Chris Van Horne, Fort Worth Reporter
A south Fort Worth neighborhood is trying to unravel the mystery of a century old grave marker found at the end of a cul-de-sac on Flint Street near La Gran Plaza.
Illegal dump sites are an all too common problem, but the discovery of a grave marker at the end of a cul-de-sac in south Fort Worth is a real head-scratcher.
The tombstone is west of near La Gran Plaza, where Flint Street comes to a dead end.
"This is one tombstone that I didn't expect to find back here," Alonzo Aguilar said.
Aguilar, president of Neighbors Working Together Worth Heights, says a code compliance officer pointed it out to him months ago. Since then, he has been trying to find out where the grave marker that reads "Our Baby Jonnie Merle Jan. 29, 1911 - Dec. 19" belongs.
"It's sad that someone would take it out of a cemetery -- if it was in there -- for a child whose family probably paid quite a bit for this back in 1911," he said.
Someone recently left flowers, but there's no doubt that the tombstone doesn't belong there.
"This is where it ends up, and it needs to end up where it come from," Aguilar said.
Aguilar has contacted several nearby cemeteries and looked the name up online but has yet to find out where Jonnie Merle is actually buried and how his gravestone ended up along a path between a neighborhood and the plaza.
"So far, I have come up with nothing," Aguilar said.
Unless Aguilar can find the cemetery where Merle is actually buried, the Fort Worth-based Texas Cemeteries Association said it's impossible to know the marker's history.
It's possible the tombstone was stolen from a cemetery. But it could also have a mistake, have been replaced or be a second stone that could have sat in someone's garage or house in remembrance of a family member.
The association said the gravestone is actually not that unusual of a find.
Office manager Sarah Biles said Oakwood Cemetery keeps such stones in the basement of the church in case they can be reunited with their proper burial site. But it's rare for a gravestone to be brought in and it's even rarer to find that stone's home, she said.
"It's a lonely place to be at," Aguilar said of the stone in his neighborhood. "It needs to go back home. It needs to go back home."
Hebrew Rest Cemetery, which is near the location of the stone, and Oakwood both said the grave marker doesn't belong in their cemeteries.
No birth or death records for Jonnie Merle or any Merle could be found after checking the Fort Worth Library, but that is not unusual for that time period.