Tombstone in basement of plant remains a mystery
By Benjamin Duer, Gateway News Service, Posted Nov 8, 2008
Avarilla A. Vandegrift, born in 1812, died May 4, 1857. She reportedly is buried under Diebold’s Plant No. 1 in Canton, Ohio. Her tombstone remains in the facility’s basement.
CANTON, Ohio —
In 1857, Avarilla Ann, wife of Richard Vandegrift, passed away at age 45.
Her grave isn’t in a cemetery or a field. Her final resting place is under Diebold’s Plant No. 1 facility in Canton, Ohio.
Her tombstone remains in the plant to this day.
Rebekah Smith, a spokeswoman for the security systems corporation, said the plant opened in the 1870s, having been built on a former graveyard. At that time, Smith said, officials exhumed most of the bodies and moved them to other cemeteries in Stark County.
Rumor has it, Smith said, that a state code at the time required company officials to keep one grave there.
Avarilla A. Vandegrift’s grave remains; her tombstone leans against a column in a basement area of the facility. It is known as “The Tombstone at Plant No. 1” by employees.
Facility coordinator Justin Selogy said Avarilla’s grave is believed to be in a corner, underneath the floor. The room is otherwise empty, but at one time it was used to store corporate records. Diebold and Fitness Quest occupy parts of the facility now.
It’s unclear why her grave was chosen to stay, but employee folklore has added to the mystique, Smith said.
First, workers claim they’ve smelled the scent of roses near the tombstone in the usually musty room. Over the years, Selogy said, Vandegrift’s tombstone has inexplicably been found in different parts of the room.
Smith said workers claim they’ve heard unexplained footsteps. The room has a wooden ceiling, separating the basement and old lunchroom, where the footstep sounds are believed to have originated.
Finally, a green light shows up on most pictures taken of the tombstone, Smith said. Is there paranormal activity going on?
No one is sure. But it definitely adds character to the nearly 140-year-old plant.