Every American knows about the Tomb Of The Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery which opened to the public on April 9, 1932 in Washington DC.




There are at least three other such tombs in the USA and others in countries all over the world. Check out this website:

Less well known is the tomb of the unknown soldier in Sweeny, Texas, actually not a tomb but a grave with a marker placed in November 2000. Like the one in Washington DC, this American soldier is also known but to God.


Photograph provided by Linda Holcomb


Photograph of back of marker needed which reads:



So, what's the story behind this marker in the Sweeny cemetery? About 1918, a very ill, disoriented WWI soldier was passing thru Sweeny on the train. He got off, the train left & he was found wandering the streets, taken to Rosie's Hotel where he died. Herman Vezey (1894-1963) & others tried to find out his identity over the years following his death but nothing was ever found and he remains UNKNOWN to this day.

For a period of time, it appears that even the exact location of his burial plot in the Sweeny cemetery was UNKNOWN until records were checked in 2000. What was his name? His age? Where did he come from? Where was he going? What direction was he going? Was his family expecting him at home? Where was that?................................ Lots of questions & answers UNKOWN.


Read more in the articles and documents below.

Houston Post April 27,1965


Copy of article provided by Linda Holcomb



Chamber of Commerce document 2001

Note that Rosie's Hotel which sat near the gazebo in the city park on Main Street and the Eades building were two separate buildings.





Document provided by Linda Holcomb


Houston Chronicle May 2, 2002

After eight decades, identity of soldier buried in Sweeny remains a mystery

VALERIE COLLINS, Copyright 2002 Chronicle correspondent | May 2, 2002

More than 80 years ago, a World War I soldier passing through Sweeny died from unknown causes. He's buried in an area cemetery, but his grave fails to list his name. Nobody knows what it is.

Throughout World War I, trains packed with soldiers heading to war or coming home often stopped in Sweeny.

One day, a sick soldier got off a train, maybe to get a breath of fresh air, said Linda Holcomb, 62, a Sweeny resident whose stepfather, Herman Vezey, was city postmaster at that time. Residents found the soldier wandering disoriented. He was taken to an area hotel and treated by a doctor, Holcomb said. Despite the medical attention, the soldier died without telling his name, where he was going or where he had been. He had no identification. Holcomb said her stepfather, who also had served in the war, made funeral arrangements for the man. He was buried in the corner of the Sweeny Cemetery, FM 524, 1 1/2 miles north of downtown.

Vezey, who died in 1963, spent years writing letters and seeking to track down the man's identity. He passed the story along to Elizabeth Schuchardt, a teacher at Sweeny Junior High in the 1950s and 1960s. She presented the story as a local history lesson to her students.

For years, veterans groups would place a flag near the unmarked grave, Holcomb said. As the decades passed, residents became less sure of where he was buried.

Just before Veterans Day in 2000, Holcomb was making arrangements with Sweeny resident Rhonda Kennedy about placing memorial benches near the city's former post office. Holcomb happened to mention the unknown soldier and it piqued Kennedy's curiosity.

Kennedy, 42, began searching and found that cemetery records did not consistently list interment dates. She narrowed the date of the soldier's death to somewhere between 1916 and 1918.

The war ended on Nov. 11, 1918, after 136,516 Americans were killed and 4,452 were listed as missing in action, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.

"I went to the courthouse and went through death records from 1906 to 1925 trying to find a death certificate," Kennedy said. "I was really surprised at how inaccurate they were."

By the 1960s, what little information was known about the man had disappeared, Kennedy said.

"We don't know what he looked like. We don't know which way the train was headed. We really don't have anything else to go on," she said.

She credits cemetery caretaker Delmar Pettigrew with re-discovering the soldier's burial site in 2000 after during an extensive review of cemetery records. An Angleton company then donated a marker for it.

Kennedy said several people and groups from throughout the community helped the Sweeny Rotary Club conduct a special memorial service for him on Memorial Day 2000.

"You wonder if he sent a letter, 'I'm headed home, not feeling well,' or 'I'm back in the U.S., don't know when the train will get me there,' " Kennedy said. "I really wonder about who was waiting for him to come home and he just never showed up"



The following document about research into this subject was found in a box of Sweeny Historical Society records stored in the Sweeny Chamber of Commerce and appears to be a presentation given to them in 2007. Have no minutes from a meeting on this date.
















Note: The tombstones of the unknown soldier and the three adjacent graves do not show up in the findagrave.com database for burials in the Sweeny cemetery. For a listing of 1700+ graves often with pictures of the tombstones, go to website:









March 2015

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