Grammy sometimes spoke of her “Uncle U”. His name was Uriah Collins, and he was actually her great uncle, her grandfather’s brother. During part of her childhood, Grammy lived with her grandparents (Albert Buell Collins and Amanda Jane Perryman Collins). Uncle U lived down the road in Hidalgo County, Texas.
Uriah Collins and his wife Ida Barber Collins are buried in Abilene Texas. I discovered that their oldest son was also buried in Abilene Municipal Cemetery through Find A Grave, but here was no photograph. I requested a photo of Ralph Stillman Collins’ grave marker.
If you are unaware, Find A Grave has a matching system that notifies volunteers and photo requests based on where the volunteers live and where the cemeteries are located.
I quickly forgot about my request as I worked on other parts of my family history.
Then I got the notification that a volunteer had posted a photo of the stone for Ralph Collins. I excitedly clicked on the link for the James Faulkenberry, the volunteer who uploaded the photo, to post a “thank you”. End of story, or so I thought.
James shared with me his story of the search for Ralph Collins’ grave. He found a large Collins marker and stones for Uriah and Ida Collins and suspected he was in the right place. However, there was no stone for Ralph. Determined, he returned the next day with his shovel, hoe, and probe. His efforts paid off, however – he found Ralph’s marker long covered by grass and dirt, 2 to 3 inches down. He cleared the stone and took the photo.
Besides the obvious extra effort, there are a couple of other things that I’d like to point out about James. First of all, he is not related to the Collins. He did this purely out of a volunteer’s generosity. Secondly, this was Abilene in August. The temperature was in the triple digits both days he was out there at the cemetery.
When I asked James for permission to use his name in this post, he granted it and said,
I really try to go the extra mile when the cemetery web site says there is a marker and I can't find one! That's why I try to have a hoe or shovel in my pickup when I go.I look for a grave marker in the section where someone is buried, even if the website says there is no marker. A couple of times, even after 10 or 20 years, the funeral home marker is still there and still readable!
He also sent me pictures of his adventure, including this one that shows how the graves are arranged.
Here’s sending a big shout out to James Faulkenberry for his extra efforts to help a stranger and preserve a grave marker.