Waveland man finds 18 tombstones in backyard, one dating back to 1800s

Waveland resident John White shows what he believes to be the oldest partial tombstone he found...
Waveland resident John White shows what he believes to be the oldest partial tombstone he found in his back yard, with a date of 1875.(wlox)
Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 6:15 PM CDT
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WAVELAND, Miss. (WLOX) - A Waveland man has an unsolved mystery. In November last year, John White discovered a surprise in his backyard just off Jeff Davis Avenue.

He was digging around the stump of an old tree when he heard something clank.

And that’s when I found Catherine,” he said.

White had discovered a partial tombstone, but the name was incomplete - with just the letters “E-R-I-N-E” visible. He was at a loss.

“Until I found the other part, which may go with this, and it says “C-A-T-H,” and that fits with Catherine.”

And the mystery widened as the excavation continued. While planting a rose bush for his wife, he discovered more artifacts,18 partial tombstones in all.

The last ones found just weeks ago are among the most intriguing.

“They’re the oldest of any of them that I can determine,” he said. “This one it looks like is November 13, 1875.”

His research and conversations with the Hancock County Historical Society members have revealed little. He’s not sure if the property was an old cemetery or, worse, if former property owners had used old tombstones as rubble for ground fill.

In any case, he wants to protect these pieces of history.

“I can’t in good conscious, throw these away,” White said. “I’m either going to find a home for them with maybe a possible family member. Or, they’re going to be up here under this beautiful sky of South Mississippi and this is where they will rest.”

And, more may come.

“My wife says no more digging,” he said. “But, I’m sure, I may accidentally moving a weed or something and here comes another one.”

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