WATERFORD - The entrance to the Oliver Tucker Museum in Beverly might seem like an odd place for the headstone of notable Waterford farmer and soldier Rotheus Hayward, who died in 1842 at the age of 60.
But as Hayward already had not one, but two other headstones, the museum seemed like an appropriate place to display the third one after it was found in 2011, said Phillip Crane, a researcher for the Lower Muskingum Historical Society.
"He has the stone at the museum. He has a stone at the Hayward House, which today is the home of Bess and Donny Sparling, and he has one in the Beverly Cemetery," said Crane.
Three headstones for a notable Waterford farmer and soldier Rotheus Hayward, who died in 1842 at the age of 60 are on display at the entrance to the Oliver Tucker Museum in Beverly. (Photo by Jasmine Rogers)
Hayward was a captain in the militia and served in the War of 1812. Throughout his life he accumulated around 500 acres of farm land near the mouth of Wolf Creek, said Crane.
The stone at the Beverly Cemetery has been in place for more than 100 years, and it was thought to be Hayward's only headstone until one Waterford resident dug up the second Hayward headstone in 1978.
Sparling Road resident Tom Doak, who lives on part of the property once owned by Hayward, had always known there had been an old family cemetery located on his property. It was simply information that was passed down through the years, he said.
But finding an actual headstone there while he was digging post holes for a corn crib in 1978 was somewhat of a surprise.
"They were supposed to have moved over all those tombstones when they moved the road around," said Doak, referring to the realignment of Sparling Road.
The tombstone was buried about two feet underground and was almost perfectly intact, recalled Doak.
"My dad ended up giving it to Bess and Donny, who live in Hayward's house," he said.
Just up the road, Bess Sparling lives in the beautiful brick home that Hayward built in 1819. Sparling has always prized the gravestone, she said.
When a tornado struck in 2000, it knocked the heavy stone to the ground, she recalled.
"My son asked if I wanted it set up again and I said 'Why yes. Of course,'" she said.
As the years went on, the corn crib grew over and Doak started mowing the area as part of the yard.
Then in 2011, he saw another piece of stone about 20 yards from where he found the previous marker.
"So I called Phill and we dug it up," said Doak.
Inexplicably, it was a third headstone belonging to Rotheus Hayward, almost identical in design and inscription as the one Doak had dug up more than three decades earlier.
"So Tom and his wife Lois were generous enough to donate this one to the museum," said Crane.
It is not certain why Hayward would have so many similar markers, he said.
However, it is possible that it is because he was married twice, and both wives wanted to have Hayward's resting place marked beside them, said Crane.
His second wife, Rebecca Gray Hayward, shares his marker in the Beverly Cemetery, and it is likely that Rotheus' body was moved there beside her when she passed in 1876, he said.
Doak, who recently built a barn near the site of the found stones, is fairly certain that the discoveries are over.