177 years later, Revolutionary War soldier buried in final resting place

Published: May. 12, 2017 at 6:55 PM EDT
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Private Samuel Howard served in the Virginia Line during the American Revolutionary War.

After seven years of service, Howard moved to Harlan County where he and his wife, Chloe, were among the first to settle in the area.

"It started right here in this little place," said Sharon Osborne, a descendant of Howard. "They wanted a new life. They wanted a new beginning. They cut their way through here. They built their home. They raised their children."

Howard died in 1840 at the age of 78. He, his wife, and baby were all buried at Wix Howard Cemetery in Loyall. However, about a year ago, people started to notice the cemetery was having foundation issues where the land started to slide near the Cumberland River. Howard's descendants worried about the graves and asked for their ancestors to be buried in a new location.

On Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers along with the Third United States Infantry Regiment ("The Old Guard") helped honor the Howard Family during a reinterment ceremony at Resthaven Cemetery in Baxter.

"I really love the fact that the Army, no matter where you are ... what part of the country that you live in ... we are dedicated to you and we will do what's right to make things right," said Brigadier General Mark Toy.

Although many generations separate them, Howard's descendants say the ceremony made them feel a lot closer.

"It makes all of their issues and the things they fought for more relevant," said Stephanie Fairchild Fister, also a descendant of Howard's. "It means the battles we face today ... it makes them feel for manageable somehow."

Samuel Howard and his family were laid to rest with full military honors. His descendants wanted to thank the Army Corps of Engineers for their help moving the Howards to Resthaven.

"Everybody has worked together from here to Washington, all over the country and it's done. Today, it's done," Osborne said.

Harlan County Judge Executive Dan Mosley said work is still being done at Wix Howard Cemetery. He said officials are still concerned more ground will be lost and it could eventually impact more graves. However, they say no graves are in "immediate danger" as of right now.