The Saga of the Missing Tombstone for John Scobee (1809-1896)

John Scobee, an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War, died on Nov 21, 1896 and was buried at the Morelock Cemetery in Adair County, Missouri. After some 80 years, descendants replaced his crumbling, interesting tombstone with a new one supplied by the Veterans Administration. The original tombstone was removed and over time it became lost. This is the saga of its discovery and reinstatement at John's grave.

On August 27, 2001, Debbie Grgurich, of Kirksville, was mowing behind the building in Novinger, Missouri that she owned with her husband, Frank. Debbie saw Gary and Claire Lloyd arrive at the Coal Miners Museum building next door to attend a meeting. She summoned them over to see an old tombstone covered with cement blocks that had been laying behind their building for some time. The tombstone was broken near the top on both sides and the first part of the given name and the last part of the surname were missing. The letters that remained were consistent with the name "John Scobee." The death date of "NOV 21, 1896" was clearly discernible and an interesting poem was legible at the bottom. Debbie said she didn't know where the stone came from, but would like to offer it to a descendant rather than just discard it. She asked Gary if he could try to locate a relative.

Gary posted notices on Adair & Putnam County GenWeb sites. From the description of the stone, Joanne Scobee Morgan immediately recognized it as that of her great great grandfather, JOHN SCOBEE. She promptly responded to the inquiry with an email to Gary that said, "This would belong to I. John Scobee, who I show is buried in the Morelock Cemetery. He was born Feb 7, 1809 (she later corrected the date to February 14, 1809), and was the exact age as the stone says ("Aged 87 y 9m 7d") when he died somewhere in Adair County. He is my gr gr grandfather! My folks had a new stone placed on his grave back in the mid to late 1970s. I believe that the stone he had at the time was taken to my uncle Dade's house in Green Castle". In the course of time, the old stone became lost. Joanne continued, "...I wonder how it ever got into Novinger! I bet it could tell a LOT of stories! I'd love to have it. Thanks SO much for alerting me to this wayward stone!"

Ray F. Snider, Jr, also saw the notice. He, in concert with Joanne, immediately called Janet and Larry Bachman, John Scobee relatives, who lived in Kirksville, to ask for help. Janet and Larry immediately agreed to go pick up John's old stone and store it at their place pending final disposition. It remained at their home in safe storage until September 2003.

On September 15, Ray talked to Junior & Wilma Swanson of Kirksville. Junior is the president of The Morelock Cemetery Board and Wilma is the secretary & treasurer. In addition, Junior & Wilma, now retired, had been loving caretakers of Morelock Cemetery for over 35 years. They agreed to immediately pick up John's old stone and place it in a proper cement base for preservation, family history and return it to John's grave site. Ray called Janet to make arrangements for the Swansons to pick up John's stone.

On September 21, 2003, Janet's email to Ray stated, "...John Scobee is no longer my house guest. Jr & Wilma picked him up yesterday afternoon." By post dated September 25, Wilma wrote Ray "...we have reset the stone...It looks pretty nice. I'm glad someone took an interest in it, before it was lost again."

The old John Scobee stone reads as follows: "Jn SCOBEE, died Nov 21, 1896, aged 87y, 9m, 7d; Remember friends as you pass by, as you are now so once was I, as I am now you soon shall be, prepare for death and follow me." Ray, John's g grandson, is of the opinion that the quaint saying is amusing & that John had a sense of humor; he likes that.

And that is the SAGA of how the ole JOHN I. SCOBEE, JR headstone finally returned home to its proper and final resting place. Joanne & Ray paid the modest cost of preserving JOHN'S OLD STONE. Donna Scott, Victoria G. Tagart & Tracy Jo Verba, with thanks from Joanne & Ray, volunteered to contribute to the cost of resetting John's old stone, but the modest cost made that unnecessary. Betty Swisher of Green Castle, MO agreed to take photos of the newly reset old stone. The SAGA STORY & PHOTO will be offered to the Web Masters of the Adair & Putnam County, MO GenWeb sites for posting, as well as the site, for the benefit and information of all JOHN SCOBEE, JR descendants.