Alan Spearman / AP
Al Williams, left, and Calvin Jackson remove tombstones that came from the Memphis National Cemetery from the Midtown back yard of Jason Blackburn in Memphis on Tuesday, May 22, 2012.
An official looking into the case of tombstones found by a man gardening in his midtown Memphis backyard says seven more markers have been uncovered.
Jason Blackburn first found 13 headstones while clearing a path to his dog’s pen over the weekend.
Raymond Miller, director of the Memphis National Cemetery and the national cemeteries in Little Rock and Corinth, Miss, said the headstones were removed between July 5, 1970, and Dec. 28, 1970, when the U.S. Army operated the historic memorial park. They were replaced by newer grave markers that include the names of more recently deceased relatives.
While digging up the headstones Tuesday for their return to the military cemetery, seven additional markers were discovered, pushing the number found to 20, Miller told msnbc.com.
The cemetery is now run by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
It remains unclear how the old headstones made their way some six miles to the central Memphis neighborhood.
A former Memphis city councilman who once owned the house told the Commercial Appeal he was told by a real estate broker the headstones came from a cemetery worker who once lived there.
"I was told he would bring home the ones they messed up when they were engraving them,” Jack Sammons told the newspaper. “It's a granite marker, not like an Etch A Sketch, I guess. You couldn't just wipe 'em clean."
Miller told msnbc.com that the found headstones will be destroyed after it is verified that all of the headstones have been replaced by subsequent markers.
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