A self-proclaimed cemetery detective from Missouri said he’s uncovered the long-forgotten grave of a lawman killed on duty in 1871.

Tim Ogle, a St. Louis County man whose hobby is finding and restoring lost graves, found the final resting site of Samuel Herrington in Jefferson County, south of St. Louis, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Herrington was 32 and a deputy constable — precursor to a sheriff’s deputy — in Washington County, Missouri, when he was killed on duty in October 1871.

He was buried on his mother’s farm in Jefferson County, about 50 miles from where he died.

Ogle, who has found hundreds of graves, considers the discovery of Herrington’s among the “coolest.”

“It’s like he’s being brought back to life again,” he said.

In October, the 146th anniversary of Herrington’s death, sheriff’s departments in Washington and Jefferson counties plan to honor him with the police funeral he never received.

“I think it’s time he had some recognition from the public that he would have had, had he died yesterday,” said Norma Fuchs, Herrington’s 93-year-old great-granddaughter, who lives in North Carolina. “I’m just so glad I’m going to live to see it.”

Herrington’s death is among the earliest recorded police line-of-duty deaths in eastern Missouri; the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial said the earliest instance of a deputy and constable killed by a prisoner in St. Louis was in 1836.

Herrington’s name is included on memorials in Washington, Missouri, and Jefferson City and online.

Exactly how the husband and father of three sons was killed remains murky.

Fuchs’ “great-uncle Ed” Herrington has said his father was stabbed fatally while responding to an Ironton tavern fight, and the killer, William McCarron, and two other men were arrested.

McCarron died of smallpox in the St. Louis jail while awaiting trial. The other men’s convictions were overturned on appeal.

But newspaper reports and court documents dating to the 1870s obtained by the Post-Dispatch suggest Herrington was beaten to death, allegedly by McCarron and two of his brothers, when Herrington tried to serve a warrant at their homes in search of stolen property.

The McCarrons knocked him down, pummeled him with stones and kicked and dragged him until “he was done for,” the Missouri Democrat newspaper reported at the time.

Ed Herrington said he didn’t remember a funeral for his father, and his mother died five years later of a “broken heart.” Their mother’s relatives and neighbors took in their three orphaned sons.

Ogle met Fuchs at a Pevely, Missouri, cemetery in 2010 during a ceremony to honor veterans buried there. Ogle discovered one of his family’s tombstones and began to wonder where else relatives might be buried, and a hobby was born.

Ogle began collecting atlas books, census records and newspaper clips. He built a tool kit that includes dowsing rods, scrub brushes, prodding poles and a cleaning solution designed to kill mold without damaging gravestones.

“I’ve gotten poison ivy more times than I can count,” Ogle said. “Everybody I find has a story, and it always leads to another adventure.”

Southeast Missourian