SNOHOMISH — When Sharon Wikstrom arrived at Marshland Cemetery to place her father’s gravestone she noticed something wrong.
Vandals had toppled over and broken more than a dozen headstones, including one for a child who died in the 1800s.
“It was heartbreaking,” Wikstrom said. “That was someone’s child, someone’s mother. These are people’s family.”
Wikstrom, 52, grew up just across Seattle Hill Road from the Snohomish cemetery. Five generations of her family are buried there.
Her father, Edward Wall, a lifelong Snohomish resident, had always planned to be laid to rest at Marshland.
“He was born here and he died here,” said Wikstrom’s mother, Colleen Wall. “This was his home.”
Before the 85-year-old died last year, he kept a watchful eye on the neighborhood with a handy solution for any graveyard hoodlums.
“He’d just go out and shoot the shotgun up in the air and they’d leave,” Wall said.
Wall has served on the nonprofit cemetery’s board for nearly a decade.
Though Marshland was established in 1899, some gravesites date further back.
“Many of the people buried there were founders of Snohomish,” Wall said. “There’s many stories about that cemetery.”
According to Snohomish folklore, Bill Bound lost his leg and it was buried at Marshland Cemetery. When Bound had phantom pain, the leg was purportedly exhumed to remove gravel from in between the toes and reburied. He reportedly was never reunited with his leg.
Whether tall tales or true pieces of history, preserving that heritage remains important to Wall. The cemetery board does not have the money to repair the broken headstones, she said. Many of those buried there have no family left in the area.
Wikstrom did report the vandalism to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office. There are no suspects, spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. Unfortunately, cemetery vandalism and grave marker thefts are not rare, she said.
“We’d ask that anyone who sees anything suspicious, or signs of theft or vandalism, to report it immediately,” Ireton said.
Wall and Wikstrom are concerned that vandals could cause more damage to Marshland’s rich history or her husband’s newly placed $3,600 headstone.
“It’s upsetting to think there are people up there at night trying to destroy these monuments to your family,” Wikstrom said.
Herald writer Rikki King contributed to this report.
Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; firstname.lastname@example.org.