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That's George W Burris, Jr. on the right.

I have no idea who the other guys are, or where the photo was taken.

Or why they are wearing guns...or if they were really left-handed.

Scan is courtesy of one of my cousins...

Thanks, cuz.
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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.


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.


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.
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I've always loved this photo for its simplicity.


They are Mary Jane Franklin and James Franklin Burris, sometime before her death in 1888 in Allen County, KS.
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George W Burris, Jr., and his sister, Dora Emma Crites, looking at his birthday gifts
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Louise Herrington Burris, on her 70th birthday in 1978
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George Burris, Jr. with unidentified friends on the steps of Subiaco in Logan Co., AR.
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It wasn't his first car, but my dad earned his 1937 Ford.

He bought it from an elderly neighbor, Mrs. Toby, in 1952.

He paid $5 down, and $5 a week to her.

Until he got it paid in full, Mrs. Toby did not let him drive it, although she did let him back it out of the garage into the driveway and put it back again.

His father asked him one day how much he owed Mrs. Toby.

Dad told him after he made that week's $5 payment, his balance would be $10.

Granddaddy pulled a $10 bill out of his wallet...
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Okay, Burris family and allied other families...

Let's identify everyone as many people as we can in this Burris group photo, which looks to me to have left the spouses out - again.

Why did they do that?

I've compared the photo to others of the 50th wedding anniversary celebration for G W and Mary Burris on 27 Oct 1927, and Emma is wearing the same outfit. So this is one of the large family group photos of that event. (After they ran the Hills out of the county...)


I'll go first and get the easy ones...after all, it's my blog.

Middle of the photo, seated: George Washington Burris. Going right of him: Mary Mathilda (Wharton) Burris, Dora Emma Burris Crites. Next row, standing from right and going left: Hazel Crites Allen on the end, George W Burris, Jr., don't know who, Margaret Jane Burris Moore, Jeff Davis Burris...and I don't know.

Seated on the grass, bottom left of photo: Ernest Arthur Burris. Standing behind him, Richard Benjamin Burris. To the right of Richard, holding a baby, William Homer Burris. Seated in the middle of a pile of kids in front and to the left of GW Sr., is Ottis Gileston Burris, who is holding a child.

That's the best I can do...

Next? Leave a comment, please...
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This one was inspired by my cousin...

Guess who's on the ledge?

George Washington Burris, Jr., in 1954...

My dad, about 1941/42...

Louise Herrington Burris, in 1978...

Louise Burris, and her daughter Jean, on Louise's birthday in 1978...They weren't technically "on the ledge," but they were very close to it...

And could it be? Why yes, I think it is moi, probably about 1974...
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I was talking to my cousin this morning to see if she remembered us having anything like The Pan.

She didn't, but she thought on it for a while.

Here's what she just emailed to me...

I was thinking about your suggestion this morning of something that might outlive us. Right now I can't think of anything we actually have now that we are still using we could pass along to one another.

However, I did think of something - a part of the landscape of the house - that is in a lot of photographs from early life at the Burris home on Crittenden Street to the end in 1980 when grandmother died. I look at this thing every time I drive by the house. It has been the setting for many a photograph and it has held up many a great man, woman and child.

The ledge.

I have attached a photograph from 1978 of Grandmother Burris sitting there - as she must have done numerous times since 1938 when the house was built. I know I sat on it many times, just not sure I was photographed there. No matter how many people were on that porch over the years, there was always someone sitting on the ledge. And only that one ledge - to the right of the front door as you were looking at it from your camera's lens in the front yard. Don't remember seeing anyone on the other - just that one..

In any case, both of those ledges seem to have been a perfect place for potted flowers or plants and I'm sure Grandmother must have thought of that, but they were always kept bare - maybe waiting for the next family member to sit for their photograph on the ledge - or maybe just for sitting as she knew her kids and grandkids did so much.

So this is my contribution. That ledge. Where so many of my loved ones had once been seated for their photograph in front of that beautiful house on Crittenden.


I think you're on to something, cuz...
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Well, I didn't remember the red corsages...but there they were...

George and Louise Burris, surrounded by all their grandchildren and a great-granddaughter, on their 40th wedding anniversary...

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I love it when little details come together. They start to knit together that third dimension of my ancestors and other family members.

See, that third dimension is important to me.

Genealogy purists would say that I am not a genealogist. There's much more to my family tree than just who married and begat whom, and what year they did that, in what location, and which piece of paper I have to back that up.


But dead people don't have to be - and were not in life - two dimensional.

Flat, ya know.
A very neat thing happened this morning.

I slept until I woke up (I love those days), and then I got coffee, a cigarette, fed the cats, and fired up the laptop.

I had the coolest email from my cousin. (I know, I am dating myself by saying something was cool, but go with it, okay...)

She scanned a bunch of the things her mother had given her related to our family history, in particular, our grandfather, George W Burris, and sent them to me.

They are *way* cool, and help to flesh out our (respective) third dimension of our grandfather.

Both of us knew Granddaddy when he was still living, and each of us has detailed remembrances of him. And naturally, both of us are pumping our own parents for their remembrances of their father.

And so we are seeing the evidence of the stories that Granddaddy was a licensed school teacher, and a licensed attorney in Pope County.

He was.

He was licensed to teach for 1912-1913.

He got his license to practice law in 1917.

I don't think he ever used either one to make his living.

But still.

I had always heard that, but only that he was licensed to practice law. Not about the teaching.

Our grandfather evidently placed a high degree of emphasis in acquiring knowledge.

Maybe he viewed both of these licenses as opening the door to other possible careers if necessary.

Maybe not. Maybe he just liked learning and wanted to see if he could get the licenses. I know people like that.

Whatever the case, he valued education. According to one of his daughters, the reason he decided to live in Arkadelphia when he returned from Panama was education.

He hoped to marry and raise a family. If they lived in Arkadelphia, his children would have easy access to either of two colleges in the town, Henderson State College, and Ouachita Baptist.

So Granddaddy was also very much a big picture guy...
Part of my delight in receiving the email from my cousin was a two page letter to Granddaddy from Lee, written in 1950, and talking about their time they worked together at the Post Office in Russellville. In 1910.

Lee was writing the letter to help Granddaddy gather information to complete an application for retirement from the United States Postal Service.

Granddaddy was trying to get credit for the time he worked at the Post Office before it became a civil service job. Lee was supplying him with an affidavit, saying he worked with George also in 1910 at the Russellville Post Office.

Page 2 of the letter...

So I am sitting here, at my grandma's table, thoughtfully sipping coffee, and thinking about Lee.

Who has to be Lee Jones.

Who appears in at least two of my family photographs, one at the Russellville Post Office, and one family photo of a bunch of Burris men at the G W Burris, Sr home in Russellville about 1915.

Lee's the guy to the far left, wearing the dark suit.

So Lee must have been important to my family. He had a connection with Granddaddy that lasted at least 40 years.

Kinda like part of the family.

Just like family.

Robert Lee Jones was Granddaddy's first cousin.

Lee's mother was Margaret Jane Burris, sister of George Washington Burris, Sr. Margaret married Cass Jones on 20 Dec 1874 in Pope County. Robert Lee Jones was born 29 Jan 1889 in Appleton, a little community in Pope County. (He must have preferred his middle name - I've never heard him referred to as anything other than Lee.)

Lee died in Sebastian County on 28 Jul 1957, seven years after he wrote his 1950 letter to Granddaddy. He is buried in Forest Park Cemetery in Fort Smith, AR.
Now I have to try and figure out if he married and had kids. If there are descendants, they may want some photos.

And they may have some, too...
The journey is good.
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Mr. and Mrs. George Burris will celebrate their 40th Wedding Anniversary Sunday, Nov. 2 and will be honored by their children with Open House at their home at 808 Crittenden between the hours of 2-4 p.m.

Mrs. Burris is the former Louise Herrington, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. M. Herrington of DeGray in Clark County. Mr. Burris is a native of Pope County, but has resided in Arkadelphia since 1923. His parents were Mr. and Mrs. G. W. Burris, Sr. of Russellville. He is a retired assistand Post Master of the local post office having retired Dec. 31, 1958.

Mr. and Mrs. Burris were married Nov. 8, 1929, at the home of Mrs. Sybil Welch. Rev. John Kilburn was the officiating minister and the attendents were Mr. and Mrs. Paul Horne.

They are the parents of three daughters, Mrs. T. A. Lensing and Mrs. Edward Neumann of Little Rock and Mrs. H. H. Rutherford, Jr. of El Dorado and one son, W. F. (Bill) Burris, also of Little Rock. They have thirteen grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

No cards will be sent but all friends and relatives are invited to attend.



Mr. and Mrs. George Burris were honored Sunday, Nov. 2 with a reception in observance of their 40th Wedding Anniversary held in their home from 2 to 4 p.m.

In the receiving line with the honorees were their four children, Mrs. T. A. Lensing and Mrs. Edward Neumann of Little Rock, Mrs. H. H. Rutherford, Jr. of El Dorado and W. F. (Bill) Burris, also of Little Rock. Mrs. Paul Horne of Malvern, twin sister of Mrs. Burris, greeted guests at the door.

The house was decorated in all areas using the appropriate colors for the occasion of red and pink. The fireplace mantel decor included ivy and crystal holders which held white tapers. The dining table was covered with a red tablecloth overlaid with a white lace cloth centered with an arrangement of red carnations and white mums flanked by candelabras with red candles. The three tiered white wedding cake with pink rosebud trim and red punch were served. Diane Pittman of El Dorado serve dthe cake and Debbie Rutherford of El Dorado and Kathy Lensing of Little Rock alternated at the punch bowl, all of whom are grandchildren. The rest of the 13 grandchildren were also dispensing hospitality and wore red corsages.

The many beautiful gifts, all of which were red or pink, were displayed and were the subject of interest and admiration.

A total of 105 guests signed the red guest book with Dee Burris in charge.

Thanks to my cousin for supplying the news clipping announcing the celebration. (One thing we both noticed was that the first clipping said Grandma's married twin sister was her attendant at her wedding. That's not true - Inez was still quite single and living with her sister and brother-in-law when they were newlyweds in the 1930 census. She did not marry until October 1930.)

You might wonder why so much to-do about a 40th wedding anniversary, when the golden 50 is the one so often seen on the society page of your hometown newspaper.

My dad clued me in on that...the family was afraid Granddaddy might not make it to the 50th.

He didn't. George Burris died on 7 May 1974, five years before his golden wedding anniversary.

Which made this celebration all the more precious...
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One of the things I notice that my grandparents did was pose for sibling photos.

My sisters and I don't do that much. We probably should, if for no other reason than to continue family tradition.

Left to right: Idelle (Sandage) Herrington, Bernice Josephine (Herrington) Stevens, Florence Isabell (Herrington) Evans, Eunice Catheline (Herrington) Granite, Addie Louise (Herrington) Burris, and Hattie Inez (Herrington) Horne.

Left to right: Dora Emma (Burris) Crites, George Washington Burris, Jr., William Homer Burris, Ottis Gileston Burris, and Walter Monroe Burris. Photo taken 11 May 1958.

From the background in the photo above, I can tell they were at St Joe Cemetery in Pope County, on Decoration Day.

I'm also pretty sure that a certain unnamed woman had no idea her best side was showing.

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Fred and Paul Burris, circa 1930, Pope Co., AR

Sons of Richard Benjamin Burris and Allie Jane Hurst.
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It was a really big name for a man of such short stature.

My dad says his father was the "runt" of his family.

There was a reason for that.
Granddaddy Burris was born on 5 Oct 1890 on Isabell Creek in rural Pope County, Arkansas. He was the seventh of twelve children born to George Washington Burris, Sr. and Mary Mathilda Wharton.
The G W Burrises were farmers, like their parents before them. Education was important, but school was held in rural Pope County around planting and harvesting season. Children had to help with the crops.

Church was also important, and was much more than just a place you went to on Sunday. Granddaddy's father, George Sr., organized a Sunday School at what would later be the site of St. Joe Baptist Freewill Baptist Church.

From a newspaper article published on October 4, 2007, noting the 120th anniversary of the St Joe Freewill Baptist Church:
In the year of 1885, George W. Burris organized a Sunday school under a bunchy top Gum Tree at St. Joe on Pea Ridge 10 miles north of Atkins. They had logs for seats and took School Readers to Sunday school. . . The Freewill Baptist Church was organized there in 1886. . . George W. Burris was the principal leader during his entire life.

The stories have varied over the years, but when Granddaddy was still a child, disease swept through the community. Whether it was scarlet or typhoid fever, it was highly contagious, and everyone who had it had to be quarantined from those who did not.

Granddaddy stayed in either the barn or a shed during the time he was ill. Meals were brought as far as the door, and he retrieved them from there. He recovered from the illness, but it left one leg shorter than the other, and I suspect, stunted his growth. He was the shortest man in his family, and walked with a limp for the rest of his life.

George W Burris, Jr. about 1910

Family ties have always been important to my Burrises.

I cannot imagine how Granddaddy must have felt to lose his youngest sister, Ocie, in 1910. Then, three years later, he lost another little sister, Arkie, in a horrible accident that also burned his brother, Ernest and his baby niece.

You expect your parents to die before you do - it's the natural order of things.

But not your little sisters.

Around the turn of the century, George Burris, Sr. became the Postmaster in Russellville. Granddaddy joined the Burris crew, and began work at the Russellville Post Office in 1910.

George Burris, Jr., William Homer Burris, Lee Jones, and
George W Burris, Sr., seated

By May 1920, Granddaddy was in Cristobal in the Panama Canal Zone as a postal clerk for services there. For a short time, he worked for an oil company in Columbia.

He re-entered the United States on 26 Mar 1922, docking at the Port of New Orleans. The man from Isabelle Creek was coming home.

Granddaddy continued to work for the Post Office. He transferred to Clark County, where he became the Assistant Postmaster at Arkadelphia in April 1923. His father, George W Burris, Sr., died on 10 Mar 1929. Although he stuck with the Post Office for 34 years until his retirement, he never got the coveted Postmaster appointment, because he would not change his political party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

Some things just couldn't be compromised.

On 18 Nov 1929, Granddaddy married Louise Herrington, and they started their own family in Clark County. His first child was born when he was 40 years old. He lived to see his first great-grandchild.

Sometimes, I am amazed at the changes my grandfather witnessed during his life. He grew up in an era where it took all day to take the crop to market in a wagon. Having a telephone in your home became commonplace during his lifetime. He witnessed the first automobiles, and commercial airplanes.

Maybe that was why he had such a hard time believing we had actually put a man on the moon. Were they really walking on the moon, or was all that television footage just an incredible hoax of underwater shots instead?

Granddaddy always seemed to me to be happy with simple things. He enjoyed puttering around the yard, and going uptown to the pool hall to shoot the breeze with his buddies and catch up on news.

Grandma wasn't happy about the "pool hall" thing, and you could tell by the way she spat the answer to you when you asked, Grandma, where's Granddaddy?

I think simple things had been fine with him all his life, even during the Great Depression, which followed so closely on the heels of his father's death. That's what he told his mother in his New Year's Eve letter to her in 1931, as he tried to assure her that the next year would surely be better than the last.


I never picture Granddaddy without his pipe.


That photo was taken at the celebration of his 80th birthday. We didn't know then that we'd only get three more birthdays with him. He died on 7 May 1974, in Arkadelphia.

And oh, the secrets he could have told us...secrets that I am only discovering now.

See you on the other side, Granddaddy.
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Left to right: Hattie (Chapin) Balding, Jo Carleton "Buddy" Williams, Sue (Keene) Williams, Russell Ellington "Linky" Balding, Judith Ann (Williams) Burris Neumann, Jo Duffie Williams, Lucille Balding.

Sadly, only one of those folks is still alive.
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That's what my dad calls them - when siblings from one family marry siblings from another. The kids from each family are not only cousins, but double cousins.

We have a lot of those in my family. But these are our favorite pairs.


Left to right...Elbert, George, Homer and Earl Burris

I'm guessing the date of the photo to be around 1905. And this one always cracks me up, because these were "good" Baptist boys, but they look to me like members of an organized crime family hiding out in the woods.

Elbert (1887-1978) and Earl (1901-1973) were brothers, and the sons of Jefferson William (1860-1941) and Margaret Malinda (Wharton) Burris (1862-1927).

George (1890-1974) and Homer (1887-1974) were also brothers and the sons of George Washington (Sr) (1856-1929) and Mary Mathilda (Wharton) Burris (1859-1938).

Here are the parents of the double cousins.


Seated, left to right - George Burris, Jeff Burris
Standing, left to right - Mary Mathilda Burris, Margaret Malinda Burris,
Margaret Jane (Burris) Moore, sister of George and Jeff
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Ocie Myrtis and Arkie Lucille Burris, about 1904

Arkie and Ocie, about 1909

They were the two youngest daughters of my great-grandparents, George Washington and Mary Mathilda (Wharton) Burris. Arkie Lucille was born on 26 Jan 1899 and Ocie Myrtis was born on 14 Mar 1901.

I've never seen a photo of one of them where the other wasn't present. Perhaps because they were the youngest, they were always dressed up in the cutest little dresses when they posed for their photos.

Ocie died first, on 12 Oct 1910, of malaria.

Arkie died from burns from an exploding lamp of wood alcohol on 4 Jun 1913. The local paper reported on her death.

Three Persons Badly Burned at Appleton: Ernest Burris and Baby and Miss Arky Burris Painfully Injured by Exploding Lamp

News reached the city last night that Ernest Burris, rural mail carrier at Appleton, had been badly burned by an exploding lamp, and a few minutes later his father, Geo W Burris, Homer Burris, a brother, accompanied by Dr C J Ross, were speeding in an auto to the home of the injured man. They returned this morning and reported all the injured persons as doing as well as could be expected, and that all will recover unless unexpected complications arise.

They report that Mr Burris was filling an alcohol lamp when the bottle of wood alcohol exploded. Arky, the fourteen year old daughter of Postmaster Burris, who was visiting the family of her brother, was standing near, and her clothing ignited. She ran outdoors and around the house, being painfully burned about the body from the waist up and her arms before the flames were extinguished by her brother and others who came to the rescue. Mr Burris received painful burns on the hands in extinguishing the flames. His baby's clothing was also ignited and she was painfully burned.

None of the injured were burned about the face, Miss Burris' burns being mostly in the back, and on her arms when she threw her hands to the back of her head to protect her head from the flames at her back. Mr Burris' hands are a solid mass of blisters and deep burns and he will be unable to work for some time.

Miss Burris Died From Burns Received Monday - Injuries at First Not Thought Serious Results in Death This Morning

A telephone message at noon today brought news of the death of Miss Arky Burris, fourteen year old daughter of Postmaster Geo W Burris, at the home of her brother at Appleton, where she was burned by an exploding lamp or bottle of wood alcohol Monday night.

At the time of going to press yesterday, her injuries were not considered serious and the physicians expressed the belief that she would recover. She grew worse, however, and early this morning it was stated there was little hope for her recovery.

Both Mr and Mrs Burris were at her bedside, and the entire family have the sympathy of many friends throughout the county. She will be laid to rest at St Joe Cemetery near Appleton Thursday morning at 11 o'clock.
(Source: Russellville Democrat Courier, 5 Jun 1913)

I leave tokens on Arkie's and Ocie's findagrave memorials frequently.
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John Crockett Burris was the son of John and Cynthia Ann (Ashmore) Burris, who at the age of 1 year, made the journey with his parents, extended family and a multitude of neighbors from Lawrence Co., TN to Pope Co., AR in 1838 in an ox drawn wagon party.


John Crockett Burris, 4 Apr 1837-10 Jun 1880
Ford Cemetery, Pope Co., AR

John married Sarah Ann Harrelson, daughter of Claiborne C and Phebe Harrelson on 7 Apr 1859. John and Sarah had one child, James Mitchell Burris, before John joined Confederate troops at Dover on 20 Jun 1862. By 24 Aug 1863, he must have had enough of war, because the Confederate Army said he deserted, and gave a description of him in its records - Ht 5' 7", eyes gray, hair drk, complx lt, farmer, age 25, born in TN.

John and Sarah went on to have six more children, several of whom died before adulthood. Sarah is also buried at Ford Cemetery, as are children Phoebe Ann Burris (1866-1884), Mollie (1874 - 1879), Carrie Louella (1875-1884), and John Marion (1878-1879), born one week before his mother died on 8 Dec 1878.

Sarah Ann Harrelson Burris, 1838-1878

Carrie Louella Burris

John Marion Burris


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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