Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday: No Missing Stones at Kempner

In the past three months I've written about two family members who died in 1905 in Kempner, Lampasas Co., Texas and were buried in the cemetery there without headstones, or at least that's what I thought. My great grandfather Oliver M. Wallen was destitute at the time of these deaths so the local church people took up a collection so they might be buried properly with robes and caskets. I assumed there wasn't enough collected to cover the cost of stones for either of them since stones weren't mentioned in Oliver's diary. Well, it seems all these years I may have assumed wrong.

Ten years ago I made memorials for those two family members at findagrave.com. The memorials were for Oliver's little brother William Thomas (Willie) Wallen and his maternal aunt, Elmira Jane (Aunt Myra) Sutton. More recently, I decided to make a request to volunteers for photos of those stones. Not for a second did I expect those requests to be filled, I did it "just in case", but in my mind, I already knew I was going to have to put stones to those graves on my own and, in fact, for the past two weeks I've been preparing for a May RV trip from Florida to Texas. I had several places in Texas I wanted to go to anyway so I was planning our route to include Kempner Cemetery. I had no idea who to contact about getting permission to add tombstones at the cemetery or who to even get to do the stones or what they'd cost.

Last Sunday night I decided I would take a quick look at my e-mail before I went to bed and when I did I immediately saw two notifications that someone had fulfilled some photo requests at Find A Grave. To my complete surprise, there were Willie and Aunt Myra's tombstone photos, I couldn't believe it! Never a dull moment with family history, you think you know something and find out you don't know Jack!

W. T. Wallen
E. J. Sutton

Of course, I don't know when the stones were placed on the graves. Perhaps Oliver's brother Jesse put them there long after Oliver died in 1907. And it easily could have been the work of Oliver's uncle Tom Wallen who was a stone mason and who lived not all that far away in Denton, Texas at the time. Grandma Wallen was still living in 1912 and it's possible it was she who was the one responsible for seeing to it that her grandson Willie and dear friend Myra had markers. 

So, it looks like I can skip the plans to have tombstones cut for these two family members after all. That certainly works for me!

*Note: Tombstone photos used with the permission of Find A Grave Volunteers, Michael and Tracie Dillingham! Thanks!



  1. what a great surprise. i love find-a-grave and those that take the photos.