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Granddaddy Burris on right

My aunt Wanda sent me a news story about my paternal grandfather, George Washington Burris, Jr. shooting at a bank robber making his getaway in an alley outside the Citizens Bank in Arkadelphia (Clark Co.) AR.

The article was reprinted in the Southern Standard on 27 Feb 1975 under a heading called Long Ago. The subheading for the article was Forty-Two Years Ago, which means my gunslinger Granddad spring into action on 27 Feb 1933.
 photo 27 Feb 1975 Southern Standard.jpg

Citizens Bank Robbed - For the first time in the history of this city, an Arkadelphia bank was robbed in broad daylight, when two men, unmasked, but wearing goggles entered the Citizens National Bank a few minutes before 4:00 o'clock, the closing hour, and locking the four employees and a number of customers in a rear room, closing the front door and pulling down the shades, proceeded to scoop up all available cash, $9,200.

However, the robbers had been seen by entering the bank by two 17-year-old negro boys, Clifton Edmonds and Sandefur Cook. They were standing on the sidewalk in front of the bank and saw one of the men loosen a gun in his pocket as he went in the door. They ran to tell the merchants in adjoining stores and the alarm was spread rapidly. Officers and armed citizens quickly filled the streets and alleys in the vicinity of the bank.

One of the robbers, seeing the crowd gather, made his escape by a side door, while the other remained, sacking up the money. As the latter went out of the building into the alley, turning at the rear of the building to another alley, he was met by shots by George Burris, assistant postmaster, and was driven back into the alley.

When he attempted to fight his way out, he was met by shots by Harris Mackey and other citizens who were firing from the alley. All shots went wild but forced the robber to seek shelter in the rear of the Pink Tea Grocery store, where he was later captured by Ed Fortson who had entered the store from the front. The man, who gave his name as Clifford Massey, ex-convict and former Little Rock big "shot" botlegger,
(sic) was placed in jail.

Search revealed two sacks filled with money crammed into a ventilator hole in the ground back of the Pink Tea Grocery, and after a check-up the bank officials reported that every cent of the money had been recovered.

The other robber also caused great excitement but made his get-away.

Maybe that gun on his hip in that undated photo was no joke...
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Burris clan in Russellville, Pope Co., AR, circa 1920/1921

There's a wall of photographs over my bed. I call it my dead relatives gallery, and I'm not really joking, although some of my family and friends laugh nervously when I say it.

I'm using this journal to share information I have acquired over the past several years for surnames in my family tree. The journal is "tag intensive" to make it easier to locate information and photos about specific surnames. (Tags list is in the left sidebar of the journal.)

They say you can choose your friends, but not your family. Personally, I find my family fascinating, and even more so the older I get. Sure, we have our share of archetypes - shrill, bossy women...strong "silent type" men...and the requisite number of "crazies." But hey, this is the deep South, and as Julia Sugarbaker said in Designing Women:

"...we're proud of our crazy people. We don't hide them up in the attic. We bring 'em right down to the living room and show 'em off. one in the South ever asks if you have crazy people in your family. They just ask what side they're on." Like Julia, mine are on both sides.

Primary surnames researched include Ashmore, Balding, Burris, Callaway, Chapin, Darter, Duvall, Grooms, Harkey, Hayslip, Herrington, Hill, Holder, McBrayer, Meek, Parrish, Pettit, Shinn, Wharton, Williams.

All comments are welcome, including anonymous comments. You do not have to be a Dreamwidth member to comment, and may use Open ID, i.e., Google, WordPress, etc., to comment.

ETA: Most of the photos you will find in this journal were taken over 100 years ago. Regardless of their age, these photos were falling out of albums, or lying loose among family papers and I have scanned them to preserve them for posterity. Photos of gravestones appearing in this journal were taken by me.

I said all that to say this - if any of these photos are of your family members, just right click and save them to your computer. No one associated with this journal is going to chase you down to try and prosecute you for copyright infringement, as long as you don't claim you took the photo.

© Dee Burris Blakley, 2010-2017. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Dee Burris Blakley with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Email me at sharpchick13 at hotmail dot com.
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My mother and father married on 19 May 1956.

These photos were taken in the home of my maternal grandparents, Joe Duffie Williams and Doris Geneva Balding.



 photo Mom.jpg
Judith Ann Williams, 1937-2004

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 photo cake.jpg

 photo MomandDad.jpg

I cropped this one. It shows a happy young couple, envisioning a wonderful life together.
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Sadly, that wonderful life did not materialize in the 23 years of their marriage, although there certainly were happy moments.

That, however, as well as my complex relationship with my parents - both highly complex people - is a subject for future posts.
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For most of my younger life, my dad owned his own business. He was a masonry contractor here in Arkansas - mostly commercial construction.

I got this photo yesterday in my email.

I had never seen it before.

Photo taken September 1958

I had no idea he had the same type of business when he and my mom lived in Florida, where I and my middle sister were born.

That's my 22 year old dad in the driver's seat. The photo was taken in 1958, the same year I was born.

Here's that street address today.


Dad will be 76 years old tomorrow.

Happy birthday, Dad.

I love you.

This is a Sepia Saturday post. Head over there for more interesting old photos and postcards.
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I have a fair number of photos of my family decked out in their hats.

I even have an ancestress who made them.

The millinery shop of my g-g-grandmother, Mary Emily Conner, in Grenada Co., MS, about 1870-1875.


My grand-aunts, Ocie (left) and Arkie Burris, photo about 1909.


My grandfather, his brother and their double cousins, Elbert and Earl. Photo about 1905.

Left to right - Elbert Burris, Homer and George Burris,Jr. (brothers) and Earl Burris (brother of Elbert)

This is a Sepia Saturday post. Head over there for more cool old photos and postcards.
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Yes, I know it's not Thursday, but I am planning go with it, please...

I went to my dad's house last week, and took my aunt (his "big" sister) along for the ride.

Along the way, I asked her how she met her husband, and got a new little tidbit of information for the family archives.

Went graving at St. Joe Cemetery, which I refer to as the Burris burying ground. Found Aunt Margaret Jane Burris Moore's stone and photographed it.

After lunch at Dad's, we wandered downstairs and I spied a couple of photos I didn't have in our electronic archives.

A photo of my step-mom's dad in 1956 with his dog, Lonesome.
Paul Pettit, with Lonesome

There was one of Aunt Emma, and her husband, Tom Crites, taken about 1935. They don't look 50 years old to me.
Dora Emma Burris and Walter Thomas "Tommy" Crites

I asked my step-mom to scan and email the pics.

Got them today.
And a bonus.

When I called to thank her, dad answered the phone. I asked him about this last one, which is a photo of my dear step-mom on her 60th birthday.

He said he had been out and about and just ran by a store that made birthday cakes.

When he got it home, my step-mom told him it was the first birthday cake she ever had.


So this one is precious to all of us...
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This one on the occasion of the 50th wedding anniversary of George W Burris, Sr., and Mary Mathilda Wharton - so that makes it on or around 7 Oct 1927.

This is another one where they left the spouses of their offspring out of the photo. (Did you have to pay by the person back then?)


Standing, left to right:
Richard Benjamin Burris, Ernest Arthur Burris, Dora Emma Burris Crites, William Homer Burris, George W Burris, Jr., and Ottis Gileston Burris.
Seated were the honored couple.

Missing was Walter Monroe Burris.

They were standing in birth order. Ott took his hat off, like a gentleman should.

Someone must have been very Type A - like me.

Now I know where I get it.
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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.
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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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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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Left to right: George Washington Burris, Jr.; his brother, Homer Burris; his cousin, Lee Jones; and his father, George Washington Burris, Sr., seated. [Oops, looks like Great Granddaddy got lopped off due to it is, smaller.]


Yeah, the Post Office figured largely in my family's lives...

Get a load of the dust in there...
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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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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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You wanted to know what I looked like in high school...

Here's my senior class picture...

And I am gonna upload a bunch of these for the Parkview High School Class of 1977 to Ancestry...

Probably get egged at the 40th reunion...

BTW, I still wear my hair like that - just has a lot of gray now.
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I love this photo.

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

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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I went there in search of the grave of Saba Ann Burris Keeton, daughter of John Burris and Cynthia Ann Ashmore.

While I was walking the cemetery, I had to take some other photos.




Those stones were in the older part of this still active cemetery. So I figured Saba's stone would be there. She died on 13 Mar 1912.

It was - although it took me a few moments to read the inscription on the deteriorating limestone.

Limestone was a really popular stone for gravestones in Arkansas at one time. I imagine a lot of that had to do with how clean and pure a newly carved limestone gravestone looks.

Not so much after 99 years...


I got bonus with this one.

Saba's daughter, Florence Ellen Keeton Ray, is buried there also, and her information was on the stone as well, under Saba's.

Who apparently was called Anna.

So I learned quite a few things this trip.

But still do not know if the townfolk in Ola unearthed the time capsule in 1980.

Although they did memorialize it.

In the cemetery.



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Dee Burris Blakley

August 2017

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