Notes from the past…


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Monday Madness: Will the real James McBurnett please stand up!

Yesterday I posted about the many personas of James McBurnett. At least 2 and possibly 3 James McBurnetts existed in Carroll County, Georgia in the mid 1800’s. Which one is my true second great-granduncle?

Let’s examine the data that I have to this point:

The 1850 Federal Census for the Nicholas McBurnett family of Carroll County, Georgia shows James, age 18, as the second child of Nicholas and Lucinda McBurnett. That would put his birth date as ca 1832. (Before you start yelling, I know. The census can be notoriously inaccurate. I take that into consideration throughout my research.)

By the 1860 census, James is no longer in the Nicholas McBurnett household. Nicholas is found on Page 11, 9th District, Carroll County, GA. There are 3 James McBurnetts in the 1860 Carroll County, GA census. One is James McBurnett (family # 118) on page 17, District 9, Carroll County, GA. Is he my James? The next household, family #119, is 80-year-old Nancy McBurnett, the widowed mother of Nicholas McBurnett. Not a guarantee, but a pretty good bet that this James McBurnett is the grandson of Nancy and the son of Nicholas McBurnett. James is now married to Lydia E and has 3 children, the oldest is age 7. That makes the marriage ca 1852. Again, not a guarantee, but a fair bet.

So I searched for a marriage record for James McBurnett, ca 1852. In Georgia Marriages, 1699-1944 at Ancestry, I found a transcribed record (not the original document image) for James McBurnett and Elinda Platt for 21 Dec 1851 in Carroll County, Georgia. Elinda? Lydia? Close, maybe a nickname or maybe the transcribed record is spelled incorrectly or maybe the census emunerator got it wrong. I’ll go with it for now. In successive census years, she is Lydia E (1870), Liddie  (1870) and Liddy E (1880). By the 1900 census, James is a widower.

Next step is the Civil War. I had already found the Civil War service records for Nicholas McBurnett’s sons (and James’ younger brothers) Thomas and Joshua McBurnett. Both joined up with Co B of Cobb’s Legion on 30 Jul 1861 at Bowden (Carroll County), GA. Thomas was killed 6 Aug 1862 and Joshua 30 Jul 1863. Nicholas had 2 other sons of military age. Nicholas, Jr was 15 in 1860, apparently too young and didn’t fight. At least I haven’t found any records for him, yet. And James was 30 years old in 1860, putting his date of birth ca 1830.

Here is where things get fuzzy. I found 2 sets of military records for James McBurnett of Carroll County, GA. Both men served with Co H of the 41st Georgia Infantry, joining up in March 1862. I have the original images from Footnote.com for both men. Both were captured at Vicksburg on 4 Jul 1863. Or were they? Two pages of Roll of Prisoners of War show no. 128 as James McBurnett, the last person on that page. This is listed at Ancestry as a separate document (and separate person) from the next page, where James McBurnett, same military unit, is shown as no. 128 and the first person at the top of the next page. Coincidence, or the same man listed twice? Looks to me like the same guy got double-billing!

Back to the two sets of service records. There are documents for a James McBurnett and a James M. McBurnett. Nowhere in the census is my James enumerated as James M. So 2 different guys? Maybe not. I have seen several times throughout all of my McBurnett research where the surname McBurnett is misspelled as Burnett. So James M McBurnett could be James McBurnett. The Mc just got separated into a separate initial M. Makes sense so far. A third James, this time James C, is also found among the documents. This is apparently the same James who is married to Permilia, according to successive census entries for James & Permilia. Confused yet?

One more little cryptic piece. A military document listed under James M has the following hand-written comment: “McBurnett, James M… cards filed under McBurnett, James C”.

The final piece of evidence is this: The two James McBurnetts of Co H, 41st Georgia Infantry who were captured at Vicksburg. I have two Oaths of Allegiance with 2 distinctly different signatures:

Page 7

Page 9

Ok, here’s my conclusion, for what it’s worth. James C is a separate guy and  James (no middle initial)  and James M are one in the same and is/are my James McBurnett.

In the 1900 and 1910 censuses, James McBurnett is living in the households of sons Charles and James B, respectively. Why?

Maybe these Confederate Indigent Pension documents, found at Ancestry answer that question. In a total of 19 documents, nowhere is James’ name written as anything but James McBurnett (no middle initial), as are all of his census entries. Simply no middle initial, period.

These documents give the following information about James McBurnett:

  • served 3 yrs with Co H, 41st Georgia Infantry
  • born 9 Dec 1829 in Haralson Co, GA
  • he suffers from enlargement of the spermatic cord, piles (hemorrhoids), loss of hearing and blindness
  • one of his physicians of record was Dr T J Johns, who just happened to be married to James’ daughter Mary McBurnett
  • a medical bill submitted for payment by James’ estate after his death states: “For medical services rendered, Jas McBurnett, in illness, nature of which inflammation of the bladder & old age and just worn out
  • died in Haralson County, Georgia on 3 Mar 1914
  • he was on the Indigent Pension Roll of Haralson County at the time of his death, receiving $60/mo

The only problem with the pension documents is that Carroll County is never mentioned. Nor are any family members, other than son-in-law Dr Johns. He was, however living with son James in Haralson County in 1910, 4 years prior to his death.

Oh, yeah… the death certificate for Mary MacBurnett Johns, James’ daughter and the wife of Dr. T J Johns (from the pension file) lists her father as James M McBurnett and he mother as Ellen Platt (or Plott).

Also, James never signed any of the pension documents, only his mark “x”. Maybe because he was blind, as previously documented. At any rate , no signature to compare with the Oath of Allegience document.

A bit about Carroll County, Georgia from the New Georgia Encyclopedia: “Haralson County, the state’s 113th county, is located in west central Georgia, on the border with Alabama, and covers 282 square miles. Created in 1856 from parts of Carroll and Polk counties, it was named after Hugh A. Haralson, a U.S. congressman and state legislator.” So James McBurnett did live in Haralson County all of his life, as stated in his pension papers. It was just known as Carroll County for part of that time. :)

So, what’s the final conclusion? Does all of this evidence point to this James McBurnett as my second great-granduncle, the son of my third great-grandfather Nicholas McBurnett and and the oldest brother of my second great-grandfather Harrison Wardlow McBurnett? A preponderance of evidence says “yes”.

What do you think?