been able to find anything on (Sanders). I found a Rebecca Sanders on the 1870 census in Cheraw that could be her, but we can’t really prove it.”

Branham said staff made the decision to make Quaker Cemetery the final resting place for Lampman and Sanders’ tombstones after Friends of the Camden Archives and Museum Vice Chairman John Miller took an interest and also researched the tombstones. While acknowledging Quaker is not likely to be their right home, Branham said he’s relieved to know the tombstones will finally be able to be placed in a cemetery after spending more than a decade on the grounds of the Camden Archives.

“They didn’t come from Quaker, but at least they’re in a cemetery now and not on our grounds,” he said. “I don’t know … maybe somebody will recognize the names and know something about them. It would be nice to finally solve the mystery.”

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