- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

SPEARFISH, S.D. (AP) - South Dakota authorities have returned a 126-year-old tombstone to Tennessee, after it was stolen this summer only to turn up weeks later in a Spearfish alley during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

S.J. Elliot’s 1888 tombstone, like that of his wife, is inscribed with the epitaph, “We shall meet again.” It was reported stolen from the cemetery in Manchester, Tennessee, in July, the Black Hills Pioneer reported (https://bit.ly/1ruaWFc ).

A resident of Spearfish found Elliot’s tombstone in an alley during last month’s motorcycle rally, which drew hundreds of thousands of people from around the country to western South Dakota, according to Spearfish police Officer Kale Nelson. He said it would likely remain a mystery how it ended up more than 1,300 miles away from where it was stolen.

Thinking it might have been stolen from a nearby cemetery, Nelson turned to Spearfish’s cemetery sexton, Karla Weber, who didn’t find a match while searching local records. She then turned to the Internet and was able to find out whose tombstone it was after coming across a website that posts photos and information about graves around the nation.

“It was eerie,” she said.

Nelson said how the tombstone traveled to Spearfish probably will remain a mystery. Police shipped the 60-pound stone back to Coffee County, where it arrived in two pieces. Authorities plan to have it restored and returned to its cemetery.

Weber said she shed a few tears knowing the two tombstones will be reunited - as the epitaph says.

“She (Elliot’s wife) died in 1885, and the inscription on her stone also reads ‘We shall meet again.’ And then, boy, let’s just say I had a ‘moment,’” Weber said.

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Information from: Black Hills Pioneer, https://www.bhpioneer.com

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