Removal of Confederate flags prompts investigation

By Shelby Clayton—

Graduate Assistant

April is observed as Confederate History Month. To commemorate this month, members of the Major George B. Erath 2679 Stephenville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy place flags on the graves of Confederate veterans.  At the end of March, the Confederate Flags put on these graves were removed from the West End Cemetery at the corner of Washington St. and Lillian St. The flags were later found in the dumpster behind Newman Hall.

Sheran Weible, President of the Stephenville Chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy has decided to press charges against the individual responsible for removing the flags. According to a report from the Stephenville Police Department, this is classified as theft of property grave/human corpse/military marker. The property, 87 Confederate flags, is valued at $261.

Texas Penal Code classifies this as a state jail felony stating, “regardless of value, the property is stolen from the person of another or from a human corpse or grave, including property that is a military grave marker.”

The Confederate flags were replaced on Friday, March 30. Many in the community gathered to help put the flags back onto the graves of Confederate soldiers. Photos by Ashley Inge and Arynn Tomson

The maximum punishment for a state jail felony is 180 days to two years in prison, and a $10,000 fine.

Weible was notified that the flags were missing on Monday, March 26.

“It hurts my feelings [finding out the flags were missing.] I thought ‘Why did y’all do that,” said Weible.

Following Texan News Services’ coverage of the removed flags, a lot of debate about what happened sparked on social media. Many of reactions on the replacement of the flags, positive.

“That a lot of people honor our history made me feel really good. I was so pleased with how the community came together to put back the flags,” said Weible. We had several people offer to make donations for the cost of the flags. We were just so pleased with how everything came together.”

The Daughters of the Confederacy puts out around 1,400 to 1,600 flags on graves in the month of April. They cover the counties of Erath, Comanche, parts of Hamilton and the surrounding area.

“We’ve never had [flags taken down before]. We’ve been putting them up for at least eight years and never had a problem at West End or really any cemetery,” said Weible.

To find which graves to put flags on they have researched the veterans and looked at historical society records.

In addition to placing flags on graves, the Daughters of the Confederacy also does school programs, give scholarships to seniors, honor veterans once a year who are descendants of Confederate veterans and grave dedications for Confederates that don’t have markers, and more.

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