New Haven County, Connecticut
- The North Haven Citizen, 21 January 2011
"Headstone missing for 40 years will return to North Haven
Last week, officials solved a North Haven mystery when they located a long-missing, two-centuries-old tombstone.Pic: North Haven Citizen
Clinton's Sgt. Jeremiah Dunn recently reported that the town's Police Department found a 215-year-old gravestone while cleaning out the old Clinton police building. Through an Internet search, Clinton officers learned that a North Haven family was a likely source for the tombstone.
In 1888, North Haven's Town Historian Sheldon Thorpe recorded an inventory of all the graves in the Old Center Cemetery on Town Green. In this inventory was the grave of Mrs. Ruth Sackitt, who died on March 27th, 1796. Born in 1755, she was the third wife of Mr. Solomon Sackitt.
It is unknown when Sackitt's headstone went missing but it was recorded as such by Gloria Furnival in her book "On-The-Green," published in 1995. The consensus of opinion at the Clinton Police Department is the headstone was entered into their evidence system in the 1970's. However, the reason why has been lost to history.
North Haven Police Chief James X. DiCarlo assigned to the case Office Ted Stockman, who enlisted the aid of North Haven's Historical Society. It was determined that the gravestone definitely belonged in the North Haven Center Cemetery on the North Haven Green. It is one of approximately 25 grave stones that have been reported missing over the years.
In Clinton the headstone was discovered underneath debris by Public Works employee Jeff Heser, while the clean out was underway for building remodeling. Ten years ago, Clinton Police moved to a new site. Now the mystery begins.
The headstone is a typical, ornate marker from Colonial times. It includes the verse "Death is a debt to nature due, that I have paid and so must you." Many Colonial headstones display verses the author felt appropriate.
Complicating the mystery was the gravestone's spelling of "Sackitt," a surname known locally today as "Sackett." However, it is relatively common for spellings of family names to evolve and change over time—Ellis Island's affect comes to mind.
It is more probable that legal documents drawn up by town clerks contained misspellings, and the alterations were adopted by the subject of the document. A probable exception to this was the masons who carved the stones. The North Haven Historical society has a collection of stones that were never finished because they contained errors. Many of the masons who worked in North Haven did so for periods of 10 years, carving numerous stones. Accuracy in the stones was very important to them.
Unfortunately, the headstone is broken into three pieces. Lynn Fredericksen, vice chairwoman of the North Haven Cemetery Commission, said "We will have it properly reinstalled on her grave as soon as we can." The stone will be retrieved from Clinton's Police Department and will be stored at North Haven's Historical Society to give the Cemetery Commission time to develop a plan for the repair and placement of the headstone.
So, after 40 years, Mrs. Ruth Turner Sackitt's headstone will return to the Old Center Cemetery. On any nice day you can observe people, many with their children, touring the graveyard on Town Green. Here is the history of North Haven. It is now one step closer to being complete.
Anyone interested in further research should visit the North Haven Historical in the Cultural Center on Broadway. The center is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The public is welcome."
The North Haven Citizen, online edition (http://northhaven.ctcitizens.com/).