Thursday, November 10, 2011

Emery's "First" Veteran's Day

Photo by sholden

In the two years I've been researching my family, I've learned a lot.  Not just a bunch of names and dates to identify and organize my ancestors but I've learned a lot about history.  Which to the people who know me this must seem completely ridiculous.  I was one of the kids in high school who took social studies during summer school for the sole purpose of getting it over with - quickly.  I remember about 15 years ago going on a tour of Civil War battlefields with my husband and children and trying, desperately, to at least act interested.  But in reality I just didn't care.  How I wish I could have a do-over on that trip.

And now here we are at Veteran's Day and for the first time, the celebration seems to mean so much more.  While I'm thankful for those with us today and want to honor them for their service, I'm also remembering those who helped our country get to this point.  And now I know how many of my ancestors played a hand in shaping this country and for that, I'm eternally grateful.

But no ancestor has captivated me more than my elusive 3rd great grandfather, Emery Waller.  I first wrote about Emery here and then about requesting his Civil War Pension Record.  Nothing was more exciting than the surprise of finding Emery in Kansas and, ultimately, finding his final resting place.  But if you've followed along with me you know that when I found Emery in McPherson, Kansas, he was lying in an unmarked grave.  And at that time I made a vow that the story would not end there.

My goal was to get the grave marked, although I'm really not sure how I thought I would accomplish that.  I knew the Department of Veteran's Affairs would supply the headstone at no cost but from that point, I'm not sure how I thought I'd get the stone from my home in Washington to Kansas.  I'm not sure the details are important but I must give a shout out to Kevin Stockham of Stockham Family Funeral Home in McPherson, Kansas.  Once I connected with Kevin, he helped me through the process by completing the forms, accepting the stone, and then arranging to have it placed.  I have absolutely no idea how I could have ever completed this project without his help.

But I did have his help and thus, the project was completed this week, just in time for Veteran's Day.  Emery Waller is now present and accounted for!

Captain Emery L. Waller
McPherson Cemetery, McPherson, Kansas

An even bigger surprise is that I was contacted by the local newspaper, the McPherson Sentinel - they'd like to include an article in their Veteran's Day edition telling the story of how I found Emery and how we got the gravestone placed.  Stay tuned for the rest of that story - wonder if Good Morning America will also be calling me for an interview?

Who knew one ancestor would take me on such a wild ride?


  1. What a magnificent journey you've taken ... and with such a reward! Congrats!

    I've been wandering around among the data on my dad's ancestors and their siblings who were young men during the Civil War -- no direct information about any of them being involved in that war, but I'm still looking! They were in Texas, SW of Fort Worth, so I'm not sure how much I'll ever find.

    Congrats again, Debi. Job well done!

  2. Wooooow, that is cool! If I saw you on Good Morning America I wouldn't be at all surprised.

  3. Congratulations, Debi!

    That's got to be so gratifying! I too, am hoping to obtain a stone for my great-grandfather William Donar who served in Co. "C", 25th regiment, NY infantry National Guard.

    I have some info on how to go about it but would love to talk to you when I'm closer to doing it to learn about the steps you took to make this happen.

    A wonderful gift on this Veteran's Day!

    Pat Biallas

  4. What a great story! Thank you for taking the time to honor Emery.

  5. Hey you never know. Good morning America may just be calling. Wow I am so happy for you and for what you accomplished for Emery

  6. Debi- This is really fascinating! You've done a great job sleuthing and then doing something about what you learned. Way to go. Layne