Broken Headstone Fished Out of Androscoggin River in Auburn

The Lewiston Sun Journal reports that a fragment of a headstone was found in the Androscoggin River behind Great Falls Plaza in Auburn on Monday.

The polished granite fragment of a headstone appeared to have been in the river some time because the broken edges had all been worn smooth. What little writing was discernible was "Herrick" and a death date of 1988.

We can glean a little more information from the stone.

The middle initial looks a bit like a G. And the word above the name is probably "FATHER" or "MOTHER"

Only two Herricks died in Maine in 1988: one in Yarmouth and one in Auburn. The more plausible candidate is Hazel G. Herrick, who died 16 Jan. 1988 in Auburn. I wasn't able to find her obituary in the online Lewiston newspaper archives to confirm her place of burial. But I did find a photograph of her gravestone in Brunswick. Her name appears on the stone with that of her late husband, Roy A. Herrick. As Roy died in 1955, it is quite possible that his grave was originally marked by a "FATHER" stone similar to the one found in the river, and that the current "companion upright" stone was erected sometime after Hazel's death.

Hazel and Roy were living in Brunswick when they married, and lived in Topsham in 1940. It's possible that Hazel was a resident of an Auburn nursing home at the time of her death.

When gravestones are replaced, they are often intentionally broken before being discarded. Why this stone was discarded in the Androscoggin River in Auburn is a mystery, but probably not one involving vandalism or neglect.

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