WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - In 2007 Robert Terry struggled to find an old friend who was buried in Nocona Cemetery. His trouble led to new idea and an 11-year journey of historical research in hopes of bringing honor to those who have passed.
The military veteran and postal service retiree has a way with technology. He said, "I've been dabbling in computers since 1982 you know, and I enjoy programming."
City Hall gave him information of every person buried in the cemetery. He created a website mapping out each gravesite with pictures of the headstone and additional details like their birth place and service in the military.
Terry said, "There was 157 that they had marked unknown. They knew somebody was buried here but they didn't know who it was."
He has been researching to find who they are ever since.
He said, "I went to the library researching old newspapers, going on ancestry, trying to get information about the dates, and maiden names, where they were born at, and where they died at."
He has gone through newspapers dated all the way back to 1910 and has since been able to identify 44 of the unmarked graves.
The Nocona City Council recently approved funds to purchase headstones for the burial spots. Terry has almost completed his task of laying down each headstone.
The years of research, computer programing and physical labor earned Terry multiple awards, including Nocona Citizen of the Year. He said, "I don't really like the recognition. What I do like about it is that it puts it to the forefront. All those people that I have found that are unknown, they're not unknown anymore – at least to me."