The Mystery Tombstone
By Reanna Ogir
Thinking that I could solve a mystery that is over a century old? - Check. Zero investigative
skills? - Check! Let’s go!
Have you ever had that innate call to something? To solve, conquer or otherwise immerse
yourself in the depths of something until you’ve come to a satisfactory conclusion? Were you sorely mistaken in thinking that you could ? Yeah me too, but this was too good to pass up.
I’d always heard of this, Mystery Tombstone but I had never actually seen it, despite having
been to Tobago multiple times! The many rumors I had heard throughout the years, spun
around my mind; people merely talking, boldly arguing and those wildly speculating what was meant by the inscription. Even the origin of the tombstone is puzzling; whether the tombstone was erected by Betty Stiven’s family or by Mr Alex Stiven remains unknown.
This was my chance to finally see this puzzling landmark in person, a Tobago trip with some friends that was a little low on planned limes! A conversation amongst us led to genuine stoked curiosity, and off we went.
Upon getting to the site in Plymouth, I was severely underwhelmed. I had weaved the hype and intricacies of eerie unsolved mystery into my expectations, building them sky high. But what lay before me was a mere tombstone, the engraved inscription masked in white paint largely taking away from its rustic, imagined appeal; although necessary for upkeep.
The inscription reads:
‘Within these walls are deposited the body of Mrs. Betty Stiven and her child. She was the
beloved wife of Alex B Stiven. To the end of his days will deplore her death, which happened
upon the 25th November 1783 in the 23rd year of her age. What was remarkable of her,
she was a mother without knowing it, and a wife without letting her husband know it except
by her kind indulgence to him.’
Thinking we’ve solved the nuances of the inscription, a passionate discussion of theories
ensued. You could swear that we had had breakfast with Mrs. Stiven the day she died!
We gave Mrs Stiven’s husband the profession of a sailor, saying that he was hardly ever at
home leaving her to seek embrace of another, Mr Alex Stiven, a white plantation owner.
We gossiped about Mrs Stiven’s ‘inevitable’ extra-marital affair- eventual pregnancy. But the twist, the twist was that she did not know that she was pregnant.. And that too with twins. One had apparently survived, making her ‘a mother without knowing it.’
Conclusively, we agreed on this tale largely owing to the lack of evidence and factual