Many offer assistance on found gravestone


Submitted photo This gravestone was found by volunteers on the shore of Lake Erie.

On behalf of Brig. Gen. Elmer M. Rudolph, I want to thank the so many of you who took the time and effort to contact me regarding his tombstone found on the shores of Angola on Sept. 6. So many of you searched Ancestry.com and “Find A Grave.” It does my heart good to know so many people care about our World War II war hero that served under President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Gen. Omar Bradley.

From your readers: 1940 federal census shows Elmer Max Rudolph was living in Buffalo on Rounds Street, Married but no children listed. Social security death index shows living at ZIP code 14215 in Buffalo. A 1956 Buffalo city directory still shows living on Rounds Street. World War II draft registration shows 539 Winslow Ave in Buffalo. His wife Harriet passed in 1984 at age 86.

Thank you to Joe from Forestville, an 80-plus-year-old “tombstone hunter” who had the most logical explanation: The Army would issue a stone when a veteran passed and when his wife died, she wanted to be on the stone, therefore another was issued. The first stone was discarded and folks used them for sidewalks or stepping stones. The only restriction was the stone had to be placed so the wording was face down and unseen. Today the stone is buried and the new one is placed on top. This would explain why the stone was not marred in any way. The area it was found is quite eroded because of the high water. It would not be unlikely the stone was in a backyard that is no more.

On Sept. 13, I was on the phone with Pat from South Dayton who also found a stone and was trying to find its owner. In the middle of the conversation our power went out due to the high winds — for the next 12 hours — and I lost the call.

Now, here is the best part: We were sitting in the pitch dark when the doorbell rings and it is the Evans police. Officer Randall was at the door and we thought it was a welfare check for two old folks in the dark.

Turns out he was here officially investigating the tombstone. Now it was a full moon, Friday the 13th on a dark and stormy night.

Anyone would think that a call for a tombstone on a night like this would be a prank at best. He was wonderful! We all agreed it was not an act of vandalism and the 200-pound stone did not wash ashore. We had a laugh and turns out we went to school with his grandparents. Life is a coincidence.

In the end, we are no further ahead. We have the obituary, know he was buried at Elmlawn Cemetery in Tonawanda and had no children.

The search continues! I will keep everyone updated. Until then the stone sits in my yard waiting for the story to unfold.

Sharen Trembath is a town of Evans resident.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)