Two Headstone Confusion

Updated: May 11, 2021

It does not happen often but once in a while, a researcher will come across an ancestor who has two headstones. This can be baffling someone trying to locate their ancestor's burial site. In several instances, it is because one of the headstones was placed as a memorial. When there is no memorial marker at the site many will assume it is the burial location. If you find two locations with no mention of either being a memorial you would not know for sure without doing further research.

This happened in the case of Hon. Joseph Hawkins (1781-1832). He has grave markers located at Clark Cemetery in Henderson, NY, and at Military Cemetery in Sackets Harbor, NY. The distance between the two markers is only about 10 miles. From looking at the condition of both grave markers you can tell they had both been there a while.

Both grave markers also have a memorial page on Find A Grave. This should not be the case because each deceased is allowed one memorial page on the website. Since Hawkins was the Twenty-first U.S. Congressman for New York (1829-1831) he falls into the category of Famous People. Therefore Find A Grave controls his memorial page, which is the one for Clark Cemetery. Someone else added the memorial page with the Sackets Harbor marker.

Upon further investigation into how the headstone ended up in Sackets Harbor, it was uncovered that in 1986 Hawkins descendants campaigned to have the impressive marble tablet moved to the military cemetery in Sackets Harbor. This is where it is today even though Hawkins never served in the military. It has been said that the tablet grave marker was moved there because of Hawkins's service to his nation as a U.S. Congressman and deserved to have the marker placed there.

Recently the condition of the marble tablet was brought up to the town of Sackets Harbor about repairing it. This request brought up questions as to why the grave marker was even in their cemetery when Hawkins was a resident of Henderson, NY. Upon contacting the Henderson Historical Society it is now on investigations as to who authorized the relocation of the grave marker and that it should have never been moved in the first place. Henderson Historical Society would like to see it returned to Hawkins's burial location at Clark Cemetery where Hawkins and his wife are both buried.

The two grave markers at two locations for the same person can be very confusing to an individual who visits the headstone at the military cemetery in Sackets Harbor. There is no marker to explain that this is a memorial site only. Since writing this I have reached out to Find A Grave to help take down the memorial page for Joseph Hawkins with information placing his gravesite at the military cemetery at Sackets Harbor. Fingers crossed the Henderson Historical Society can get the headstone return to its rightful place.