Though superstorm Sandy left much devastation in her wake, some Sound Beach residents are buzzing with excitement about one thing the storm uncovered: A 19th-century headstone found intact at the bottom of bluffs near an undeveloped parcel of land known as Steiner’s Woods.
The owner of the property where it was found said she goes down there often and had never seen the stone before the storm, said Bea Ruberto, president of the Sound Beach Civic Association, which has taken an interest in the artifact.
Ruberto said the headstone was discovered on Veterans Day, and members of the civic organization were excited because rumors had swirled for years that Steiner’s Woods was once a cemetery and because specific information about the history of the small North Shore hamlet is sparse.
“Any little piece of information we find out about Sound Beach is just exciting,” she said.
Natalie Stiefel, a member of the Rocky Point Historical Society, has been researching it. She said the headstone was for two children: Johann Grune, who lived from October 1874 to May 1876; and Friederich Grune, who lived from April 15, 1882 to July 12, 1882.
Stiefel said she has used genealogy websites and census records, but can’t find the Grune family. Another interesting thing, she said, is the abbreviations for "born" and "died" are for the German words.
Vilma Rodriguez, who has lived in Sound Beach since 1971, said her children used to play in Steiner’s Woods and told her they remember seeing the headstone at the top of the bluff in the woods.
Rodriguez, also a member of the civic association, said they are seeking any information about the names on the headstone.
“They were just children,” she said. “So respectfully, I wish we could find any information on it. It’s very sad but yet exciting at the same time”
The headstone was too heavy to move, so civic members covered it for protection but have left it at the bluffs for now. Eventually, they would like to move the headstone somewhere for safekeeping.
“I think it’s amazing that the hurricane that brought so much devastation also brought us a little knowledge of these little children that were lost for so long and now are found,” Stiefel said.
“The civic wants to bring honor to them and put this tombstone in safekeeping. It’s a nice thing to see the community having reverence for something like this.”
Anyone with information about the headstones may contact Ruberto at email@example.com.
Above: This 19th-century headstone was was unearthed and found intact at the bottom of bluffs near an undeveloped parcel of land known as Steiner's Woods in Sound Beach.