Ooo, lucky I was there!
The first stone was for a boy named Donald W MORSE. He was born in 1927, and died in 1939. He was 12.
Since Larry and I rise to the bait with alacrity, we began the research that night. Donald is memorialized on Find a Grave where it mentions his father, Fredrick A Morse, who was a corporal in the US Army.
Both are buried at Fort Snelling National Cemetery in Minneapolis. Fredrick was born in 1900 and lived til 1996. It's possible that Donald's grave was moved at that time, or that he was buried in another cemetery in 1939 but was moved later when Fredrick had family burial benefits with his WWII service. We don't know, but that would account for a child's discarded grave stone.
(BTW, a Morse family once owned a large part of Big Island in Lake Minnetonka. We have no idea if Donald belonged to that family, tho).
Robert F STEBBING was born, according to this stone, in 1900, and died in 1958. AND, he was a seaman with the US Naval Reserve during WWI.
The US only entered the war in 1917, so Robert probably lied about his age and pushed his birth back a year, a date we found elsewhere, like below:
He checked Minnesota Reflections, and found our man mentioned a few times. First, at 23, on the College of St Thomas hockey team. That's Bob, front row, left. I enlarged just his face, below, so we could compare later. We still weren't 100% sure this was our man.
The other mentions of Robert Stebbing were in a publication called Minnesota Highways, the official employee newsletter of the Minnesota Department of Highways (1951-1976).
"Steb" was Director of Finance for the Highway Department for 20 years.
In the 1940 census, we found Robert Stebbing on Dupont Ave South in Minneapolis, with his wife Ruth. She was a librarian in a public school, and he was an accountant for the highway department.
He and Ruth are buried in Lakewood Cemetery in Minneapolis, SECTION 11 LOT 954 GRAVE 3 and 4. Now we need a photo of
their headstones ☺.
* * * * * * * *
Back to our original question--HOW did two such disparate monuments end up in a backyard near Lake Minnetonka?
Well, we think the two stones were discarded, one because it was no longer needed, and the other because the dates were wrong. Evidently, headstones aren't ground down and re-used--they're stacked somewhere that the public can take em for landscaping or other projects where one-sided, finished stone is needed.
I'm not sure when the house in Minnetrista was built, or what the land was used for before it was developed, but someone probably needed a firm step for the front of a cabin, so these two monuments ended up there. And now, they've served their original purpose again, by being researched and posted online.
RIP, Donald Morse and Robert Stebbing.
Robert Stebbing at 57, and at 23.