The mystery of a gravestone found in a Gloucester storage locker

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GLOUCESTER, Mass. — Todd Flannery is a mover based in Lynn and his hobby is buying other people's junk at storage locker auctions.

That's how he found a gravestone last week in Gloucester.

"It's fun, because it's opening a treasure chest, you know?" Flannery said. "I don't want it to go in a landfill. It looks so old and everybody I talked to thought it was 1700s, which is almost what, 300 years? So, it was a cool find, but I definitely want to get it back in the right hands."

The name on it is "Mrs. H. Kendall." And while the locker had other items in it, like checks with the last name Woodberry," legally, the storage company can't give out the name of the family who owned the locker.

Fletcher has become determined to track down Mrs. Kendall's family himself and learn her story.

"This is somebody's great-great-great-great-grandma, or aunt," he said.

We brought the gravestone to a local gravestone conservator who told us, sadly, it's not unusual for gravestones to be neglected and then become separated from their rightful owners. He says in this case, this is a footstone, meaning somewhere there is a headstone that it belongs to.

"I can guess from the fact that it's a slate stone that it's just maybe 1700s early 1800s," Epoch Preservation co-owner Joshua Gerloff said.

Gerloff spends a lot of time inside North Shore cemeteries restoring gravestones and knows the clues to look for.

"These carvers they had their own shop and they would do their own design like over and over and over again," he explained. "We'll have to cross reference it with the design and see if any other carvers used that design."

Gerloff has solved mysteries like this one before, but he says it's difficult -- especially because so many old graveyards in New England haven't been catalogued or mapped.

Still, Flannery and Gerloff are hoping together -- by calling around to local cemeteries and posting on social media -- they'll be able to reunite Mrs. Kendall's marker with her grave.

MORE: Local woman working to restore Revolutionary era cemetery in disrepair