Friday, December 30th, 2011
Dog tag found in France reawakens family mystery
By Betty Lawrence
Sisters Audrey Stoltz, left, and Joyce Ann Kiser pore over documents pertaining. . .
MONTEZUMA - Montezuma area resident Audrey Stoltz and her siblings, all in their 70s, remember very little about their father.
One day in the 1930s Leonard Stoltz went to the grocery and never came back.
The mystery of their missing dad was rekindled when his World War I dog tag was discovered earlier this year by a French couple near a small village in northeast France.
"Dad had already served in the military before he married Mom," Stoltz said. "The only thing we knew about his military service was that he had been wounded because Mom had the shell casing."
Her sister Joyce Ann Kiser of Greenville said a cousin learned of the dog tag while on the Internet.
"We got a phone call out of the clear blue sky from a cousin who said he had been on the Internet and came across some people who said they had found a World War I dog tag and were looking for the Stoltz family to claim it," Kiser said.
Her brother Jack Stoltz of Portage, Wisc., immediately contacted the French couple and then received the dog tag by mail.
"I told them who I was and thanked them greatly for tracing the tags back to us. They had cleaned it up to be able to read the serial numbers on it to trace it to the rightful family," Jack Stoltz said. "It's amazing that they were still able to do that after it had been in the ground for more than 90 years."
In a letter written by the French couple to Jack Stoltz, a portion reads, "This tag that we return to your family is our way to thank Mr. Leonard Stoltz for what he did for our country."
Audrey Stoltz said she learned in 1987 from the Regional Office Federal Building in Cleveland that her father died in 1968 at a veterans hospital in Miami, Fla., and was buried in a veterans cemetery in Andersonville, Ga.
"But that's all we know for sure," she said.
Kiser said the family appreciates the French couple's taking the time to trace the dog tag back to its family.
"But it does raise a bunch of questions," she said. "We don't even know what happened to him all these past years, and we don't even know when, or for how long, he served in the military. We have so many questions and just would like some answers."
The siblings agree that their father was, and still is, a man of mystery.
"We lived in Troy, and Dad was a deputy sheriff," Jack Stoltz said. "I had been told he was going to clean up Miami County of bootleggers at the time, and many think he was chased out of town. But is that really true? I don't know."
"When he left, we went to live with our grandparents," Jack Stoltz continued. "Unfortunately, the house burnt up, and all the pictures were lost. The dog tag is the only thing we have."
Jack Stoltz plans to put the dog tag and an American flag in a special case for display.