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2011-05-21 09:37 am

Sepia Saturday: Passing the torch...

I love this photo.

It's my dad with his grand Uncle Jeff and grand Aunt Margaret.



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William Jefferson "Jeff" Burris, my dad, Margaret Jane Burris Moore



I figure that photo was taken when Dad was about 4, so it was probably very shortly before Uncle Jeff died in January 1941.

Margaret lived until 1944.

George and Louise Burris must have made a trip from Arkadelphia back to Russellville with my aunts and my dad.

Like my grandparents, we had generational Burris photos in our scrapbooks for many years, too. Photos of me and my sisters at our grand Aunt Emma's house when our family camped not far from the original James Littleton and Adeline Burris homestead in Pope County.

A lot of those photos were lost in a 100 year flood in December 1982, when a freak tornado ripped through Arkansas and dumped a deluge of water across my ancestral homeplace.


We camped on the homestead over 100 years after James and Adeline must have camped on the homestead while they were building their home.

As a kid, I couldn't appreciate that full circle of family history. I enjoyed fishing off the spillway for perch that Dad used to bait his yo-yos and trotlines, and I loved digging for worms beside Aunt Emma's chicken coop. Dad took me through fields that our ancestors had cleared long ago for planting and I was enthralled by the low stacked stone walls they built as they removed the rocks and loosened the soil for planting.


A new cousin found me this week. We aren't sure yet exactly how close our kinship is, but as we compare notes and sources from our family trees, she is prompting memories.

Thank you, Shirley. I need to remember, and pass it on.


The journey is good.

This is a Sepia Saturday post.
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2011-04-06 07:22 pm

Bits and Pieces

When I went to Pope County to see my folks this past weekend, they loaned me a couple of local history books.

One was History of Pope County, Arkansas. (Pope County Historical Association of Arkansas and Hunter Publishing, 1979.)

I found several entries of interest in the section of family biographies for people in our family tree.


An entry about Joshua Alfred Ashmore at page 136:

Joshua married Sept. 1, 1853 in Gum Log, Nancy Melinda Guest, who had recently come on a wagon train with her parents, Moses Holland Guest...and Sarah Minerva Turner from Milledgeville, Georgia. In spite of his southern wife, Joshua was a northern sympathizer when the Civil War broke out. A target of the "night riders," he hid out in swampy places until he got to the Union Army where he enlisted. He became sick with malaria, and Nancy went to his camp to nurse him, leaving their children, William Anderson (b 1854), Samuel Henry (b 1857), Sarah Elizabeth (b 1860), Nancy Ann (Nannie) (b 1862), and infant Eliza Adelaide (b Jan 1865) at home. She got pregnant while at camp and Mary Jane was born 11 months after Eliza in 1865. Robert Holland was born in 1870.

Joshua died May 11, 1871, never fully recovering from the exposure he endured during the Civil War....
Originally written by Helen Peters Mauk.


More information on page 16 about little Grace Electra Shinn, daughter of Josiah Hazen Shinn and Mildred Carleton Williams:

...About where the pool hall is on Main Street, the Judds lived in a two story frame house. They may have kept boarders, but at least Mrs. Judd fed folks. Every day at noon she would come out of her front door and ring an old fashioned dinner bell, loud and long.

It was at Mrs. Judd's house where I first came in contact with death. Professor Josiah H Shinn, who later wrote a history of Arkansas, was superintendent of our public schools, and his family lived at the Judd home. His daughter, Gracie, was a classmate of mine, and she died at Mrs. Judd's house. Her classmates marched from there to the cemetery, the girls dressed in white, and all of us with a black band on our arm.
Originally written by Miss May Russell.


I learned on page 27 that Mary Ann Shinn was a heckuva housekeeper, but often late with supper.

Mary Ann Shinn Booher kept a neat house. Her table was always set at all times with the plates turned down and the whole table covered with a misquito (sic) net. Her dining room floors, as were all the floors in her house, was scrubbed with a shuck mop end (sic) lye soap as thick as molasses, then rinsed and dried. She had mirrows (sic) hanging on all walls above the washstands. As she passed through a room, she would glance into the mirrow and smooth her hair or dust the puff cotton across her nose that took the shine off. Her one failing was her slowness to get things done. Many times she would be 9:00 o'clock at night getting the supper on the table. Originally written by Geneva Taylor Booher.


And was surprised to read on page 35 of the decidedly unpastoral conduct of the Rev. Warren Washington Strickland when provoked to righteous anger...

It is said the Rev. W. W. Strickland, first moderator of the Sulpher Springs [Cumberland Presbyterian] Church, believed in strict order while he was preaching. During those days there were a lot of ruffians and it was nothing unusual for Rev. Strickland to ask the boys to behave and if they didn't, he would walk back and slap or hit them with his fist and keep on preaching. Originally written by J. B. Lemley.
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2011-04-04 05:52 pm

Tombstone Tuesday: Moore family plot

The Moore family plot at St Joe Cemetery, just down the road from my dad's home in Pope County, drew my attention yesterday.

It is guarded by an assortment of four footed sentinels.

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2011-04-03 07:31 pm

The (very) old Freeman homeplace

Last spring, a little over a year to this day, my dad and I went to take photos of the McCarley family cemetery, long abandoned and quite neglected.

As we emerged four-wheel drive hell, we came across an old abandoned homeplace on our cousin-in-law's land. We didn't stop then, but I have been dying to get photos of it ever since.

My plat book says that William Alfred Freeman got a land patent on that parcel in 1845. The home, which shows signs of two additions, probably will not be standing much longer. If any of the Freeman descendants are interested, below are photos of how it looks now, as well as the little bit of Freeman family history I've been able to piece together.

Because as can be expected, one of the Freemans married into the Burris clan...


Dad and I saw the house from the side on that first trip, and discussed whether it was really a house or an old barn.

You get the front view first.

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It's a shotgun house, as was common in the South (best seen from the rear).

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However, as Dad pointed out to me, it didn't start that way.

The house had two additions to it over the years, as you can see in the side view here, with different styles of siding on each addition and the original.

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As I looked at how small that first section was, I wondered how many people the home had sheltered before they decided to add on.

William Alfred Freeman probably did not live there very long. He got the land patent in 1845, but died by 1847. His widow, Mary Elizabeth Ward lived until 1873.

I found three of their sons in the 1850 census in Conway County (this land was at that time in Griffin Township, Conway County, and did not become Pope County until later).

Those sons were Alfred (born in 1822), Thomas (born in 1825) and Jesse (born in 1831). Alfred was married by the 1850 census, and he and his wife, Kezziah Mariah Bass, had two sons, Richard and James.

Thomas was a newlywed at the 1850 census, having married Lucinda Angeline Burris, daughter of John Burris and Cynthia Ann Ashmore. Jesse was still single.

So it's possible that in 1850, the first section of that house provided a home for as many as eight people. (Side view with sections marked in red below.)

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The house stood on rock pilings.

Dad noticed that several of the rocks had been chiseled to make them fit snugly together.

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Because of the shape of this one, we wondered if it had been flipped over at the entrance to make a step more stable.

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Even if they hauled the rocks from the creekbed nearby, it's still about a quarter of a mile away.

And then, they chiseled them by hand.


I don't know who lived in the house when the Freemans left it, or if anyone did.

But it's a little bit of history in the woods of Pope County, and I wanted to be able to remember it, even after it is gone.
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2011-02-20 11:48 am

Oh heavens...another mystery Burris child...

Funny thing about dreams...

I had "one of those" dreams last night.

The kind that just pop up out of the blue, and when you wake up from them, you're thinking, now where did THAT come from?


I wasn't even thinking about Burrises last night when I went to bed. Or Hills.

I was thinking about Callaways.

That's what made it so weird to wake up - completely awake - at 3 a.m. this morning with the feeling that I needed to go back and look up that mystery Burris kid in the 1880 census.

The one I asked my dad about two or three years years ago when I first found him. Neither of us had ever heard anything about a child born after Richard, who was the youngest of James and Adeline Burris' children.

He was as clueless as I was. Still is.


Nancy Elizabeth Burris was the oldest daughter of my g-g-grandparents, James Littleton Burris and Elizabeth Adeline Ashmore, born on 1 Apr 1845 in Pope County, AR.

On 2 Nov 1865, she married William Calvin Jones in Pope County. They had a daughter, Mary Jane, who was born on 12 Oct 1866.

Calvin Jones died of dysentery on 31 Jul 1879 in Conway County, AR, and was buried in Cedar Grove Cemetery, Conway County, AR.

So, in the 1880 census, Nancy Jones was a widow, raising her young daughter, Mary Jane, in Griffin Township, Conway County, AR.

And a little brother, Irving Burris, who was 27 years her junior.

Huh?

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She knows her little brother, Irving, was born in Arkansas and that he is 8 years old. But she doesn't know where his parents were born.

Sure she doesn't.


I moved on to Nancy's parents, James and Adeline.

In the 1880 census, they were still on the homeplace in Griffin Township, Pope County.

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Jeff Burris, their son, and Lucinda Burris, their daughter, were still living at home.

In addition, they were supporting Porter McDonald Burris, James' grand-nephew, because his mother, Sarah Ann Harrelson, had died in 1878. Porter's father must have been very ill. Two days after this census was taken, Porter's father, John Crockett Burris, died.

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This was probably the smallest household James and Adeline had in many years.

So why was there no room at the inn for Nancy Burris Jones' little brother - and their son - Irving Burris?

Irving coincidentally fits very neatly into the birth order of Martha (Vick) Hill's children by James Littleton Burris, between Benjamin Flemons Hill and daughter, Hetty.

Only I don't believe in coincidence.


Preliminary searching in the wee small hours this morning was a big zero.

I cannot find Irving Burris, Irving Hill, * Irving Burris, * Irving Hill, or any of those other wildcard combinations in the 1900 census - in Arkansas, or in any other state, born in 1872/1873 in Arkansas.

I'll look in the other usual places - like the World War I draft - later on today.

For the mystery Burris child...
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2011-02-09 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.

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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.

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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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2011-02-03 06:54 pm

Friends of Friends Friday: Wiley

Last summer, my dad and I made the rounds of several little Pope County cemeteries close to the Burris homeplace, looking for graves of Burrises and allied families.

I was surprised to see this stone in Appleton Cemetery - it is considered a "white" cemetery.


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Wiley (black boy) died Feb 26 1857
about 28 years old - servant of Joe Poe


Obviously, that's not a 150 year old stone, either in condition or language. I remember that I remarked cryptically to my dad that someone had used a strange euphemism for the word slave when the stone was carved. Dad wondered if there was more to it than that, given that Wiley was buried in a cemetery for whites.

Joe Poe was a landowner in Pope County with a very large family. I checked the 1860 Federal Census Slave Schedule, and did not find him listed, although he and his family were enumerated in the 1860 census.

So I went back to 1850. He had one male slave, 20 years old in that census.

Maybe Dad was right.

Maybe Wiley had more significance to Joe Poe than "just" a slave...
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2011-01-24 04:41 pm

Tombstone Tuesday: Ada Lenora Tiner Strickland

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Ada Lenora, wife of W A Strickland. June 12, 1870 - April 10, 1928. God gave, He took.
He will restore. He doeth all things well.


She was the daughter of Cicero Tiner and Phebe Emmaline Boyd. She married William Alexander Strickland on 1 Apr 1891 in Pope Co., AR, and is buried in Oakland Cemetery at Atkins.
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2011-01-03 05:56 pm

Tombstone Tuesday: Infant Burris

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This was the first grave in Old Baptist Cemetery in Center Valley, Pope Co., AR.

It's the grave of the first infant of James Littleton Burris and Elizabeth Adeline Ashmore.

The baby was stillborn in 1841, about a year after they married, and about two and a half years after they arrived in Pope County from Lawrence Co., TN.