Troy's WACO Aircraft Company Remembered By a Tombstone
By Judy Deeter
TROY - There is a unique tombstone in Troy’s Riverside Cemetery. It doesn’t honor a person or a pet, but rather a company: the WACO Aircraft Company. The tombstone is in Section 1 of the cemetery on the west side of a road named Woodbine Drive. It can be seen from the road.
From the cemetery road, only the name WACO is seen on the tombstone. If one walks to the stone, one can see that the company logo is carved into the stone and there are wings on either end of the word WACO.
The tombstone was placed at Riverside Cemetery in 1930 by Hattie Meyers Weaver Junkin Barnaby, the sister of WACO Chief Test Pilot Charlie Meyers. In the early 1920s, she married company president and founder George “Buck” Weaver. Unfortunately, their marriage was short. He died of an infection in 1924. She soon married another company founder named Elwood J. “Sam” Junkin. He too died a few months later in 1926. Before she was 30, Hattie had lost two husbands and was the mother of two children. She had a son George by Mr. Weaver and a daughter Janet by Mr. Junkin. She left Troy in 1928—at about the same time that her brother Charlie quit his job with the company. In 1930, she married Naval Lt. Ralph S. Barnaby who was assigned to the Navy’s Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington, D.C. She divorced Lt. Barnaby in 1934 and never married again.
The WACO tombstone sits in what is sometimes referred to as the “WACO burial plot.” The plot is believed to have been created at the time the tombstone was erected in the summer of 1930. It is really a plot for Hattie’s family. The WACO Aircraft Company does not seem to have been involved with it. At that time, Junkin’s body was moved from a single plot in the cemetery to the WACO plot. Weaver, who had been cremated in Chicago, was brought to Riverside Cemetery and re-interred in the WACO plot. At some point, small tombstones were erected for George Weaver, Elwood Junkin, Hattie, her children George and Janet and George’s wife Margaret. Hattie died in 1990.
Portraits of Weaver, Junkin, and Hattie hang in the conference room of the WACO Air Museum and Learning Aviation Center, 1865 S. County Rd. 25-A, Troy. The Troy Miami County Public Library Local History Library at 100 W. Main St., Troy, also has written sources of information about the tombstone and burial plot. Call (937) 335-4082 for information.