An infant’s partial tombstone discovered in Cooke County a decade ago is still trying to find its rightful home, believed to be in Ellis County in or near Midlothian.
The stone of 2-year-old Joseph Alexander Poindexter is housed in the White Settlement Historical Museum in Tarrant County, though no clues or leads have come in as to its location despite numerous appeals through newspapers and genealogical Web sites, museum manager Carol Davis said.
“Maybe now in the summer, with people returning to Ellis County for family reunions and picnics, someone will recognize the Poindexter surname and get in touch,” she said.
The young Poindexter was born on Aug. 21, 1872, to Thomas Livingston Poindexter and Uretha Caldonia Embry Poindexter and died Feb. 9, 1875. He had three siblings who lived to adulthood: Fannie Mae Poindexter Raines (1878-1953), Henry Blair Poindexter (1874-1933) and Franklin Embry Poindexter (1886-1975).
Two other children, Thomas Jefferson Poindexter and John Livingston Poindexter, also died as infants.
Ever since the tombstone came into the museum’s possession in 1997, the monument’s story has proved to be filled with holes and dead-ends.
“It’s just an interesting little puzzle that I inherited when I joined the museum,” Davis said.
Based on an 1871 entry in a marriage book and an 1880 census of Ellis County, the Poindexters lived in the area. Davis has directed her inquiries there, and researchers assume the family continued to live in the county during the intervening years.
The parents farmed in the Mountain Peak area and are buried in Midlothian cemetery, as is their daughter Fanny Mae, but the burial sites of the three infants have not been found and may be together, Davis said.
Portions of the top and bottom of Joseph Alexander’s stone are also missing, and a footstone bearing initials may remain at the child’s burial site, Davis said.
Even though the museum determined who the monument belongs to, the writing on the missing top the stone would be almost impossible to guess.
“It could have been ‘infant of,’ ‘son of,’ ‘baby of’ or even just the child’s initials — that’s something we don’t know,” Davis said, explaining the identification of children on the stones of the time varied by the style of the monument maker.
Since none of the larger, surveyed cemeteries in the area record Joseph Alexander’s or either of the other infants’ tombstones, narrowing the search for the burial sites is difficult. Infants’ graves can be especially hard to locate, as some cemeteries inter the young children in a separate section or in a family plot while some rural families may have simply buried them and placed markers on their own land, Davis said.
“I believe it (the tombstone) came from the vicinity of Mountain Peak where the family farmed,” she said. “Two other children died young and their gravestones may survive in a local, as yet un-surveyed and undocumented cemetery — Thomas Jefferson Poindexter (B/D 1881) and John Livingston Poindexter (1876-1877).”
The Poindexter stone was discovered with two portions of another tombstone in a field in Cooke County, which borders Oklahoma, in 1997.
“I guess somebody stole it out of a graveyard,” Davis said. “It’s like Halloween when people go vandalize tombstones — people just do strange things with tombstones.”
After a brief story on the finds ran in the Saint Jo Tribune in 1997, a White Settlement resident connected the second tombstone to a family from the area.
Museum board president Jimmie Weaver returned the stone to its rightful location as the marker for another child, Inez Farmer, who died in 1895 and whose tombstone had been stolen from Thompson Public Cemetery in White Settlement, though the origin of the Poindexter stone remains a mystery.
“I cemented the two stones belonging to Inez Farmer and returned it back to the cemetery where it belonged, but I didn’t have that same kind of luck with the Poindexter tombstone,” Weaver said in a January article of the Daily Light.
Although the tombstone will remain in the museum’s care as long as necessary, Davis said she hopes the Poindexter stone’s journey will end similarly — with a return to its rightful plot.
“It would be wonderful if the tombstone could be returned to the cemetery it was removed from, but if that is not possible, it will remain safe here at the museum,” she said. “It would certainly be helpful if somebody had a clue.”
Anyone with information on the misplaced tombstone or on the Poindexter family can contact the White Settlement Historical Museum at (817) 246-9719 or e-mail the museum at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Museum hours are from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.