WWI vets KIA receive military headstones

CAMDEN POINT, Mo. — Nearly 100 years after two World War I soldiers were buried at the Camden Point Community Cemetery, headstones were placed to honor their sacrifice on Tuesday, May 22.

George Bernard Stone and David ‘Christopher’ Leavel, Jr.  were both killed in action on April 10, 1918 about 100 miles apart in France. The two were buried near their battlefields in France at the time before being shipped back home for proper burials in 1921.

 CODY THORN/Citizen photo Camden Point resident Myron Anderson, right, receives a flag during a ceremony held on Tuesday, May 22, in honor of a distant relative, David Christopher Leavel, Jr., who died during World War I.

CODY THORN/Citizen photo
Camden Point resident Myron Anderson, right, receives a flag during a ceremony held on Tuesday, May 22, in honor of a distant relative, David Christopher Leavel, Jr., who died during World War I.

However, neither one of them had headstones to mark their final resting spots. That changed thanks to the work of John Grimes, a retired master gunnery sergeant who lives in St. Joseph.

Military members presented a flag to Myron Anderson, a relative of Leavel, who said he will give the flag to the North Platte School District.

Leavel was born on Sept. 30, 1895 and grew up in Camden Point. He was part of the Dearborn graduating class of 1912 or 1913, as newspaper clippings had conflicting reports.

He then attended the Normal School in Maryville, Mo. — now Northwest Missouri State — in 1914 before moving with his family to Emporia, Kan., that year and started attending the Normal School in Emporia, now Emporia State.

He joined the military on Sept. 25, 1917, in the Kansas National Guard based in Emporia, Kan. He was first with the 89th Division, before being transferred to the 30th Infantry when he got to France.

He was 24 when he died from a gunshot wound in The Battle of Aisne-Marne.

Leavel was initially buried in cemetery No. 617 near St. Mihiel, France. His body was exhumed and returned in 1921. Leavel’s body was shipped back with Chalmer Thomas, another Dearborn resident killed in the war, according to the Dearborn Democrat’s June 16, 1921 edition.

His funeral at the Camden Point cemetery was on June 19, 1921 and The American Legion of Platte City and Weston conducted the service.

The Leavel family farm was located just 1 ½ west of his final resting spot.

Anderson said there are no more Leavels around.

“This is a lost family,” said Anderson, a pastor of the Camden Point Baptist Church. “There are no more people named Leavel. For us to be here it is an honor.”

 CODY THORN/Citizen photos Headstones for World War I veterans David Christopher Leavel and George Bernard Stone were placed on Tuesday, May 22 at the Camden Point Community Cemetery. The two both lived in Platte County and were killed in action on the same day, nearly 100 miles apart in France.

CODY THORN/Citizen photos
Headstones for World War I veterans David Christopher Leavel and George Bernard Stone were placed on Tuesday, May 22 at the Camden Point Community Cemetery. The two both lived in Platte County and were killed in action on the same day, nearly 100 miles apart in France.

Anderson and his cousin, Janet Sourk, both were part of the ceremony.

“I knew they were going to recognize him, but I assumed someone else in the family somewhere they had contact,” she said. “I never dreamed we would be the closest relatives that would be here. I don’t know of any Leavels in this area at all, just Anderson and Deans that are related to him.”

Stone lived in rural Platte County and joined the Missouri National Guard based out of Liberty on Jan. 19, 1916.

Born in New Baltimore, Va., in 1897, he moved to rural Platte County when he was five. His mother remarried and the family moved to Liberty. He left high school early to join the military, but would’ve graduated from Liberty High School in 1919.

In the spring of 1917 he was sent overseas and was killed in action on Aug. 10, 1918 in France. Prior to going overseas, Stone was part of a military expedition hunting down Pancho Villa along the Mexican border just months after joining the service.

He was one of four soldiers killed by the same artillery shell that landed in the bunker system. Stone was a member of Company H.

Stone was 20 when he died in near Linthal, a village in the Alsace region in France.

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His mother, J.A. Crawford, received a telegram on Aug. 19, 1919 informing her of his death. Two days prior to that news, she had received a letter from her son saying he was moving to the front line and he would be there by time she got the letter.

Stone is buried near his uncle and grandmother, George and Martha Sudduth, and prior to Tuesday, none of them had markers.

At the time of his burial, it was a Masonic cemetery. Just before the casket was lowered into the ground, his mother was given the flat that draped it.