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Dee Burris Blakley ([personal profile] dee_burris) wrote2011-02-09 08:27 pm

George Washington Burris, Sr.

He was my great grandfather, the son of James Littleton Burris and Elizabeth Adeline Ashmore. In the line-up, he was their sixth child, and fourth son.

Photobucket


I got a scan of the photo above - a much earlier one than I had ever seen before - when I was allowed to go through family papers and photos at the home of one of my aunts.

Below is the photo that I was used to seeing.

Photobucket


The obvious age difference aside, he doesn't look as serious in the first one as he does in the second.

I've been pondering that.


George married Mary Mathilda Wharton on 7 Oct 1877 in Pope County, Arkansas.

They had their first child, Richard Benjamin Burris, on 3 Oct 1878, just about about nine months before George's father had his fourth child with his girlfriend down the road.

Since they all lived so close together, that had to be at least a little awkward.

A few months after George and Mary had their third child, Walter Monroe, George's final half-sibling was born. (I say that assuming that I have identified all the children Martha Vick had with James Littleton Burris, and also assuming he had no other girlfriends.)

Right about the time George and Mary's eighth child, Ottis Gileston, was born, Martha Vick died. James Littleton Burris obtained guardianship of his two minor sons, Richard and Charley Hill, on 1 May 1893.

When James L Burris died two years later, Richard and Charley will still minors. Someone had to step up to the plate.

Care and control of his minor half-brothers fell to George. He was granted guardianship of both boys two months after the death of their father.


Naturally, I have all these unanswered questions.

First of all, why George?

He had three older brothers. And he certainly had enough on his plate. By 26 October 1895, George and Mary had seven living children of their own, and had just buried their infant son, James Thomas Burris, four days before George's father died in August.

I looked to the other brothers.

George's oldest brother was John Thomas Burris. He served as a federal marshall for 14 years, so it could have been that he wasn't around much to be able to rear a teenaged boy and his pre-teen brother. John and his wife buried their young daughter, Roxy, on 5 Oct 1895. Maybe their grief was just too fresh.

James Franklin Burris (next in line), lost his wife in 1894, and probably needed some help himself raising their three young children. (He would remarry in 1897.)

I know the next brother, William Andrew Burris, and his wife Maria Isabella Wharton, had already moved to the Chickasaw Nation in Indian Territory (later Oklahoma), because that's where their seventh child, Ira Herbert Burris, was born in 1891. So Bill wasn't around to help out.


George carried quite a weight on his shoulders. Until 1901, he was guardian of two of his half brothers. The court discharged him and dissolved the guardianship in the April session.

Shortly after the 1920 census, there was not a single child of James L Burris and Martha J (Vick) Hill left in the hills of Pope County, save daughter Hetty, who died between 1896 and 1897, and is most likely buried in an unmarked grave not far from the Burris homestead.

I have to wonder if that has anything to do with the serious look on his face.

I'll probably never know.

Tangled Web

[identity profile] claimingkin.livejournal.com 2011-02-12 07:13 am (UTC)(link)
I can certainly relate to all your thoughts and questions!! I'm sorting through a family secret on my mother's side of my tree right now. Of course whenever I ask my mother (who is in her 80's) about documents I've found about her family that doesn't seem to add up, she laughs and says, as a child, grown-folks were always "hush-hush" about extra-marital affairs and the birth of children from those affairs --WHEW! I have uncovered information about my mother's family that she knew nothing about last month. So my family research this year hasn't been dull at all! -- Marlive