The Camp Family Cemetery located just about a mile east of Navasota off Highway 90 is in itself a history book with the grave markers its pages. Other than the Camp family, there is another historical grave that is not a part of the unique Grecian Mausoleum that Malcolm Ira Camp built onsite for his immediate family over 10 decades ago. That is the grave of Miriam Best Forrest Luxton located within a corner of the Camp Cemetery fenced area. It bears the Hannibal Boone United Daughters of the Confederacy historical #523 marker that was erected and dedicated in 1924.
Miriam was the mother of the famous Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The local Grimes County Confederate Greys Chaplain, Faber McMullen III, has researched and printed a 16-page detailed history of his Camp Family’s connection along with the Forrest/Luxton family. McMullen actually finds he is a fifth-generation cousin of Eliza Collins, Camp’s wife.
The Camps came into Grimes County in 1848. They came from a small northern Mississippi community of Salem, later known as New Albany that was within the same small neighborhood where the Forrest family had also located. Undoubtedly, with the few hundred people located in the early 1800s in that immediate area they would become neighborly friends.
Camp built the wellknown Camp Inn where the Beard Navasota Veterinarian Clinic is now located. The front exterior walls of the Clinic are built from the Camp Inn as it crumbled over time in the early 1900-1950s. It was a favorite stopping point of Sam Houston in his travels from Huntsville to Independence.
General Forrest, who was a young boy at the family’s time at Salem, Mississippi, would remember the Camps and having traveled in Texas previously to the Civil War would have been aware of the Camp Inn. It was in 1863, as the Civil War progressed, and at the death of Miriam’s second husband, General Forrest, under military escort, relocated his mother and two younger half-siblings to the Camp Inn.
After the close of the Civil War, in 1867, Miriam continued to reside at the Camp Inn. One of her sons, James Madison Luxton, who was serving as a Grimes County Deputy Sheriff, became ill and she was called to where he lived to care for him. As she stepped down from the horse drawn carriage her foot was punctured by a rusty nail. She soon developed blood poisoning or tetanus that worsened, and she died at the Camp Inn Nov. 15, 1867 to be buried at the Camp Family Cemetery.
Miriam, over her lifetime, was described as a woman who embodied the American Frontier with her hard scrabble life. The bond between her son, whom she always called Bedford not Nathan, was exceptionally close. She and her son were known as “tough as nails.” She was born into a strict Presbyterian Scottish home and learned to expect much from herself and her children.
Shortly after her first husband’s death in Mississippi she was traveling with horse and buggy carrying a basket of baby chicks. A panther caught the scent of the chicks and attacked her in the carriage. She successfully fought off the panther saving the chicks but suffered extensive scratches on her back when the panther tore her dress away. Successfully arriving at home, son Bedford was angered. After treating her wounds, he set off to hunt the panther. By daylight he returned presenting her with the ears of the panther he and his dog had hunted down.
Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation. See www.tworiversheritagefoundation. org for more information and membership.