Elise Armand was going through her storage shed over the weekend when she saw the tombstone on the ground between the building and her garage.
She just closed on the Salt Lake City home last month and hadn’t seen the large stone marker before because it was covered in snow.
The headstone was engraved with the names of three children — two of them twins — who died in the winter of 1898 and 1899.
Armand did some investigating and found out that the children’s grave is in Mount Olivet Cemetery, which is on the other side of the city.
“My first thought when I saw a tombstone in my yard was that this doesn’t belong here and it must have been stolen,” she told CNN.
When she contacted the cemetery, they said that the grave stone had been replaced and they did not want it back.
A neighbor told Armand that the home’s original owner had the same maiden name as the children so Armand was able to connect them.
Armand found out that the children, who were all less than 3 years old when they died, were the original home owner’s aunts.
The homeowner had the original stone brought to her house when the replacement was installed.
“What happened is her sister had paid to replace the stone as it got worn and wanted it for her garden in the Seattle area,” Armand said. “But before she could get it to Seattle, I guess her husband said ‘I don’t want the tombstone in my garden,’ and then she never figured out what to do with it.”
She offered to try to find a way to get the headstone to Seattle, but the sister decided it would be better to give it to someone who would appreciate the headstone’s historical value.
Armand is contacting local historic preservation groups to try to find the headstone a new home.