Tombstone mystery remains intact

August 08, 1997


Staff Writer

The backyard tombstone has found a new home, but the 140-year-old mystery it is shrouded in remains mostly unscathed.

On Wednesday officials with Rose Hill Cemetery agreed to have the tombstone of Julia Anna Schindel placed at the Schindel family plot, said Peggy Schindel Hunt, who spent much of the day trying to find a dignified location for the slab of marble that until recently was being used as second base for neighborhood sandlot ball games.

"Isn't that great?" said Hunt, the great-great-granddaughter of Julia Schindel.

But whether Julia Schindel and her husband, Samuel Schindel, are even buried at the cemetery plot is still not known, Hunt said. Nor is it known how the tombstone ended up behind a home at 105 W. Washington St.

It was unanswered questions like those that prompted Hunt, armed with various family records and heirlooms, to travel from her home near Winchester, Va., to Hagerstown Wednesday.


Her first visit was to Virginia Starliper, whose son and a friend dug up the tombstone three months ago while looking for worms behind the West Washington Street home.

"I was just amazed when she showed up at my door," Starliper, who lives at 21 W. Antietam St., said of Hunt.

Hunt showed Starliper various items, including land records, a family Bible, an old baby book and engraved Schindel silverware that she hoped would aid her in her search.

"It's my heritage, my roots," Hunt said.

She learned of her ancestor's tombstone last Friday by reading a newspaper story that was mailed to her from a friend in Martinsburg, W.Va., who thought there might be a family connection.

Hunt, who enjoys studying her own genealogy, knew immediately she was reading about the wife of Samuel E. Schindel Sr.

According to J. Thomas Scharf's "History of Western Maryland," Julia and Samuel Schindel were buried at Rose Hill. She died in 1858 and he passed away in 1863.

There is a Schindel family plot at the cemetery, though the names on the monument have become weathered and unreadable. But after going to the cemetery and meeting with an official there, it was agreed the Schindel plot would be the best home for the tombstone.

A Rose Hill official could not be reached for comment.

Hunt said it would have been nice to uncover more of the tombstone's mystery, but she doubts if the full story will ever be known.

"I wish we knew, but I don't think there's any way of ever finding out," she said.

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