One definition of serendipity is when someone accidently finds something good. That’s what happened to cemetery detective Tim Ogle, a retired firefighter whose passion has become locating lost gravesites.
Several years ago a friend asked Ogle to search for the burial location of a Revolutionary War soldier. Ogle believes he found that gravesite, but in the process, serendipity. In a heavily wooded area in Cedar Hill, Missouri, he located the gravesite of Constable Samuel T. Herrington, killed in the line of duty in 1871.
“I dug away about eight inches of dirt and I brushed the dirt aside and I saw ‘Samuel’. I struck, for me, gold,” said Ogle. “I found something the family had been looking for for a long time.”
What Ogle found was the headstone of Samuel T. Herrington, broken into three pieces. In the 1800’s Harrington was a constable in Osage Township, which became Irondale, MO. The Missouri Democrat newspaper reported that on October 3, 1871, Herrington was serving a warrant to search for stolen property in Irondale. According to Herrington family lore, the constable wound up at an Irondale saloon where he was attacked and killed in the line of duty.
Photos: Cemetery detective finds gravesite of 1800's constable
“He was killed by six men,” said Ogle. “They beat him up, then stabbed him with a Bowie knife on the front steps of a saloon in Irondale.”
Ogle and several other cemetery detectives cleared the overgrown gravesite, eventually preparing it for October 4, 2017, the 146th anniversary of Herrington’s death. Sheriff’s departments from Washington County and Jefferson County, were among the law enforcement representatives who honored Herrington with the police funeral he never got in 1871, including a 21 gun salute.
93-year old Norma Fuchs is the great granddaughter of Samuel Herrington. Fuchs traveled from North Carolina to Cedar Hill for the graveside ceremony.
“This is just what Grandpa Sam needed that he did not get when he died,” said Fuchs.