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Bill Shields, 83, stands between the tombstones of his great-great-grandparents, Lewis and Sarah Shields, and their two young children, Mary and Addison. Below, the tombstones of the sister and brother, who died in 1841 and 1845, respectively, were restored and erected in Riddle Cemetery in western Crawford County by the Crawford County Historical and Genealogical Society. (Photos by Chris Adams)

'Almost a miracle'

Tombstones find rightful home more than 150 years later

October 15, 2008
It was a rainy Mother's Day earlier this year that Crawford County Historian Richard Eastridge and his wife, Priscilla, made the trip to Perry County to pick up a package. However, it wasn't any ordinary pickup. What they picked up were the tombstones of two small children — Mary A. and Addison H. Shields — who died in 1841 and 1845, respectively.

The tombstones of the sister and brother, about ages 2 and 3, were bought for $1 by an antique dealer, Penny Coleman, at an auction in what she believed was Perry County. Coleman, who only bought them so they wouldn't be destroyed, took the stones to Evansville for storage.

Years later, she told an antique appraiser, Jim Sanders, about the tombstones. Sanders then contacted Darla Olberding, originally from Perry County. Olberding called Chuck Poehlein at the Perry County Museum, and took the stones to Cannelton.

Poehlein asked Evelyn Lasley, the genealogist of the Tell City-Perry County Library, for help in finding the rightful home of the tombstones. Lasley asked a former co-worker, Pam Drake, to search the Internet for information about the children's parents. Linda Zapp, of Greenwood, e-mailed information she found that pointed to the children's parents being buried in Riddle Cemetery.

Lasley, in "Hoosier Heritage," a genealogical magazine, noted that Riddle Cemetery sits near the Crawford-Perry County line and there is a Goad-Riddle Cemetery in Perry County, which could explain some of the confusion on Coleman's part.

Knowing where the stones should be located, Lasley contacted Richard Eastridge, who agreed to make the trip to the Perry County Museum to pick them up. Eastridge and others agreed to restore the stones and erect them next to that of the children's parents. The stones were erected in August by the Crawford County Historical and Genealogical Society.

The conclusion to a process that began years ago with Coleman saving the stones by purchasing them at an auction was held during ceremony Saturday afternoon. Unlike the Mother's Day, when the Eastridges picked up the stones, that was cold and rainy, Saturday was a beautiful day, highlighted by a picture-perfect blue sky.

The event featured descendants of the Shields family, including 83-year-old Bill Shields, who is the great-great-grandson of Mary and Addison's parents, Lewis and Sarah.

"I was thrilled they (the tombstones) were found and got to us," he said. "It was almost a miracle."

Jim Kaiser, a member of the Crawford County Historical and Genealogical Society, remarked: "We have witnessed the preservation of history here today. … In my view, we have also paid a high honor to these individuals and to the Creator. We thank each of you for taking your time to share this experience."

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    Thanks Chuck!!
    October 15, 2008 | 05:22 PM

    Chuck Pohlein also collects and restores Log Cabins at Rocky Point perry co. He rescued my GRGRGrandfather Adam Shoemakers cabin and restored it at Shubeal Little Pioneer Village, Adam was Abe Lincolns preacher and teacher at Little Pidgeon Creek Church when they all attened-YES ABE HELPED BUILD The Church!!

    Nadine Shoemaker Arnold in Fl
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