BACKGROUND OF THE STORY:
Each year on Memorial Day the Pennsylvania State Troopers place 2 flags on the graves of all their fallen brethren. For at least the past 20 years, and perhaps longer, one grave has been missed. The final resting place of Corporal Ben F. McEvoy has never been located. There was paperwork indicating that they probably knew where it was, but nothing to indicate that they had ever found the exact site.
The story begins in 1923 with the death of Ben F. McEvoy, a Pennsylvania State Trooper who died in the line of duty. He was the first Trooper who died from a vehicular accident and was from Lancaster. According to the information in the State Trooper Archives, he had a wife, Mrs. Ben F. McEvoy, and a son, no names, nothing else.
Fast forward to Thursday, 21 May 2009, when the Community Services Officer from the Lancaster Barracks went to the Historical Society to try to find where exactly Cpl. McEvoy is buried. The biography said Woodward Cemetery, and she rightfully assumed Woodward Hills Cemetery, but where? It is a HUGE cemetery, after all! Marianne looked it up on the database, but the Trooper is not listed. There was another McEvoy, Margaret to be exact, buried in Section N, lot 74, however. Perhaps Margaret was his wife and he was buried with her. Armed with the information and a map of the cemetery, Trooper Kelly left.
Friday is my volunteer day and when I arrived, Marianne gave me the information, knowing Woodward Hill Cemetery was my second home. I told her I’d be delighted to try to find the headstone for Trooper Kelly.
Cemetery kit, map and information in hand, Jim and I took off for the Cemetery on Saturday to see what we could find. As we entered the cemetery we saw a mother and daughter, flags in hand walking on one of the lanes. We stopped and I asked if I could help them find something. She explained she was looking for a site in Section N and couldn’t find the headstone. I asked for the name and she said “Mc Evoy!” I had just met Trooper Kelly . . . and she knew that my name was Linda! The four of us took off on our mission to find Corporal Mc Evoy’s final resting spot. We walked up and down the area where Margaret Mc Evoy is supposed to be buried. No Mc Evoy was there or even close. No headstone for a Mc Evoy is in that cemetery period!!
Disappointed that we did not find a thing, we talked over our options and decided we needed to find out who was buried in the surrounding area. I knew we also needed an obituary to verify that the burial was in the Woodward Hill Cemetery. I told Trooper Kelly I would go to the Historical Society and see what I could find, after all, I’ve never been opposed to doing a little research!
WHAT I FOUND AT THE HISTORICAL SOCIETY:
- I pulled up the database for Woodward Hill Cemetery and Kevin showed me how to organize it by Section Number. Finding Section “N”, we went down to #74 and saw that it was registered to “Benjamin F. Kiehl” with completely different dates than “Ben F. Mc Evoy” but it had the notation PA State Trooper. Confusing to say the least.
- Kevin suggested that I look at marriage license information to see if Mc Evoy married a Kiehl. I took that film out of the drawer.
- I wanted to look at the obituary first, since I was sure there would be a good one ~ after all he had died in the line of duty.
- Bingo! There was a picture, a long obituary, the names of his family and even their address. It was a gold mine of information.
- I then went to the Classified section where it lists funeral information. There was the information we were looking for. Burial in Woodward Hill, mother was MARGARET MC EVOY and funeral would take place from the home of his grandmother, MARY KIEHL. He was buried in his grandparents plot! I did not have to look at marriage licenses!
BACK TO THE CEMETERY:
The found information necessitated a return trip to the cemetery to verify the information. I drove right to the site, and indeed the monument there was the KIEHL monument. The only stone there was for Benjamin F. Kiehl, and I’m assuming this is Ben F. McEvoy’s namesake. Since I had Trooper Kelly’s card, I gave her a call to let her know what I had found. She was as excited as I was and asked me if I could wait and she would head right over. I wasn’t going to miss this, so of course, I waited!!
When they pulled up, I had my paperwork ready and handed it to Trooper Kelly. She was thrilled to see a picture of this Trooper and explained that the State Trooper Archives didn’t even have a picture of him! I told her those were her’s for their files and asked if I could take pictures of them placing their flags at the Kiehl monument and do a blog on this . . .
THE FINAL RESULT:
CORPORAL BEN F. MC EVOY is honored as one of the State Police’s fallen.
It is our honor, Corporal Ben F. McEvoy, to honor YOU this Memorial Day! Thank you for your service to the citizens of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania!