During our Knoxville trip in October we came home through the new tunnel into Bell County, Kentucky, and visited the Middlesboro Cemetery. Located on a hill, within city limits, we found two of the most unusual gravestones – for a father and son – both sides equally beautiful. With a little research I have formed a short history of this family.
William H. Heath, Co. D, 2nd Regt., Ky., Vol., Cav., born November 22, 1842, died November 14, 1906. Gone but not forgotten. Middlesboro Cemetery, Bell County, Kentucky.
William H. Heath was born in 1842 and was a prime candidate for serving in the Civil War due to his age of 19 when the war began.
His parents will remain unknown for now, the first instance of his being is in the 1880 Census for Hart County, Kentucky. William is listed as 35 and a carpenter. He and his parents were born in North Carolina. Eliza J. [Shofner], his wife, is 36. She and her parents were born in Kentucky. The children are Carl L., 9; Isolia, 4; and Oakley M., 2.
In the 1900 Census the family has moved to Bell County, quite a distance from their home in 1880. Perhaps they moved to be closer to William’s family who still remained in North Carolina? In this census William is listed as 56, giving a birth date of November 1843, he has been married for 31 years, and still works as a carpenter. Eliza J., is listed as 57, with a birth date of March 1843; gave birth to 5 children with 2 living. Son Carl is living with them; he is 27 with a birth date of April 1873, and he works as an iron moulder (spelling used in the census).
We can gather then that daughter Isolia died between 1880 and 1900. Two other children that were listed elsewhere were Inez and Carlis, both daughters, that presumably also died young.
The back of William’s stone is decorated with a flag, very fitting for his service during the war.
William H. Heath received a pension from the government beginning July 24, 1890. Notice the state from which filed is Kansas. Did the family move there – perhaps before the move to Bell County? January 7, 1907, Eliza then received the pension as widow, showing she filed in the state of Kentucky.
Carl L. D. Heath, born April 23, 1871, died March 29, 1908. Gone but not forgotten.
Son Carl died a year and a half after his father. I’m sure Eliza was devastated to lose them, one so soon after the other. These two beautiful stones were her monument to them.
Carl’s stone has two angels carved on the back.
Eliza J., wife of W. H. Heath, born March 31, 1842, died February 5, 1913.
Eliza lived another five years before passing away at the age of 71. How I wish we knew more about this family, and their travels before coming to Middlesboro!
Categories: Family Stories