A small child who passed away 150 years ago may be resting a little easier today.
Nannie L. Craig didn’t have a chance to leave her mark on Lebanon or Laclede County. She was 13 months old when she died on Oct. 1, 1862. It’s unclear whether she even has any family members remaining in the area. Her grave at the Hooker Cemetery on the outskirts of Lebanon has been unmarked because her tombstone had been propped up in a corner of the Lebanon City Hall basement for decades.
The tombstone piqued the curiosity of Lebanon Senior Planner Joe Berkich.
“Throughout my career with the city, I’ve always seen this tombstone in the basement. Every time I turned around, here was this tombstone, and I just never really looked at it,” Berkich said.
Then in 2009, while the basement was being cleaned out for the City Hall renovation, Berkich took a closer look at the tombstone. He saw that it belonged to Nannie L. Craig, daughter of Thomas and Mary (McPhail) Craig. Nannie Craig was born Sept. 1, 1861, and died Oct. 1, 1862.
Berkich took the tombstone upstairs to his office. He jotted down the information and then he and his wife, Linda, started doing some research. As the renovation project was completed, the tombstone went back to the basement and Berkich’s office was moved to the Public Works building, but it never completely left Berkich’s mind.
“My job duties have changed, so I’ve come back to City Hall. I was down in the basement doing some research for a project and there was that tombstone again. So it just kept crossing my path,” Berkich said.
With the help of other long-time residents, the mystery of where Nannie Craig’s tombstone belonged was solved.
Nobody seemed to know why the tombstone was stored in the basement with other police department items.
“It was there for as long as I can remember,” said Lebanon Police Chief Randy Halstead, a 30-year veteran of the department.
One theory is that the tombstone was brought there after one of the many instances in which the Hooker Cemetery was vandalized. Located in a sparsely populated area along the edge of Peach Drive, also known as Old Wire Road, Hooker Cemetery has been an easy target, according to area resident Richard Crow. His family is buried in the cemetery on property that was once the Benjamin Hooker farm, and now the L.D. Dampier farm.
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