A Civil War soldier buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery received a permanent headstone on Friday afternoon, 100 years after his death.
Paris Richey, a Iowa native and Union fighter, died in 1919 in St. Joseph. His descendants still live in town but didn’t know much about the man responsible for settling the family in Missouri until recently.
“I’m the last of 11 kids,” Richey’s grandson Tom Richey said. “I was close to my family, but he’d been gone for quite some time.”
Tom Richey’s wife, Patsy, stumbled across pension papers that indicated Paris Richey was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery. Along with Paris’ great-granddaughter, Deborah Kline, the family discovered that instead of a proper headstone, a brick marked the man’s grave.
“Those are only intended to be temporary until a regular stone is provided,” Cline said. “And that just never happened.”
To shed light on the circumstances, Cline turned to retired Master Gunnery Sgt. John Grimes, a hobby historian who has made it his specialty to get veterans military headstones. At first, a request for a headstone from the VA was turned down.
“They rejected the application because he had a brick with his name, which is not a headstone,” Grimes said.
Grimes then enlisted the help of Jeff Redel, Director of Family Services at Meierhoffer Funeral Home & Crematory.
“Mr. Redel wrote a very nice letter explaining the circumstances of a temporary marker. They reconsidered, sent the headstone and we put it in,” Grimes said.
The headstone was placed just in time to hold the unveiling and dedication on Sept. 6, Paris Richey’s birthday.
Pat Richey said the family is touched Paris finally has a proper headstone.
“Nobody in the family knew him, but he was in the service,” she said. “I think anybody that’s been in the service deserves a headstone.”