dee_burris: (Default)
2012-09-02 09:09

Sentimental Sunday: Thinking about Hetty Hill...

Over at 2338 W Washington Blvd., Margel wrote about the struggle of a widow to get financial support from her deceased husband's estate, finally having to sue.

It's a very interesting post, and according to my own family research, not an uncommon event. There are widows in my family tree who, having been given the family home and land, had no financial means to pay the taxes, hire the farmhands, or whatever was needed. In some cases, after debts had been paid, there was only a pittance in cash left over. Some of those widows applied for their husband's military pensions (as their widows), and then had to fight to get more than a few dollars a year.

Margel listed some of the expenses of the estate, with scans of receipts. One of the expenses she mentioned was for the burial of Thomas Gilshannon - $35 for a shroud, coffin and box.

I noted in a comment that the funeral expenses for Hetty Hill were included the 1897 accounting of the guardian of her brothers as an expense against their deceased mother's estate. (And Margel, I was wrong - $7.50 was half the cost of her coffin. My great granddad - the boys' guardian - paid the other half.)
The psychological specter of Hetty Hill continues to flit in and out of my thoughts.

She was the only daughter of 5 - or perhaps 6 - children my g-g-grandfather, James Littleton Burris had with Martha J F (Vick) Hill between 8 Apr 1869 and 10 Mar 1883.

While he was still married to my g-g-grandmother, Elizabeth Adeline Ashmore.

I wrote about my discovery of granddaddy's other family, our 150 year old Burris family secret, in the fall of 2010.

The whole thing still bugs me.

But Hetty is one of the parts of it that bug me the most.
According to a cemetery book painstakingly researched and published by Lina and CL Boyd, Martha J F Vick Hill is buried beside her youngest son, Charley L Hill, in St Joe Cemetery. Not far from where my dad lives.

The book says there are no dates of birth or death for her from the records of her burial.

And there is no marker. There is a rock deliberately placed in the ground next to Charley's grave.

So in records of the cemetery, Martha's burial is simply noted. That's all.

And I don't care what century it was, or how anyone might have felt about Martha and James screwing around...if you can call evidence of a relationship that lasted at least 14 years (and probably all the way up to her death in 1893) screwing around.

That's just wrong.
But what about Hetty?

Where is she buried?

The 1897 annual estate accounting lists Richard and Charley Hill's half share of Hetty's coffin as $7.50. George W Burris, Sr., the guardian, paid the other half.

That accounting was filed with the Clerk of Court on 28 Jan 1897. So Hetty died before that date.

I don't know if she was married or not at the time of her death. The itemization for the expense simply says, "Coffin for sister (1500) 1/2 of which is $7.50."

According to the 1880 census, Hetty was 5 at the time the census was enumerated. So if she were born in 1875, and died before 28 Jan 1897, she would have been 21 or 22 at the time of her death.

And there is no record that I can find of her burial.

But there are a few more "deliberately placed" rocks in the area of Charley, James (and wives) and Martha Hill's graves.

And all over the cemetery. Every time I walk through there, taking photographs, I have to pause by one and another of a few those rocks that are just out on their own - not close to any family plot.

And I wonder. Is Hetty buried under one of those?