Small Blessings: After more than a century, child's headstone back in family's hands

Published on Monday, 31 March 2014 23:12 - Written by KELLY GOOCH

A baby’s headstone has made it to the family more than a century after the child’s death.

The tombstone, from 1883, was found in January at the new parking garage site at Elm Street and Broadway Avenue downtown. Rodney Kinard, foreman with L&L Asphalt Corp., unearthed the tombstone.

According to maps, a marble yard was located on the northeast corner of the parking garage site, so it is believed that the baby’s tombstone was manufactured in that marble yard, Tyler City Engineer Carter Delleney said.

On Monday, Ronald and Nelda Swinney received the tombstone, which displays the name of a 2-month-old child named William T. Swinney. The child’s father, Charles T. Swinney, is Ronald Swinney’s great-great-uncle.

Nelda Swinney said she heard about the tombstone through the news and was later put in contact with Delleney.

Through family history, the dots were eventually connected, she said.

Delleney said it was determined that Thomas Troup was the father of Charles T. Swinney, whose name was on the headstone as the child’s father.

Sam Kidd, with the Smith County Historical Society, said in January that records show the child was born to Charles T. Swinney and his wife, Josie, who married in 1882 in Smith County.

Kidd previously said the parents listed their occupation as farmers in the 1890 census, and William, with his birth date in August 1883, appeared to be the first born of seven children.

The records show the children went to the Model School in Smith County.

When asked about a future ceremony for laying the headstone, Ronald Swinney said he anticipates a family gathering at some point.

The tombstone will be kept at the Swinney home in the interim and then placed at Bascom Cemetery.

“I think it’s better that we have it placed at the cemetery near family … rather than it being in a building or a warehouse,” Mrs. Swinney said.

Her husband said, “I’m just glad all of this is going to be put to rest.”

In the meantime, construction continues on the parking garage, which is expected to open in June.

Delleney previously said that the parking garage will include a tower, which will house parts of a historical clock that was displayed on top of the old Smith County Courthouse.

When it is complete, the parking garage will feature four levels, including the ground level, as well as 384 parking spaces. It will be a public parking garage with a fee-based parking system.



Staff Writer Kenneth Dean and Business Editor Casey Murphy contributed to this story.