Monday, October 29, 2012

Is It Just Me Or Does Every House Come With A Tombstone?

In October of 2000 Mr. P and I purchased our beautiful, old Victorian home.  We were thrilled to say the least.  It is the exact home that Mr. P had always dreamed of living in one day.  I had another smaller one in mind, never dreaming I could ever own something as grand as this one.

We were moving from an 800 sq. foot home to one that was over 4500 sq. feet.  That is a huge difference and we were extremely fortunate that the previous owners were retiring to their cottage at the lake and were selling most of their furniture.  Between the time that we agreed to buy the house and the actual closing date we made an appointment to come and view some of the furniture for sale.

After buying several pieces the lady of the house airily announced, "You can keep the tombstones in the basement.  They're too heavy to move and I want you to know that they were here when we bought the place and my children didn't steal them!"  Mr. P and I glanced at each other.  "Tombstones?!  Where are they?" I asked.  "Behind the furnace and they are simply too heavy to move", she replied.  I gave Mr. P a look that said, good job checking out that furnace.

In buying a new home my job was to check out the size of the rooms, the decorating, if there are enough closets and if the kitchen is big enough.  Mr. P's job was to make sure the building wasn't about to collapse, the roof didn't leak (it did but we knew that), there were no problems with the plumbing and if the furnace was in good shape.  Apparently he missed the tombstones.

She never took us down to show us the tombstones and so when we finally received the key upon closing the first thing we did was go looking for the tombstones.  I guess one wasn't too heavy to move because we only ever found one tombstone.  I had been envisioning  a scene like the one above, but in my basement.  What I got was this.

It's a rather modern tombstone with the inscription "Mattie J. Lindsay wife of Archie J. McMillan".  When we first discovered it we starting making inquiries.  Nobody had ever heard of the McMillan's.  We checked the local paper.  Nothing.  We even asked the place that makes monuments two blocks away if anyone had ever stolen a tombstone from them.  They told us no.  After a while we dropped the whole thing and the tombstone took up residence in my laundry room.  Every now and then I would dust it off and wonder just how does one declutter a tombstone?!

In thinking about doing a blog post about the tombstone I decided to try one last time to find Mattie J. McMillan.  This is what I found.  Mattie was born 1895 and died in 1980.  Archie was born in 1882 and died in 1974.  They were married in the summer of 1915.  I could not find out if they ever had any children but I did discover where they were buried!  They were in a small-town cemetery about a 45 minute drive away.  It was time for a road trip!

On Saturday Mr. P and I grabbed the camera and went searching for the cemetery and we found the McMillans!  I am happy to report that Mattie now has a bigger and better tombstone than the one in my basement.

It's hard to read but it is hers.

So now I'm still stuck with the problem of how to declutter a tombstone.  Someone once told me to just turn it over and have our own names carved into the back.  That seemed a little disturbing to me.  I could always go with Mr. P's idea.  After leaving the cemetery he declared that we can now officially use the tombstone as a paperweight or a doorstop.  Since it's too heavy to even use as a Halloween decoration I think I will just leave it in the basement as a conversation piece for now.

What was the strangest thing you every discovered in a new home?


  1. Wow..a tombstone! Can't top that but I can tell you what I DIDN'T get when we bought our first house. We didn't get the cap for the sewer connection in the basement.
    So, before moving in, when we were all there painting, and of course using "the facilities" the *ahem* water wasn't going into the sewer but onto the basement floor.

    1. Wow! I'd prefer the tombstone! We've had the sewer back up a couple of times here. Not pretty!