Tombstone mystery resolved, partially

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Headstone represented 39-year-old German immigrant

By Kevin Koelling, Managing Editor

TELL CITY - A mystery presented in the June 29 edition of The News has been partially solved.

Paul Alvey, then the executive director of the Perry County Recycling Management District, reported at the June board-of-directors meeting that April Bolin found one or two pieces of a headstone while participating in the annual River Sweep cleanup of Ohio River shores.

The stone pieces qualified as this year's most-unusual find, said Alvey, who has since resigned to take an assistant-pastor and counseling position at a Jasper church. He agreed to continue working part time until a replacement can be found and trained.

Being incomplete, the stone pieces' origin couldn't be determined. They marked the life of someone with  a name ending in "ner" who lived from 1866 to 1906.

Alvey said he planned to check at the Tell City-Perry County Public Library for clues to the identity behind the tombstone.

"It was amazing how everybody had just enough information to send me to the next place," he said at a July 23 directors-board meeting. Library employee Evelyn Lasley directed him to the courthouse, where his sister, Mona Goffinet, suggested the county health department. Because Alvey's office is in the courthouse annex in Cannelton, where the health department is also located, his detective work became a circular journey lasting only two hours.

The verdict: The tombstone was that of Wilhelminia Wagner, who was born Sept. 25, 1866 in Germany and died of tuberculosis May 19, 1906 in Troy Township. She was a U.S. citizen and was married to a Steve Wagner, according to a genealogy sheet provided by Jan Meyer Kempf, administrative registrar of vital records.

With that information established, the mystery remains unresolved. Alvey said he still doesn't know how the tombstone fragment(s) found their way onto the riverbank. Anyone who knows or who can tell him if family members might want them can call the recycling-district office at 547-9787.