Springville Renovation Project Unearths Headstone Mystery

Jun 27, 2020, 7:38 AM

SPRINGVILLE, Utah — A renovation project in Springville unearthed an unexpected mystery when a man found two headstones in some aging outdoor steps.

Dustin Renter said he, his nephew and his son pulled out one step and broke it into pieces with a jackhammer, only to notice writing on the bottom as he was about to toss one of the pieces in his truck.

“I thought I had found something spectacular, and then I pieced them all back together and it turns out it was actually a grave marker or a headstone,” Renter said.

He then found another sandstone step that appeared similar to the first.

When he pulled it out and flipped it over, it was another headstone.

“It’s not something you see every day in your yard,” Renter said. “It was pretty shocking when we found it.”

The two headstones belonged to Myron Nathan Crandall, who died in 1860 at the age of 41, and his wife, Tryphena Bisbee, who died in 1863 at the age of 44.

Renter wasn’t immediately sure how the headstones wound up as steps at the home, which he said was built in 1958.

“It was unlikely that they were going to be buried in the driveway,” Renter surmised. “They were sitting around for (about) 100 years before they were put into the ground here.”

In search of answers, Renter posted his discovery to Facebook Marketplace.

Members of the Crandall family eventually spotted the post and reached out to Renter.

As it turned out, Crandall and his wife had a relatively old, single headstone that still stands today at the Springville City Cemetery near many other Crandall family gravesites.

“They are my great, great, great grandparents,” said Mem Howe, who lives in Riverton.

While it remains unclear why the older, individual headstones were discarded, Howe questioned if the situation boiled down to a typo.

“Our last name, Crandall, has two ‘Ls’ at the end, and these headstones only have one ‘L,’” she observed.

Howe said family members weren’t certain if the individual headstones for Crandall and his wife were removed from the cemetery at some point, or if they possibly never were placed there at all.

“That’s very possible that they never put them up,” she said.

Springville cemetery workers said they did not have records to explain whether or when the headstones were swapped.

Renter said he since learned that a relative of the original homeowner apparently used to make markers and monuments.

“They probably thought, ‘we’ll use them for steps,’” Howe chuckled.

Howe said she already had a new use in mind for the old headstones.

As someone who decorates for Halloween year-round, she had already found a home for them in her yard.

“I already knew that this was going to be a little mini graveyard here,” Howe said.

Though still perplexed by the find, Renter said he was glad he was able to share something meaningful with the Crandall family.

“Being able to give them back something of their past so they could have that for their family was really cool,” Renter said.

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Springville Renovation Project Unearths Headstone Mystery