Montana woman acquires Confederate headstone for great-great grandfather

Courtesy photo Donna Scott stand next to the unmarked grave of her great-great grandfather Alfred Shelby at the Tucumcari Memorial Park Cemetery.

Thomas Garcia

The grave of Civil War veteran Alfred Shelby has been without a headstone 97 years. His great-great granddaughter Donna Scott decided that was long enough.

Scott said she recently gained approval for the headstone from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

No date has been set to place the headstone.

Scott said she knew in the past the VA had provided headstones for veterans, though she was unsure if they would provide one for a Confederate soldier.

“I feel all veterans have the right to be honored,” Scott said.

Shelby died in September 1914 in Tucumcari. He had been living in El Paso working as a carpenter. He moved to Tucumcari with his daughter Attie Shelby after his wife died.

Scott said she had no idea her great-great grandfather had served in the Civil War until she started researching her family history. She discovered he served in the Confederate Army as a sergeant in Company F of the 34th Texas Calvary.

“My grandfather’s father died when he was young,” Scott said. “Shelby (her grandfather’s grandfather) was a father figure to my grandfather until his death.”

In April 2010, Scott said she and her husband, Richard, traveled from their home in Billings, Mont., to a funeral in Tulsa, Okla. She said as they were driving home she decided it was time to tie up some loose ends.

“I told my husband I wanted to go to Tucumcari and visit my great-great grandfather’s grave,” Scott said.

Scott said when she located Shelby’s grave she was saddened to see the graves around it all had headstones.

“I don’t know if his family could not afford a headstone at the time,” Scott said. “It still makes me tear up to think he went all this time without a headstone.”

The veterans department sent the headstone to the Glaze Monument Co. in Clovis, who will place it on Shelby’s grave.

Scott said she sent an $87 check to Glaze Monument to cover the cost of placing the headstone only to have it returned.

“They said they wanted to place the stone as a gift, from their family to ours,” Scott said.

Diane Morton, Glaze Monument office manager, said once she had heard Scott’s story, it was decided they would place the headstone for free.

“It is the right thing to do,” Morton said. “We have placed a few Confederate headstones in Roosevelt County. Placing a headstone for a Civil War veteran does not come around very often.”