Gene Hall was my granduncle, the brother of my grandfather Victor Earl Hall. Both are the sons of my eccentric great-grandmother Dovie C McBurnett and her first-of-six-husbands, my great-grandfather William Earl Hall.
William Earl Hall has always been a mystery man. He died when Gene and Victor were young boys and I have found very little documentation about him (1 census entry and the Hall-McBurnett marriage certificate only).
A few days ago, a cousin I met online a couple of years ago sent me a copy of Gene’s VA records. Thanks, Diane!
There is a wealth of information in these documents, but most importantly for me is a one-paragraph mention of William Earl Hall!
Father: Born in Topeka, Kansas, he was killed when patient was eleven or twelve years of age in a train wreck at the age of 34 (1917) while working as a locomotive engineer. He was a Methodist and regular church goer. He was a “red-headed Irishman, always smiling and happy.” Home atmosphere was a cheerful one.
This is a direct account from an immediate relative! Granted, that doesn’t make it gospel. But I had heard the story about the train accident from other, more distant relatives and this comes from William Earl Hall’s oldest son, so for now… I’ll take it!
According to my Dad, his “Cherokee Grammaw”, Dovie C McBurnett, frequently dressed in Native American garb and decorated her house in that fashion, too. Hence his nickname for her. In fact, Dovie was a main incentive for me in beginning my family history research.
For 8 years, I have searched for some factual evidence of her Native American heritage. I have found but 1 indication of this, and that is “circumstantial” at best. Dovie and my great-grandfather were married in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma) in 1906. I do have a copy of that marriage license.
But being wed in Indian Territory does make one an Indian!
So was Dovie truly of Native American descent? Or perhaps her husband William Earl Hall? Dovie seems to have been a rather eccentric character, having married 6 husbands. Perhaps one day she just decided she wanted to be a Cherokee Indian!
I have searched numerous online databases looking for Dovie’s or William’s Indian heritage with no success. Census enumerations, the Dawes Rolls, Cherokee muster rolls… the list goes on and on. Still no definitive proof.
A few days ago, I met a new online McBurnett “cousin” and last night we spoke on the phone. This very nice lady made one comment that perked my ears up! She said my grandfather (Lonzo McBurnett, an older brother of my great-grandmother Dovie McBurnett) would not let my grandmother sign up on the indian rolls because he called it charity and he didn’t need it.
This means that the Native American heritage did come from Dovie’s line! But was it through the McBurnetts or the Browns (my second great-grandmother) or maybe the Jollys (my 3GGM)? At this point, I have no idea.
But I do have a new lead, a new clue to follow!
Since I have not done much research in several months, I have been busy rechecking folks in my tree, looking for anything new since I last examined them.
This evening I was checking back with my great-grandmother, Dovie C McBurnett. I did a general Google search with nothing new showing up. Then I stopped by Ancestry and put her name in the search engine. And what did I find….
Only several NEW photos of Dovie, her parents (my second great-grandparents) and a couple of her brothers!!! I’m so excited!!! I now have a photo of Harrison Wardlow McBurnett and wife Margaret C Brown, my 2 GGP’s, and a photo of Dovie’s brother Wesley Paul McBurnett in his WWI uniform. Especially exciting since Wesley was killed in action in France in October 1918. And there was even a photo of a previously unknown brother, Lonzo McBurnett. Lonzo was born in 1882 and by 1900 apparently was out of Harrison’s household for that year’s census, so I didn’t know he even existed! Wow!
- Harrison Wardlow and Margaret C Brown McBurnett, ca 1910, Admore, OK
- Wesley Paul McBurnett, ca 1916
I also sent a note to the lady that owns this tree and so graciously posted all of these wonderful photos. I have a lot of “Dovie data” that I would be more than happy to share with her, if she is interested!
And here is a new photo of Dovie (left), compared with one of my “old” Dovie photos:
Dovie McBurnett (left), ca 1945
Dovie McBurnett, ca 1948