CHARLESTON, Ill. (WCIA)–Donna Stewart knows a lot about history. She runs Mound Cemetery in Charleston, and is a member of the genealogical society in Coles County. It makes her the perfect person to solve a mystery left right at her office door.
“I was shocked,” Stewart said. “I had no idea where she came from or where she’d been all these years.”
The tombstone belongs to Lucy Curd, who Stewart believes was around ten years old when she died 178 years ago. It makes her tombstone one of the oldest tombstones in the area.
“She was probably buried on the north side of town,” Stewart said. “And by the time her parents died, they were buried here.”
Her parents are Edmund and Eliza Curd. The family settled in the area in 1836, right around the time Charleston was established. Eliza was one of the first people to be buried in Mound Cemetery in 1862. Edmund Curd joined his wife there twenty years later, and Lucy’s siblings are next to their parents. Stewart said Lucy wasn’t buried with her family because she died before them.
“At that point, they buried people in little family cemeteries,” Stewart said. “Just either in the back yard or in her neighborhood.”
Stewart doesn’t know where Lucy’s tombstone came from, or if any of her descendants are still around, but by joining her family at mound cemetery, the family is one step closer to being reunited.
“I believe, if the ancestry trees are correct, she had a little brother that died four years before she did, maybe in the same place,” Stewart said.
That tombstone, which would belong to Sylvester Curd, may not exist, as Lucy’s tombstone is already an incredibly rare find in Coles County. While Stewart waits to find a permanent place to put Lucy’s stone, she’s looking for his potential whereabouts.