BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) - News 4 went to a vacant east side lot after Call 4 Action received a tip about a mysterious headstone found lying there.
The grave marker was tossed unceremoniously into the vacant lot, directly across the street from an east side church. A viewer was disturbed when she saw it lying there. With no cemeteries nearby, she turned to News 4 for help to find out who the headstone belongs to.
The large slab of granite had been lying in the underbrush for more than a year across from Valerie Young's church, Eternal Hope Church of God in Christ, on Pauline Street when she finally took a closer look.
"And when I did, lo and behold, there was a name etched in, as well as the years of birth and the date of the death, and I said, 'Oh, Lord have mercy! This is somebody's identity, somebody's headstone," Young said.
Inscribed in the granite stone marker: John L. Waldmiller, a father, 1892-1942.
After the shock of discovering the stone was a grave marker, Young called several cemeteries to see if they had a John Waldmiller buried in them but had no luck in finding its rightful place. That's when she Called 4 Action.
"My next thought was Al Vaughters, Call 4 Action, and so I called your office, and your staff kept in touch with me," Young said.
Call 4 Action did the research and learned John Waldmiller was a war veteran, and lived in Lancaster. News 4 also discovered the graves of several Waldmillers at St. Mary's of the Assumption Cemetery in the village.
Cemetery officials showed News 4 a John Waldmiller among them, but the grave had a headstone, and was not the John L. Waldmiller matching the marker from Pauline Street.
"I would love to have a family member know where it is located. I would love to have the deceased person have their own identity again," Young said.
News 4 caught up with the family of John Waldmiller, and told them about that grave marker. Waldmiller's son, also named John met News 4 at another, older section of the cemetery and there was a headstone bearing the names of John L. Waldmiller 1892-1942, buried next to the younger John's mother, Catherine.
"When my mother died, my sister got this stone made up, and put both their names on it. That is what I think happened," John explained. "Usually the people who make the stones, they usually take the old one out, and get rid of it, or do something with it."
Someone had tried to fill in the inscription on the lost grave marker with something like plaster and holes were drilled in. That suggests the marker was replaced and someone tried to use it as a base for headstone but it didn't work.
That lost marker does have some meaning for the Waldmillers so we are going to get it to them.
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