Thieves swipe historic grave marker in Towamencin



Police in Towamencin Township are seeking the person or persons who stole a historical grave marker from the Tennis-Lukens Cemetery on Allentown Road in May.

The thieves struck sometime between May 1 and 17 and made off with the headstone for Samuel Tennis, a member of one of the area’s founding families. The monument was dated 1803.

In March of 1728 the settlers of the area petitioned William Penn's Commissioners for Towamencin to become a township. The request was granted, and a charter given. The land was surveyed and recorded, outlining the boundaries of the township. Those boundaries are similar to what they are today.

In the listing of 1734, there were 32 landholders within the township, with William Tennis having the most acreage at 250 acres. William Tennis was the father of Samuel Tennis.

Tennis was born in Jan. 9, 1716  and died March 16, 1803 in Towamencin. He married a woman from Berks County and they produced three daughters and two sons. The family must have done well because at his death, his will shows that he bequeathed a 105-acre farm to his son, William, and to his grandchildren another 90 acres.

As was the custom of the times, his daughters received money. The second son, Israel died, but his widow received money.

The cemetery one quarter mile west of the Allentown Road and Forty Foot Road intersection has the graves of some of the township's earliest settlers. Markers date back to the early 1700s, and the graveyard includes the final resting places of township Revolutionary War veterans.

The property is owned by Towamencin Township after being transferred from Montgomery County as an orphaned property. Maintenance is done by Towamencin Public Works, and several Eagle Scout projects have enhanced its appearance.

The estimated value of the historic grave marker is believed to be approximately $1000. It is unlikely the headstone can be replaced since it is so old. No one knows how it was removed from the cemetery.

“It is one of the smaller, older headstones, but still heavy,” said police Chief Paul T. (Tim) Dickinson.

Police are asking anyone with information on the theft or whereabouts of the grave marker to call the department at 215-368-7606. Callers may remain anonymous.