Family honors memory of lost relative

By Thomas Garcia

QCS Senior Writer

A family visited the grave of a long lost relative in Tucumcari on Wednesday, completing a journey into previously unknown roots.

The family of Alfred Shelby listens to a blessing read by Karolyn Sailer as the Sons of the Confederacy stand watch over Shelby’s grave.

The descendants of Alfred Shelby gathered around his Confederate Military headstone at the Tucumcari Memorial Park Cemetery.

Janelle Foster, president of the Ellen W. Jones Chapter 1022 of the United Daughters of the Confederacy read a dedication followed by the Sons of the Confederate Veterans firing a volley honoring Shelby.

“Being able to travel this far to be a part of my great grandfathers service was exciting,” said Patsy McKinney, of El Cajon, Calif.

Donna Scott, of Billings, Mont., had discovered Shelby was her great-great-grandfather while working on her family genealogy. She also worked to have the military marker placed at Shelby’s grave, which had gone unmarked for 98 years.

Scott’s efforts led the 11 great- and great-great-grandchildren of Shelby spending time together at the Tucumcari Convention Center.

They sat together sharing stories and touring a town which previously held no ties to them.

McKinney, a great-granddaughter, said she appreciated the work Donna did.

“It was exciting to tour the museum and view the newspaper article on my great-grandfathers death,” said McKinney.

McKinney said the education only got better when they learned that the very museum building they were in was where her father Fred Bradley, had attended school.

“The people of Tucumcari have been so helpful and kind to us,” Mary Richards, a great-granddaughter from Yuma, Ariz., said.

Richards said she was impressed with how many people have shown interest in the family’s journey to Tucumcari to learn more about Shelby.

Scott said Shelby died and was buried in Tucumcari in September 1914. She said the family now knows where his grave is located and that he served in the Confederate Army as a sergeant in Company F of the 34th Texas Cavalry.

Scott said the family is still not clear on his reason for moving to Tucumcari.

“My dad lived in Tucumcari and he never once mentioned Shelby to me,” said Donald Bradley, a great-grandson from Shamrock, Texas.

Bradley said his dad, Patrick Shelby Bradley, was not much of a conversationalist, though if he did mention Shelby, he does not recall it. He said he appreciated the Daughters and Sons of the Confederacy holding the memorial service.

“This was awesome,” Bradley said. “To learn about a lost relative and be here to honor him is sort of hard to describe in words.”

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