In the first half of the 19th century, Peter J. Weller was a prominent businessman and restaurant owner in Lansing, Michigan. When he died in 1849 at a still-young 48, he was buried in the city's Oak Park Cemetery. A quarter-century later, he was moved to Mount Hope Cemetery, south of the city center but his headstone was lost somewhere between his first and his final resting places.
Earlier this year, a Michigan auction house was called to evaluate the items in a house in Okemos after the owner moved into a nursing home. Brad Stoecker of Epic Auctions & Estate Sales was "puzzled" when he found a five-foot-long white granite slab in the house, according to MLive, and even more bewildered when he flipped it over and realized that it was somebody's tombstone.
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"No one in the family knew how or when they came to be in possession of it," Loretta Stanaway, the president of Friends of Lansing's Historic Cemeteries (FOLHC), told the outlet. "The homeowners just said, 'We used the backside of it to make fudge.' We had no way to find out whether the family knew it was a legitimate monument or if they thought it was just a throwaway or something."
According to a Facebook post from FOLHC, Epic Auctions & Estate Sales listed the monument for sale on its website, along with the other items that had been collected from that Okemos residence. A California man who'd previously lived in Lansing spotted the tombstone online, and realized that it had some historic significance. Epic Auctions immediately pulled the piece from the online sale, and gave it back to the city.
Genealogists were unable to locate any of Weller's living relatives, so FOLHC was granted permission to hire cemetery preservationist Andrew Noland to put the long-missing monument back on Weller's grave. He also repaired and re-set the monuments for two of Weller's daughters. The Weller family's fully restored gravesite will be dedicated Sunday, September 26 at 3 p.m., almost 150 years after the tombstone disappeared.
The FOLHC plan to speak about Peter Weller's life at the ceremony. Noland will be in attendance, as will one of the genealogists who researched the entire Weller family. ("I hope someone brings fudge," one Facebook commenter wrote.)
Unbelievably, this isn't the first convergence of chocolate fudge and cemetery markers. (If that was a weird sentence to read, know that it was just as weird to write.) At Logan Cemetery in Logan, Utah, Kathryn "Kay" Andrews' headstone has been engraved to include the recipe for "Kay's Fudge." Andrews told her children that she wanted the fudge recipe to be on her side of the elaborate monument that she shared with her husband of 56 years, and they granted her wish.
"She really loved people," her daughter, Janice Johnson, told FOX 13. "She would write poetry, and she would take fudge whenever people got together."
Andrews died in 2019, at the age of 97. When the eternal fudge recipe was originally unveiled, it mistakenly called for a tablespoon of vanilla instead of a teaspoon. That has since been corrected, just in case anyone is going to make cemetery fudge this weekend. The recipe also specifies that the fudge should be "[poured] on a marble slab," but, you know, maybe don't use THAT kind of marble. Not again.