"The storm burst, and the o’ercharged sky poured fourth its torrent over the grassy plains.
The wind increased to a hurricane, and drove the falling rain almost horizontally before it."
— Matt Field, near Cheyenne Bottoms, 1839
THE MAN BEHIND THE STONE: A QUIVIRA CHAPTER MYSTERY TALE
This stone was found near Windom, Kansas, in the foundation of Craig and Nancy Allen’s house after a house fire in the summer of 2005. On it was inscribed:
Co. B, 13th MO Cavalry
June 20, 1865
The stone, which appears to be a tombstone, was laid face up when it was cemented in place, so the person laying the foundation had to have been aware of the inscription, but ignored it. The Allen house is located ¾ of a mile south of the location of old Stone Corral at the Santa Fe Trail crossing of the Little Arkansas River. The house was demolished in the fall of 2005, and the remaining stones such as this one were salvaged from the basement and foundation. Perhaps there are more stones like this.
So who was this man Andrew Welsch? The answer isn’t as simple as it might appear! Here are the facts that we do know for certain:
The 13th Missouri Cavalry was stationed at Station Little Arkansas, near the Stone Corral, in June of 1865, and engaged Indians in the area.
- An Andrew Welsh appears to have enlisted into the 5th Cavalry Regiment S.M. in Co. A on December 21, 1861.
- He was discharged on August 4, 1864 for reenlistment into the Missouri Veteran Cavalry Volunteers.
- He was enlisted on March 13, 1864 as a member of the 13th Missouri Cavalry Regiment Volunteers in Co. E.
- At some point he must have transferred to Co. B. He mustered out on May 12, 1866.
- These records spell his last name ending in “sh.” The stone has a small “c” inserted between the “s” and “h.”
- Army records of August 1861, (four months before Andrew Welsh enlisted in the 5th Cavalry) show a Sergeant Andrew Welsch, serving in the U.S. infantry. Interestingly, by April of 1862 he is listed as having “deserted.”
Did Andrew flee the infantry and change the spelling of his name to join the cavalry and perhaps an extra enlistment bonus? And why is the tombstone dated June 20, 1865, if he was mustered out in May of 1866? And if he’s not in that grave, who is?