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Dee Burris Blakley ([personal profile] dee_burris) wrote2011-10-29 09:47 am

Connecting more dots...

I met my second cousin yesterday.

He and his wife traveled from Texas for a reunion of his leg of the Burris family that will be held in Fort Smith this weekend.

He wanted to see St. Joe Cemetery, where his grandfather, Walter Monroe Burris, is buried with a whole bunch of our Burris clan. He also wanted to see the old homeplace where our ancestor, James Littleton Burris, built the cabin that housed so many Burris descendants.

We decided to rendezvous at a gas station at the Atkins exit off Interstate 40.
I called Dad as we left the gas station so he could meet us at the cemetery.

I had to call when we left, because within 10 minutes, we all lost all cell phone signals as we headed up into the modest mountains of rural Pope County.

As we gathered outside the cemetery gates, we had a discussion about how we were related.

My second cousin (sorry, guys but the family tree software says Carl is my second cousin, and Dad's first cousin, once removed) descends from James Littleton Burris and Elizabeth Adeline Ashmore like this:

James and Adeline Burris
George Washington (Sr) and Mary M (Wharton) Burris
Walter Monroe and Grace (Bowden) Burris
Cecil Blain and Arlie Ann (Fridell) Burris

For my dad, it goes like this:
James and Adeline Burris
George Washington (Sr) and Mary M (Wharton) Burris
George Washington (Jr) and Addie Louise (Herrington) Burris

G W (Jr) and Walter were brothers.
The old cabin that was the original homeplace was demolished in the mid 1960s and there is not even a footprint left. The old well, dug by hand, is still there, but covered.

We went on to Dad's house - just across the road - and this time, I was all ears as Dad and Carl started swapping the details of the stories they heard.

We used to grow our own wheat. Dad's dad told him about how they used to get the wheat ready to take into Atkins to the mill, and would load the wagon the night before and put it in the barn. Then, they'd get up before sunup the next morning and make the trip into Atkins to the mill. They got back home after dark.

Apparently, that trip got *really* old and my ancestors decided to have their own mill - in the barn. Carl's dad told him about how that mill was built - with leather bearings, no less (James Burris was a tanner) - and used a mule or a horse to go round and round to grind the wheat.

And wouldn't I love to have a photo or a piece of a millstone?
Carl hadn't realized that after the 1838 migration of our Burris and Ashmore ancestors from Lawrence Co., TN, where young James Burris and Adeline Ashmore walked most of the trip and fell in love, they had not immediately married.

They were married on 12 Nov 1840. I always figured it was because Adeline was only 15 during the trip, but something Carl told us made me wonder if it wasn't for a more practical consideration.

Carl said not long after the large ox-drawn wagon party - of not only our Burrises and Ashmores, but a whole bunch of their neighbors - got to Center Valley, 20 year old James Burris took off with a gun and an ax, to go find him some land and build a home.

By the time he had been gone for about three months with no word to the folks back in Center Valley, they began to fear he was dead.

Then, the sigh of relief - James came back. And the homeplace was built, and another move undertaken, this time to the fertile land next to Isabell Creek, where most of James and Adeline's 10 children were born. (The first died - most likely stillborn - and was buried in the first grave in Old Baptist Cemetery in Center Valley.)
We swapped photos during our visit, and Carl had a real gem.

Walter Monroe Burris and first wife, Grace Bowden, undated family photo

We have scant few photos of Walter, and none as a young man. To see Grace's image was very precious.
This journey through my family's history is a real delight.

To meet a cousin who shares much of my history - he at age 82, my dad at 75, and me at age 53...

Well, that's just beyond words.


(Anonymous) 2011-11-28 04:21 pm (UTC)(link)
Dee, Daddy has a millstone at moms house in HSNP, AR. If you want just any old picture of one i can get one of his.
Freeman Jennie