(JAROD2, MOSES1) was born 1853 in Hamiliton Co, Florida, and
died in Lowndes Co, Georgia. She met (1) UNKNOWN Abt. 1868. She
married (2) WILLIAM STANFILL January 28, 1871. He died Bef. 1878
Notes for LAVINA WESTBERRY:
Wiregrass Obituaries and Death Notices - Vol. I
Polly, William And Sarah Stanfill - The Valdosta Times - Saturday,
February 9, 1878
Arson And Murder.
Polly, William, And Sarah Stanfill Perish In A Burning House.
Mrs. Lavina Stanfill; The Mother, Burned, Perhaps, Mortally. The
Torch Plied By Her Step Son-In-Law And Step Grandson. One of the
most terrible cases of arson and murder was committed near Ocean
Pond, in this county, last Sunday night - the house belonging
to Mrs. Lavina Stanfill, wife of the late Wm. Stanfill, and the
victims being her three little children, aged respectively, nine,
seven and four years.
During the night a negro man on the place discovered the dwelling
on fire, and hurrying to the scene of the conflagration, arrived
just in time to arouse Mrs. S., after considerable effort, from
a deep sleep. She awoke to find herself quite cut off by the surrounding
flames, and with a desperate plunge for life succeeded in getting
out severely burned, from which she will probably never recover.
The poor little children were unable to escape, for it was impossible
for any one to reach them.
The oldest, a little girl, was seen to clasp the youngest
in her arms and make a desperate struggle to escape, but the fire
fiend had her entirely surrounded, and she but hastened their
end by running into the jaws of a fast approaching and terrible
death. She swooned and fell, and naught could be seen but the
dim outlines of the two struggling forms in the lake of fire.
The other child was unseen, but perished further in the house.
The sympathetic negro carried the suffering woman to his house
and then returned to the smoldering ruins to keep vigil over the
ashes of the innocent victims of a hand too foul to touch the
earth with its pollution.
When the daylight brought relief to the solitary sentinel
the neighbors gathered in and a search for the cause of the fire
was made, and not in vain. Tracks were found to where a horse
and mule had been hitched in the woods near by, and the tracks
of the horse and mule led to Mr. Joseph L. Howell's residence,
just across the Florida line, who was a son-in-law of Mr. Stanfill's
- he having married a daughter by Stanfill's first wife. Mr. H.
appeared at the door and at the sight of the men turned pale and
trembled. He being out of the State and the party having no authority
to arrest they had to leave him.
The news of this harrowing affair having spread like wild fire
over the country, and several persons having came forward and
testified to numerous threats Howell had made to the effect that
he would burn down her house over her head, a party of gentlemen
gathered together and crossed the line with the intention of bringing
him over at all hazards, but when they went to his house he and
his son William had fled for parts unknown.
The difficulty seems to have been this: After Mr. Stanfill's
first wife died he married a Miss Lavina Westberry, a woman whose
character was not suppose to be beyond reproach, and his son-in-law,
Mr. Howell, and his children by his first wife, were very much
embittered by the act, and until the old man's death they were
on anything but amicable terms. After the death of Mr. Stanfill
came a bitter contention over the estate; however the liabilities
were greater than the amount of his property, and after much litigation
and trouble the widow got a dower, and the rest of the property
went to the creditors. This was the cause of the trouble.
The evidence before the coroner's jury gives a better idea of
the subsequent plot on the part of Howell and his son to destroy
the property and the lives of the second wife and her children;
and how they endeavored to get Mr. Miller Clayton, another son-in-law
of Mr. Stanfill, by his first wife, and his sons into the foul
The reader will agree with us that this is one of the most
horrible deeds of the kind on record and let us hope that the
hounds of justice will never rest until the guilty parties shall
be brought to a just and merited punishment.
Children of LAVINA WESTBERRY and UNKNOWN
i. FERMAN WESTBERRY, b. Abt. 1868.
ii. JANICE WESTBERRY, b. Abt. 1869.
Children of LAVINA WESTBERRY and WILLIAM
iii. POLLY STANFILL, b. 1869; d. February 03, 1878, Lowndes County,
iv. WILLIAM STANFILL, b. 1871; d. February 03, 1878, Lowndes County,
v. SARAH STANFILL, b. 1874; d. February 03, 1878, Lowndes County,
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