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Wednesday, May 01, 2019

Lulu Visited Custer's Last Stand To See Her Great Grandfather's Name On The Monument

Lulu at Custer's Last Stand
W H Heath - on the monument at Custers Last Stand

We are in Montana for 10 days - Lulu has been doing a presentation at Montana State University in Bozeman. After that - we have been exploring one of the last two states on my to do list. Custer's Last Stand has a special interest to our family.

Lulu's great grandfather fought at the Battle of the Little Bighorn. It has been duly documented in books and government files. William Heath was born in England. He enlisted in the army and served under Custer in Montana. He was a farrier - his job was to care for the horses.

Custer was sent into Montana to force the Indians onto the reservation. Gold was discovered in the area and the government wanted it open for prospecting. The Sioux refused to leave the area. They had a camp of 4000 people along the Little Bighorn River. Custer attacked the village with about 300 men. The battle raged for 2 days. In the end - Custer built a small fort made of about 40 horse bodies on top of a small hill. They desperately killed their own horses to use as protection. The Indians attacked and killed every one of the soldiers - supposedly.

William Heath somehow survived. He supposedly was nursed back to health by a women named Lavina. After he recovered he returned to Girardville and eventually Tamaqua. There - he married Mary Swansbury - and raised a family of 7 kids. One of those 7 kids was Ruth Heath - Lulu's grandmother - and mother of John Cox - Lulu's Dad. He named one of his daughters - Lavina.

Heath lived - worked - and died in Tamaqua as a miner. He is buried in the Veteran's Circle at Odd Fellows Cemetery in Tamaqua PA. He never claimed a military pension. He died at age 40.

The battlefield is located along highway Interstate 90. A monument was placed there a few years after the battle in 1876. Today - there is a full national cemetery there for soldiers of other wars.

The curator at the monument produced a book listing all the people that died there. They list William Heath as a farrier and that he definitely died there. Everything in their background of Heath matches the family records up until the battle.

This is personal to me. I am proud that Lulu's great grandfather fought for his country. But I do not think he died here. It is a government mistake. He returned to Tamaqua and started a big family - Lulu included. They are all proud of his history. It is politically correct for the government to say the Indians massacred them all.

If any other member's of Lulu's family would like their name listed in this story - send me an email. If you have any other information - please include it.

I am glad William Heath survived and returned to Tamaqua PA - because if he died - my Lulu would never have been born.

High on the monument - W H Heath

The monument and Heath's name high up
Lulu looking at her great grandfather's name

This is the actual spot where Custer died

220 soldiers died in this battle

Many horses also died here - some killed to use as wall

Part of the Indian Memorial
Some original body markers

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