Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Missing Military Marker

When I first started this journey, doing genealogy, I started going to local cemeteries to find my ancestors graves. I have always loved walking through cemeteries and trying to find the oldest headstone as a child.
One day in October I decided I was going to take a drive to Kleberg Cemetery in Dallas County, Texas, which my 2x great-grandparents are buried. I took a friend and her brother with me to help me search for the grave, along the way we stopped by one of her friend's house and picked up two more people to help search. Now there is five of us out looking for the grave of my 2x great-grandparents. We eventually find it, of course, the gravesite was in the last spot we looked, right by the entrance to the cemetery....
Here is what I found, a double headstone for him and his wife.
Photo was taken by Melissia Mason

A couple of months later, in February, I received an email from an employee of Kaufman County, Texas who has found a military marker for "Robert Lee Stovall Pvt. US Army. WWI. Nov 4, 1896 - Mar 13, 1978" At this point, I started thinking, "I saw his headstone a few months ago and there was not a military headstone there, but the dates do match with my Robert Stovall." I started to correspond with her and we met a few days later. She said that the military marker was found by Kaufman County Sheriff's deputies turned over in a ditch off the highway and had been in storage for the past couple of years. Once found in storage the county wanted to see where it belonged. That is how she got in contact with me.

We loaded the marker into a truck and moved it to the cemetery, luckily the gravesite was not far from the road as the marker weighs a few hundred pounds. We might've looked like grave robbers that day while digging the hole for the marker.  After about twenty minutes we had the hole dug and the marker set into it.

Questions that I have asked myself through the process were, "Where was the marker between the time the double marker was placed and it being found on the side of the road?, Was the marker ever placed at the gravesite?" I suspect that the marker was removed when the double marker was put into place, but I am glad that I was able to put it back to where it belonged. This was one of my first genealogy discoveries.

Robert Lee Stovall was born November 4, 1896, in Tennessee. He married Mattie Mcqueen, she was only 13, in Kaufman County, Texas on September 2, 1919. Together they had six children, Pauline, Maxine, Robert L., Henry Earl, James Allen, and Susie Maurine Stovall. Robert Stovall worked as a brick mason throughout his life and during the war he built roads.
Robert Stovall Jr and Mattie McQueen 
I do not currently know the parentage of Robert Stovall. In the 1900 census for Rutherford County, Tennessee he is living with his "adoptive" parents, he is listed as a cousin to head of household, Lee Stovall. The family then moved to Wichita Falls, Wichita, Texas by the 1910 census and Robert is then listed as son to head of household, Lee Stovall. By 1920 the family is living in the small community of Rose Hill, in Dallas, Texas. When Robert Stovall Jr. died on March 13th, 1978, Mattie listed Lee Stovall and Susie Carroll as his parents. I recently looked through a photo album from my great-grandmother, Pauline Stovall, and she mentions that Lee Stovall was "the man who raised my daddy as his son."  Luckily I have tested my grandfather's DNA in hopes to get through this brick wall.

This is written as part of Amy Johnson Crow's 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks. #52Ancestors


  1. Great post, Dalton! Love that you were able to help get the headstone back where it belonged. Good luck with the DNA results!

  2. Great post! That does raise some questions - how did it end up on the side of the road? Questions like that you might never know the answer, but it's back where it belongs :)

  3. I think sometimes people got these because they were free from the government for veterans and never placed them. They often sit in peoples yards until someone finds them and either places them or destroys them. Often they do not realize there is a penalty for doing so. My Dad did with his father's.