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I spent some time at the Arkansas History Commission yesterday, scrolling through microfilm of old newspapers to find some more obituaries.

I found the one for my paternal great grandmother, Mary Mathilda Wharton, but not for her husband, George Washington Burris, Sr.
Funeral Friday for Mrs. Mary M Burris
Mrs. Mary Matilda Burris, 72 years old, long time resident of Pope county, died Thursday afternoon at the home of her daughter, Mrs. W T Crites, rural route 3, Atkins, Ark.

Mrs. Burris was born at Anderson, Ala., and came to Pope county when she was 17 years old. She had lived in Russellville until a short time ago. Mrs. Burris was the wife of the late George Burris, former postmaster at Russellville.

In addition to the daughter, survivors include six sons, Ernest Burris, Conway; Homer Burris, Hensley; Richard Burris, Atkins; Walter Burris, Short Okla.; George Burris, Arkadelphia; and a brother, Ed Whorton (sic), Walnut Creek, Calif.

Funeral service was conducted Friday at 3 p.m. at the St. Joe cemetery, north of Atkins by Rev. F M Hudson, Free Will Baptist minister, assisted by Rev. W R Jobe. Arrangements were directed by the Shinn and Son Funeral Home of Russellville.

Published on Thursday, 2 Jun 1938, in the Russellville Courier-Democrat
I learned two things from this obit.

I knew Mary was born in Alabama, but now I have a town and county.

I didn't know she died at Aunt Emma's house.
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I have the greatest amount of information about my Tennessee Burrises who came to Arkansas.

One of my strongest brick walls is my 3rd great grandfather, William Burris.

I have no idea who his parents were, or his siblings.

A couple of his sons have stumped me also.

Richard Charles Burris was child number 6 of William Burris and Elizabeth Bailey. (I will probably get some indignant hate mail from other Burris researchers on that statement, as there are at last count, some Burris researchers who say William and Elizabeth had 15 children before her death about 1835. However, I can only account for 11, so I'm standing by what I said, and if someone wants to give me some evidence to review, I'm happy to look at it.)
Richard Charles Burris married Sarah "Sally" A Rogers on 29 Jul 1832, in Tennessee.

He was 20 years old, and she, 15. They appear briefly in Pope County, AR, in the 1840 census. But by 1860, they were back in Hardin Co., TN, where most of their children were born.

I've only been able to trace one of their 9 children, James Andrew Burris, all the way to the end of his life.

Family lore says Richard was killed in the Civil War. In the 1880 census, Sally Burris was living with her youngest son, Henry in Pope Co., IL.

And son James appeared to lived most of his life in Massac Co., IL. He married Lydia Ann Denton on 13 Jan 1869 in Gallatin Co., IL.

James Andrew Burris, Lydia Denton Burris, Emily E "Emma" Burris, photo circa 1871

James Andrew Burris died on 4 Jul 1925 in Hillerman, Massac Co., IL. Lydia followed him in death almost 16 years to that day, on 3 Jul 1941, at the home of her daughter, Sarah Elizabeth, "Betty" Burris Culver, in Hillerman, Massac Co., IL.
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Ernest Arthur Burris was the second of twelve children born to George Washington Burris, Sr., and Mary Mathilda Wharton.

He was also their second son. He was born 2 Nov 1880, as our family says "on Isabell Creek," and died in 1952.

On 5 Feb 1905, he married Ida May McCauley. She was the daughter of Patrick McCauley (who was born in Ireland), and Mary E Thoss. Ida was born 22 Apr 1887, and died 10 May 1971. She and Ernest are buried in St. Joe Cemetery in Pope County, not far from where Ernest was born.

This photo is of Ernest and Ida in 1950 at St. Joe.

Ernest, in an undated photo.

Ernest and Ida had three sons, Lewis Earl Burris, Fay O Burris, and Ernest McCauley Burris.

Lewis Earl Burris, undated photo.

Lewis Earl Burris was born 28 Oct 1905, and died 24 May 1971. He is buried in St. Joe Cemetery also, and is the grandfather of the cousin who shared these photos with me.
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These are courtesy of a newly discovered cousin who found the blog.

George Washington Burris Sr., and wife Mary Mathilda Wharton, undated photo

George Washington Burris, Sr., undated photo

Left to right: Dora Emma (Burris) Crites, Ottis Gileston Burris and wife, Gertha Leah Hill, on the occasion of what we believe was Ott and Gertha's 55th wedding anniversary in 1971.

Thanks to my cousin for sharing.
dee_burris: (Default) sent me an update email announcing the addition of thousands of photos of "The Wall," the memorial to veterans who died in World War II during the invasion of Pearl Harbor.

I had to look for my fourth cousin, Woodrow Lyle Rainey, son of Edgar Clarence Rainey and Millie Mae Burris.

And he was there.


You can search for names of your family members on "The Wall" by clicking this link, but you will have to be a member to see the images from the free index.
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The ones in my huge family portrait, circa 1920s, in the static entry at the top of the blog.

I've been getting some emails from a second cousin, once removed, who found the blog and is comparing notes with her mom.

And I'm hoping they will agree to do a guest blog post here.

~genealogy happy-dance~

Lucky me...

Nov. 4th, 2011 06:28 pm
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I am waiting on mail.

*Real* mail - not a window envelope.

With never before seen photos (at least by me) of some of my Burris kin.

I'm practicing my happy dance...
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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.
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The back of the photo said 1950 in Florida.

Dad said it was Louisiana.

My dad, and his dad...George Washington Burris, Jr.

And they caught some huge fish...

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To Pope County to meet my newly found second cousin and tromp through a cemetery with him.

It's a crisp fall day, we had rain yesterday, and there is a mist shrouding the ground.

And...I was contacted by another new cousin this week.

This journey is good.
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A probable Meek cousin, from some of my entries at Find a Grave...

A for real second cousin of the Burris kind, whom I'll get to meet in person on October 28, when we rendezvous at a gas station at the Atkins exit of Interstate 40, on our way to St. Joe Cemetery...

And bless his soul...a cousin several times removed, who found my online tree and is now catching up on the 140 year old Burris secret after emailing me to ask if I knew who his grandfather's father was...His grandfather was James L Hill.
If you've been putting your family history out on the internet and are wondering if it's worth all the time and effort you've put into it...

Let me assure you, it is.
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He's 75 today. I called him this morning to wish him well. We talked about how 3/4 of a century is kind of a landmark.

Even then, I was thinking...when he grins, you can still see this little guy...


Happy birthday, Dad.

Hope it's a real good one for you.
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William H D Burris was the son of William James Burris and Mary Jane Matthews. He was my second cousin, twice removed.

He married three of the Burks sisters, and buried two of them. The last, Frances, outlived him by 20 years.

Nancy was his first wife. They married on 27 Jul 1879 in Pope County.


Nancy was the daughter of James Edward Burks and Nancy Mildred Patterson. She bore William H D three children before her death on 16 Aug 1886.
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I wish this was my Walter Burris.

But the dates aren't right, because when this news article appeared in 1899, my Walter Burris was 17, and his sister was two years younger than he.

I know I have to be related to this Walter somehow, but I can't figure it out yet.

Someone is missing a really good story to hand down through the ages...the day Great Granddaddy was pardoned by the Governor for fist fighting at recess...

Arkansas Gazette, 6 Sep 1899


Each of the Participants Was Fined, $5 and Costs.
Peculiar Kind of Justice Meted Out in Pope County.

Walter Burris, a thirteen-year-old boy, who was convicted in the court of Justice John Cooper in Pope county August 22 of disturbing the peace and fined $5 and costs, was pardoned yesterday by Gov. Jones. Hon H.F. Aulen, (sp) of this city, presented the papers in the case.

The facts in this case show it to be one of the most peculiar that has come to the attention of the governor in some time and in conversation with a Gazette reporter he denounced in strong terms any person who would file information such as was filed in this case. "A boy who wouldn't defend himself in a schoolboy fight isn't worth the powder and lead it would take to kill him," said the governor.

Burris, it seems, was one of a number of boys attending a small country school in Pope county. One day at recess he had a fight with a playmate named Wheeler Teague, the same age. The schoolteacher, who was a sister of Burris, heard of the fight and called the boys before her for corporal punishment. She whipped her little brother, but Teague refused to submit to a thrashing and left the school. Some person who was passing reported the fight to Justice Cooper and a warrant was issued for the arrest of both of the boys. They were taken before the Justice and each fined $5 and costs, a total of $8.50.

The petition for the pardon of Burris bore sixty-five signatures, nearly all the electors in the township, and said in part: "The justice who tried this case was biased and prejudiced against Burris and his family."
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Aunt Emma was the oldest sister of my paternal grandfather, Goerge Washington Burris, Jr. She was the only one of his four sisters to live to adulthood, and I always had the sense that they were a very close sibling pair - after all, Granddaddy named his second daughter after her.

Aunt Emma outlived my granddad by eight years.
She was born Dora Emma Burris, fourth child of George Washington Burris, Sr., and Mary Mathilda Wharton, and their first daughter.

Dora Emma Burris, c. 1890

She was, as were all her brothers and sisters, born "on Isabel Creek," in those days before birth certificates required exact locations of birth. Isabel Creek was, and still is, an important landmark in rural Pope Co., AR.

Emma married Walter Thomas Crites, who was known as Tom or Tommy, on 15 May 1906, just before her 21st birthday. Tom Crites was the son of Adam "Green" Crites and Mary Elizabeth Worsham.


Emma's firstborn son, Eldrege, was not quite six months old when she and Tom Crites married. My understanding is that from the day they married, Eldrege became - and was always treated as - Tom's son. End of story.

Emma's family grew. She and Tom had a son, Elston Reece, on 9 Sep 1907, and a daughter, Hazel Matilda, on 10 Oct 1908.

Emma must have been pregnant with Hazel when this family photo was taken.

Left to right: Emma, Eldrege, Tom holding Reese

Emma and Tom had a son, named for Emma's father and younger brother, on 15 Nov 1909. George Washington Crites died shortly after his first birthday on 30 Nov 1910.

Tom Crites died on 10 Jul 1950, so I never knew him.
I knew Aunt Emma when she was much older - in her late 70s and early 80s.

When I was a kid, we camped not far from her little house on Crites Road - the house that still had a wood cookstove. I'd go to her house to dig beside her chicken coop for the big, fat worms we used for fish bait. She always sent us home after the weekend was over with something she had canned.

And if the conversation took a turn she didn't like, she turned her hearing aids off, and shouted, Can't hear ya...
We have photos of Aunt Emma on grandaddy's birthday and hers.

Emma helping brother George survey his birthday loot

Emma on her 88th birthday in June 1973

Dora Emma Burris Crites died on 15 Apr 1982, and was buried beside her husband in St. Joe Cemetery, Pope Co., AR.
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George Washington Burris, Sr., feeding the turkeys...I'm just going to guess that this may have been taken in the early to mid 1920s. If that's the case, then they had turkeys in town (Russellville), which would not be out of the question.

George Washington Burris, Sr. died in 1929.

This is a Sepia Saurday post.
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Well, except for that 10+ hour long power outage on Wednesday afternoon until 2:09 a.m. on Thursday.

The hottest day and night since they have been recording such for Arkansas.

But the Entergy heroes came through, so we won't dwell on that...
Started looking into my brother-in-law's family genealogy for him this week, and today, I hit the mother lode.

Got my monthly update email from Genealogy Bank.

Looked to see what was new.

And swooned. (Okay, not really, but you know what I mean.)

They added the Dover Sun, published in the little New Hampshire town all his Rollinses are from.

About 40 years worth from the late 1700s through the beginning of the 1800s...

And so I have been, as we say here in the South, in high cotton all day long.
And then, what to my wondering eyes should appear...

No, not the sleigh and eight tiny reindeer, although I could stand some of *those* temperatures...

An email from a guy who found my online tree while trying to clear up a mystery in his own.

Turns out the wife of my paternal grand uncle, who married him at age 17, was married before that to this guy's great 15.

Mama signed a note.

But my grand-aunt still called herself "Miss" two years later when she married Uncle Homer...

So now Dad and I are wondering...did Uncle Homer know?


But maybe not. If I've learned anything in the last few years of shakin' the family tree, it's that these Burrises could damn sure keep a secret...
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PhotobucketIt was a good week for...

...Making connections with another Burris researcher through the Burris DNA Project. We don't seem to be able to connect our dots yet - hers start in North and South Carolina though, so there is hope. Her family is descended through Solomon Burriss. Her husband was a 12/12 marker match for my father.

...Making quite a bit of progress on tracking one side of the family of my cousin's wife. She's Italian on her mother's side and Hungarian on her dad's. There was all sorts of information available about her maternal great grandfather, Rocco Bruno Galloro - not so much about her paternal great grandfather, Miliály Latrany.

And the women - well, don't get me started on that...
PhotobucketIt was a bad week for...

...Figuring out whether the 12th Missouri Cavalry, in which Franklin Marion Burris served during the Civil War, was a Union or Confederate unit. Ancestry says it was Confederate, and gives me the transcription of a muster roll record that I can't find an image for on Footnote. A Missouri Civil War website says it was Union. Given what I know about Franklin Marion's brothers, one of whom was my great great grandfather, James Littleton Burris, I'm betting Ancestry is right.

But I want to know for sure.

...Getting photos of those five addresses in Little Rock where I hope ancestral homes are still standing. I had a very busy schedule this past week, including car repairs, which I see are not quite complete now.

Front brake job, here I come.

...Finding any indication about what happened to Jonathan Burris once his brothers left Lawrence Co., TN to move to Pope Co., AR. Family lore had it that Jonathan drowned while they were crossing the Mississippi River, but a 1937 letter by William Andrew Burris says Jonathan left Lawrence County for Reelfoot Lake, KY, and had three sons.

I think I *may* have found some information about one of those sons, Wiley. But it is way too preliminary to draw any conclusions. I have two possible 1850 censuses, one in Hardin Co., TN, and one in Adair Co., KY.

So the search goes on...
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I get emails regularly from all my subscription genealogy research services.

Ancestry sent me one last month that I just set aside, so I went to read it today.

Come take a look, they said, at the new records we have in the passport applications.

So I did.

Lookie what I found.

My granddaddy's passport application. He was assisted by the US Consulate in Panama to get an emergency passport, since he had already been living Panama for over a year. (Don't know if that was an oopsie or not.)


I guess passport photos have always looked really serious...


Dad says he thinks the 500 Long Street address is now Phoenix Avenue in Russellville.
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I have several Dads in my life, even though only one of them is my own.

For all the Dads out there, I hope this day is one you enjoy.
My Dad is nearly 75. He was 22 years old, when I, his firstborn, arrived.

I like to think we've done some growing up together. I know the last 20 years is probably where we've made the most progress.


Although Dad's story is uniquely his own, the older I get, the more I marvel at watching the cycles play out in my family, largely due to Dad.

He was the only son in his family of four kids, and third in birth order. His parents instilled in him a solid work ethic, and he was also gifted with something that's become quite rare these days - common sense.

He knew you had to work hard to get what you wanted and needed in life.

This was one of the first things he worked hard for, and he probably considered it a need at the time.


My Dad made his living with his hands. He was a mason, who created things with his hands out of block and brick. He had his own business. He worked long hours when I was a child, but I remember the times we spent together when he wasn't working.

Quite a bit of it was very close to the place where he lives now - the land of the Burris homeplace in Pope County, Arkansas...the place where his great grandfather carved out both home and business, and where his father was born. It was there that he showed me how to dig earthworms beside his Aunt Emma's chicken coop to use for bait when we fished. He was the one who showed me the low stacked stone walls our ancestors built when clearing the fields for planting.

Dad was nearly 43 years old when he married the love of his life. Together, they have made homes in three places - starting on that land, then moving to Michigan for several years, and coming full circle back to the land.

My folks and I compare notes on our family history. Dad has very matter-of-factly accepted some of the revelations I've made about our family history in the last few years.

He and I both enjoy finding the truth of our history, and recording it so it never has to be secret again.

On this Father's Day, I want Dad to know how much I appreciate the gifts of the love of family and pride of hard work he has given me.

I hope I am honoring him by passing those down.
One of the other Dads in my life is my son.


In the last few years, my son has added two daughters to his family. He is the custodial parent of his oldest daughter.

That blows me away.

My boy has become a man.

I am in awe of how he does it...

And am struck by the similarities in the two Dads - both hard-working fathers, and acutely aware of the importance of family.

My son's own dad died in 2005. They were very close, and my son was devastated. He figured out that it truly does take a village to raise a child, and has embraced his village, which includes his own cousins and their children. All the kids will grow up with rich family connections - a new generation of Burrises with strong family ties.

I'm so proud of him I could bust.
For these very special Dads, I wish for you peace and contentment today.

You've both earned it.

Love y'all...


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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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