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Vandals damage headstone of famous Stillwater pioneer missionary

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The headstone of Rev. William T. Boutwell, the famous pioneer missionary, was vandalized in Stillwater over the weekend.

The Washington County Historical Society posted a picture of his grave on its Facebook page Tuesday, showing the headstone had been pushed over, and commenting: "It is sad to see such nonsense and destructiveness."

The headstone is in the Boutwell family cemetery, across the street from the historic Boutwell House, the Pioneer Press reports.

"They tipped over the stone, which must weigh several hundred pounds," Historical Society executive director Brent Peterson told the paper. "We won't know how much damage was done until we can get a crew in to lift it up."

The house courted national attention when it was saved from destruction earlier this year by Nicole Curtis, star of HGTV's "Rehab Addict," who persuaded its owner not to demolish the building.

It was then sold to the Historical Society, which intends to restore the 145-year-old home to its former glory.

KSTP notes Stillwater police are investigating the vandalism, though admit they have little to go on, while the society and City are working together to fix the gravestone.

"It is one of those 'Why?' type of things," Peterson told the TV station. "Why go into the cemetery? Why destroy a tombstone?"

William Boutwell arrived in the Stillwater area in the 1840s, organizing the First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater and was famous for helping name Lake Itasca.

The society has previously said his home has a historical significance that ranks alongside famous Minnesota homes belonging to Henry Sibley, Alexander Ramsey and “even James J. Hill.”

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