The answer to a question about a headstone found last week laying in the middle of a busy highway in Statesboro leads to yet another question.
Steve Knable, who works for Georgia Southern University’s ROTC department, said he lost the headstone while moving it from the university’s old ROTC building to the new one. However, Knable doesn’t know how it found its way to the old building the first place.
The headstone of Arthur S. Thompson, who is buried at Union Primitive Baptist Church on Highway 56 in Swainsboro, was replaced in 1999 when the family bought a new one for the graves of Henry Thompson’s parents.
Henry Thompson assumed his father’s old headstone was taken away by the monument company, who installed the new headstones. But last week, Ross Cairney, husband of Statesboro Herald employee Jennifer Morriss, spotted the grave marker as he was driving on Northside Drive West near Boyd’s Barbecue. Morris had him pick it up and bring it to the Herald office to find where it belonged.
Thompson first learned of the discovery after his cousin told him about an article that ran in the Statesboro Herald on Tuesday seeking the marker’s rightful owner, and he came to the office to retrieve the headstone Wednesday.
After a second story appeared in Thursday’s Herald about the headstone being claimed, Knable was informed by coworkers, “Hey, you’re on the front page of the paper,” he said.
Knable said that he was cleaning out the old ROTC building in preparation for the move to the new building when he found the headstone “back in a corner behind some cabinets.”
The grave marker was so heavy that he asked for help getting it onto a dolly and then a trailer he pulled behind his vehicle.
“It took two of us to get it on the trailer,” he said. “I bet it weighed 100 pounds.”
He took the marker home, intending to bring it back to the new ROTC building the next day and get help removing it from the trailer and storing it again at the new location.
But “apparently, it fell off the trailer,” he said. “I didn’t even know I lost it until I got to work.”
He retraced his path, but apparently Cairney had already picked up the headstone by the time Knable made his second trip down Northside Drive West.
Knable said he is “glad it found its rightful home.”
“I don’t know how in the world it wound up in our building,” he said.
Thompson said he plans to have the stone cleaned and will keep it. He is the last of his family who is still living.
Thompson was 6 years old, and his family had just moved from Wrens to Swainsboro when his father died. Arthur S. Thompson worked at a gas station in Swainsboro near where the Dairy Queen stands today, and he passed away after having a massive heart attack while pumping gas there, he said.
Arthur S. Thompson, according to his grave marker, was born on May 22, 1912, and died on Jan. 31, 1964 — 53 years ago.
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.