1771 Tombstone Returned to New London

The headstone belonging to an infant, disappeared decades ago.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The Day
    The headstone, which dates back to 1771, had been missing for 43 years.

    A headstone missing from an infant's grave has been returned 43 years after it first disappeared.

    In 1968, while visiting her father at the Sub base in Groton where he was stationed, Linda Hein, who was 20 at the time, and two of her friends found a pile of what they considered to be discarded headstones in Ye Towne's Ancientest Buriall Place. It is the oldest cemetery in New London County, according to The Day of New London.

    In a letter to the city, Hein, who lives in Wisconsin, told the story of how her friend took the headstone that read "Samuel, Son of Sam'l and Elizabeth Latim..". The rest of the engraving had been rubbed away.

    Hein said the friend put the tombstone in the trunk of her car, but flew home, and didn't make the drive back. So the gravemarker stayed with Hein all of these years. She said it didn't seem right to discard it, so she kept it, even bringing it with her when she moved from place to place.

    Hein decided to return it to New London when she made a trip to Connecticut at the end of October.

    "In my 26 years working here, I've seen a lot of things turned in, but I was surprised to see someone in my office with a headstone," City Clerk Michael Tranchida told The Day.

    Tranchida decided to find out more about the headstone, so he contacted a genealogist from Groton who did research to find out whose tombstone it may have been. According to the genealogist, it appears it belonged to 10-month-old Samuel Latimer, who died Oct. 26, 1771, four years before the start of the Revolutionary War.

    "I did feel guilty about taking it," Hein told the paper.

    Tranchida said he hopes the headstone is returned to its original location in the cemetery.