Family history moments: The stone is standing!

Little was known about the 40-year sojourn of our maternal family in northwest Louisiana from 1850 to 1890, since no one in the immediate family had lived there for more than a century.

Interest was strong, however, because of legends concerning my grandfather's grandmother, Mary Levitia. Just two facts were known: first, that she was the daughter of William Weatherford, known also as Red Eagle, a chief of the Creek Indian Nation; second, that she had migrated from Alabama with her physician husband, Dr. William Forbes Howell, to Natchitoches Parish, La., in 1851.My brother and sister-in-law, John and Mary Windes, visited that region in the spring of 1997. Eventually they were directed to the remote and neglected Campground Cemetery in nearby DeSoto Parish.

They first surveyed the stones in a large meadow area, most of which were piled in heaps, but found nothing. At the point of giving up, John noticed something large lying flat in a nearby forest. It proved to be a beautiful marble monument that had fallen over, damaging the lentil and capstone. The inscription read, "Mary Levitia Weatherford Howell, 1823-1859. Thrilled by their discovery, though saddened by its physical condition, they shot some camcorder pictures and left.

The next morning John asked if it would be all right to visit the site again before leaving the area. They drove 20 miles back and parked. As Mary left the car, she exclaimed, "John, the stone is standing!"

To their utter amazement the apex-shaped monument, 9 feet tall and weighing hundreds of pounds now stood tall and erect. Furthermore, just to the east of it, were now revealed two fallen stones for Levitia's children, Natalie (1844-59) and Bonaparte (1846-52). It was a moment that will always touch the heartstrings of a family. The camcorder came quickly out again to record this family history miracle.

Later, it was learned that the mayor of a nearby town, preparing for a Civil War re-enactment in the area, had sent a city employee with a tractor to clean and straighten the old burial ground. Ironically, it was just in time for some decendants' first visit in 100 years. - George Windes, Brea 3rd Ward, Placentia California Stake

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