Veteran grave markers discovered

A new homeowner called me today. She, her husband and their son moved into a very nice Lowell home a short time ago. One item that needed attention was the granite front stairs. The mortar holding them in place had eroded and had to be replaced. But when the homeowners started to pull back the granite stairs, they found that they were grave markers of deceased veterans. I stopped by the house on my way home from work tonight. The homeowner turned over two of the markers. I could make out the following:

William Blatz
New York
PVT, Co. B, 27 Regt Vol Inf
June 12, 1870 – Feb 7, 1955

Wilfred D. Schnitzen
PVT, 30 RCT Co, Gen Svc Inf
World War I
March 29, 1888 – April 18, 1955

Presumably, at least two more of these types of stones are built into the steps. The homeowner is anxious to fix his steps, but he also is hesitant to embed these Veterans’ grave markers into cement. He would willingly trade these markers for some comparable construction material so he could finally fix his front stairs. I told him I’d check into it and get back to him on Monday.

A couple of observations: Neither of these decedents is local (one was from New York; the other from Pennsylvania) and they both died in 1955. I have no idea how they got to Lowell or why they ended up as someone’s front stairs. Does anyone have any ideas? Any suggestions as to what to do?

9 Responses to Veteran grave markers discovered

  1. Ellen A says:

    I guess the Veteran’s Administration provides headstones. Sometimes they go unclaimed or never get to their rightful places. Here is an article about that:

    Here is also a link to the Veteran’s Administration explaining about the program that provides headstones:

    Keep us informed! This sounds like a great mystery of how these got to Lowell!

  2. Kim Scott says:

    That is one of the strangest things my husband and I have ever heard. Please keep us informed as to why this happened if you find out. I am hoping that it was granite that was printed incorrectly and sold as surplus or something similar.

  3. Prince Charming says:

    Our family had the same issue. I remember when I was small, my grandfather had some of these and used them for his steps too. There were always 2 or 3 of these hanging around. I thought it was creepy so I never asked where he got them. It must’ve been some sort of “fire sale” at a local granite place.

  4. Kosta says:

    I have three such stones. Apparently, a local builder must have got a supply of such stones “back then” and they’ll be in more than a couple of places.I rebuilt the old steps, found the grave stones and have since kept them on the side.- not wanting to show disrespect by throwing them in the garbage.

  5. Adrian Luz says:

    These veterans markers were most likely replaced with newer family markers that included the whole family. Many cemeteries have a one marker per lot policy and there isn’t enough room sometimes to add all the names to the existing marker. We have come across this often. Most of the time the cemetery just destroys the veterans marker.

    My recommendation would to contact either the veterans administration or go to and insure the graves are properly marked.

  6. Eleanor Rigby says:

    I wondered what happens in the case Mr Luz uses as an example. When my parents bought a monument for my Maternal Grandparents St Patrick’s dug up my Grandfather’s military marker without informing the family. I have no idea how to go about getting it replaced now that St Patrick’s has changed that policy!

  7. Henry Plaistek says:

    Maybe this will help. My employer buys his stone out of state, at times he’ll grab a flat bed and go for a bargain. One more thing, you have Civil War dead buried in the Lowell cemetery from New York state, maybe this could be one of your puzzle pieces.