Family reclaims lost tombstone

LAWRENCEVILLE - Reuben Irving Ball will get his headstone back this week.

The Terrell family of Dunwoody is one of two surviving sets of relatives still residing in Georgia, police said.

"Thanks to the information relayed by the local media, the owners of the headstone contacted the Gwinnett County Police Department," said Cpl. Darren Moloney, Gwinnett County Police Department spokesman. "The Terrells did not know the headstone had been missing. The headstone belonged to Mr. Ball, the Terrells' grandfather. Many years ago, Mrs. Ball chose to replace her husband's marker with another one. It is unknown exactly when or how the headstone was removed or how it came to the side of the road in 2006."

On Oct. 20, Gwinnett police were called to the intersection of Buford Highway and Pittman Circle about noon to find the massive headstone lying near the road. Police speculated it must have fell off a truck because its weight, which would require a crane just to budge.

After the stone sat in a police property room for seven months, police notified the media of its unusual possession in April, hoping to find the owners.

The day the story appeared in the paper, two volunteers at the Gwinnett Historical Society spent a few hours searching through cemetery listings and census books and found a match. The "Gwinnett County, Georgia: Families, 1818-2005" book listed a Reuben Irving Ball, born Jan. 14, 1877, and died Jan. 24, 1919. The reference materials then connected Mr. Ball to a Dunwoody family, who will recover the marker with the help of a Lawrenceville funeral home.

"Because of the massive size and weight of the headstone, there were several logistic issues on how to move the item," Moloney said. "Chris and Heather Banks of C&H Memorials in Lawrenceville also saw the story of the unclaimed headstone, and offered their services to whoever claimed the headstone."