Man finds buried tombstone while gardening

By Stacy

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- Chris Leigh-Jones restores historical houses with his company, Luxury Simplified. He finds all kinds of things when he works, he said.

"Coins are common, little bits of earrings and jewelry, but never quite one like this before," he said.

He's talking about what he found while gardening at one of his company's homes on East Bay Street.

"I was digging an area of soil that didn't drain well. So I'm down about a foot when I hit a marble stone, which I pulled out of the ground," he said.

It was a tombstone, marked only with the initials "SMH" and the year: 1843. Archaeologist Eric Poplin said it was probably part of a pair.

"It's typical of foot stones you'd see when you have a paired headstone and foot stone," Poplin said.

According to Charleston death records, there is a person with the initials "SMH" who died of small pox in 1843. But, there weren't enough details to know anything for sure, he said.

The records listed that person as a slave. But Poplin said that didn't match up with the foot stone being made of marble.

"They would likely be a person of status or at least they could afford to buy the headstone and the foot stone. A lot of times people could only afford to buy one or the other," he said.

There are several other possibilities; Poplin said the Charleston peninsula has been dug up and built over for years.

But, Leigh-Jones said he was happy to leave his garden to grow peacefully. He will not be digging anymore.

"I don't want to find some things," he joked.

If there is someone there, they're best left alone, he said.

Poplin did not believe there would be a body buried with it in the garden.

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