By David Wade

BRIDGEWATER (CBS) – There’s a mystery brewing in a Bridgewater basement. And it runs from the War of 1812 to a local cemetery. Intrigued? Let’s go downstairs.

“One day we came down here and we found this, and we wanted to find out what it was,” says Bridgewater State student Derek Kruk.

What they found is a gravestone embedded in the basement floor. He was stunned. “They cleaned it off a little bit and we found Jabez Harden,” he says.

Jabez Harden, born 1796, died 1879, veteran of the War of 1812.

“We wanted to know who he was or what’s the deal with it, and here we are,” Derek says.

He and his roommate got in touch with Bridgewater Town Clerk Marilee Kenny Hunt. “He called me up and he says, I found a grave in my basement!” Hunt says.

Interested, Hunt looked in local history books and found that Jabez Harden was a militia Captain. Then Chip Mangio, a Bridgewater resident, did some sleuthing. “I physically came over here and walked the graves. And that’s where I found the stone,” he says.

The head of The Friends of Middleboro Cemeteries, Chip found Jabez’s actual burial plot in Pratt Town Cemetery in Bridgewater, along with the grave of Harden’s son, Benjamin who fought in the Civil War. So there’s no body in the basement.

Veterans Agent Roderick Walsh places medallion at Jabez Harden's grave. (WBZ-TV)

Veterans Agent Roderick Walsh places medallion at Jabez Harden’s grave. (WBZ-TV)

Chip guesses that when a new stone was installed on Harden’s grave, the old stone was given away. “Gravestones travel. You’ll actually find gravestones as part of water spouts or walkways because they’re still good stones and they’re expensive,” Mangio says.

They also discovered that the graves of Jabez and Benjamin Harden had not received veteran’s medallions. So Tuesday, the town’s Veterans Agent Roderick Walsh remedied that. “It’s a connection to our past and to history. I am totally involved with veterans every day and I realize the sacrifice they made and I’m just proud to do it,” Walsh says.

They’ve also learned that Jabez Harden’s father Samuel fought in the Revolutionary War. He’s buried in another cemetery and his grave will also receive a veteran’s medallion.

Three sons of Bridgewater, remembered all these years later.

David Wade

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