Growing up, whenever Gregg Baethge would visit Der Stadt Friedhof to pay respects to departed family members, he’d see one small grave that gave him chills.
The grave was of a young girl who was found near Fredericksburg on Sept. 20, 1927 and buried 10 days later.
Instead of a first, middle and last name on the tombstone, there’s only one name to tell visitors who this little girl was: “Unknown.”
No one claimed her body and with no technology at the time to digitally find her identification or next of kin, she was buried in the cemetery as an unknown.
“As a kid, I didn’t understand how a grave or someone could be unknown,” said Baethge, whose family has lived in Fredericksburg for generations. “My father, Otto Baethge Jr., sat me down at the grave and told me the story. I have been haunted by her story to this day.”
Baethge graduated in December from Austin Community College, where he earned an associate of applied science degree in radio, television and film. This directing project helped him finish his degree.
Baethge decided to make his project about the young girl.
Titled “Unknown,” the short documentary played at the South by Southwest Film Festival on Monday, March 13. Baethge hopes to also see it screened at the upcoming Hill Country Film Festival.
The documentary features a brief storyline where Baethge speculates what may have happened. The young girl does her chores and then relaxes in the woods, not knowing there’s a menacing man behind her.
Glen Treibs, a local historian that Baethge describes as his possible distant cousin, discusses the case in the documentary and said he doesn’t think there were any “strong suspects” in the case.
“The community thought the right thing to do was bury the child,” Treibs said.
The local Boy Scouts went door to door and raised money for the girl’s funeral and burial.
All of the community attended the funeral, Baethge said, adding it was “standing room only.”
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