On July 21, 1922 while tearing down two houses “to the south of Water Street between East State and Walnut Streets” a mystery was uncovered.  The owner of the property, Daniel Shoudy, was assisting with the tear-down of houses that were located next to the Rockford Steam Boiler works when he discovered what he described as a “grass covered cairn”.  Accompanying this cairn was a stone that had the following carved into it:

ST M 13 1883

That was not all that Shoudy found, though. In the basement of one of the houses very close to the cairn were two headstones.  One headstone was inscribed:

Lewis L.
Son of G.W. and M. Hodgson
Born May 2, 1850
Died September 20, 1851
Aged 1 year 4 mos.


The other tombstone read:

Wife of J. Marks
Died December 13, 1845
Aged 45 years

Different scenarios were offered in the original article announcing the macabre find.  Possibilities included a scenario of a husband that had buried his wife there, a family that buried a beloved child, or someone who couldn’t stand to think of their loved one placed in a cold dark cemetery away from their home and family and made the decision to bury them close.  As for the headstones, suggestions were made that the headstones may have no bearing on the grave. They might have just been left over when an early cemetery was abandoned.

None of the historians I know have been able to solve this mystery.  No searches into obituaries, city directories, nor even online sources have brought forth any information. It appears that the mystery of who these people were, where they were from, how they died, and the main question of why their tombstones were found in someone’s basement is no closer to being solved than when they were discovered over 90 years ago.