The month before Memorial day is always busy for me. This year with 2 different hospital stays in April & May, I haven't been able to get ahead for Memorial Day. On Friday I was at Riverside Cemetery trying to get as much done as possible before Monday when I hear a voice behind me say "What are you using there?". I turn around to see an elderly gentlemen sitting on Rascal scooter. He was wearing a hat that showed he served in the U.S. Navy. I walked over and extended my hand and told him who I was. He told me his name was Henry Mathes and that he was a former commander of the local American Legion. As I took a knee, Henry began to fill me in about his family. Henry's brother Sidney served in 3 different wars while in the U.S. Navy and Henry's wife Elva was already at rest in their plot. Henry's father was the chauffeur for Byron Bancroft Johnson, who created the American League Baseball and was the first president of the league. As I listened to Henry talk, I couldn't help but try to remember where I had heard that name "Mathes" before. After spending the better of 45 mins chatting with Henry, I went back to my work of cleaning Civil War headstones. Later that night I remembered where I had heard the "Mathes" name. A lady by the name of Reba Butler had contacted me to see if I could locate a Hester Mathes in Riverside Cemetery. I did locate Hester, who lies beside her husband Silas Henry Harrison Mathes. Reba volunteers at the Historical Museum in Bedford and they had letters that Silas had written to Hester during his time away serving in the Civil War. She had transcribed the letters and they was planning an exhibit this summer. I had previously reset and cleaned Silas's headstone so I reset and cleaned Hester's and sent her the pictures. Hearing Henry's tell his stories about his families sacrifice serving in our nations military was amazing. Thanks to all our Veterans, not just on this Memorial Day, but every day of the year!
My name is John Maxwell and I am a Co-Founder of Headstone Healers of Indiana and a Find-A-Grave Volunteer who enjoys working with old headstones. Many tell a story of days past and the people who lived then.