Monday, September 11, 2017

Mammoth Cave Kentucky Burnett Famlies

According to the U.S. Federal census records, Alfred Burnett was born in the state of Kentucky in the year 1812.  Since the federal census is conducted every 10 years, the first census that was held after Alfred’s birth would have been in 1820.

We descendants of Alfred Burnett are strong DNA matches to descendants of a John Burnett born in 1750. You can read more about that by clicking here.   Looking for clues in the 1820 census we find there were several children of John Burnett residing in Grayson County, Kentucky in 1820. The children of John Burnett who resided in Grayson County in 1820 are listed below.
Matthew Burnett
Thomas Burnett
Isaac Burnett
Absalom Burnett
John Jr. (likely resided in Grayson County, but not enumerated)

Below is a 1820 county map of Kentucky.[1]  The blue shaded area is Grayson County, KY.  Oral family history tells Alfred was born near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.  The red oval is the outline of Mammoth Cave. As you can see, in 1820 Mammoth Cave was located partly in Grayson County.  Please note that the county boundaries have changed and today Mammoth Cave is mostly located in Edmonson County. 

1820 Kentucky County Map

So, what does this tell us?  It confirms the Burnett families who match our DNA resided near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky at the time of Alfred Burnett’s birth. 

More research is needed in how these Grayson County Burnett families are related to each other and what line of Burnett’s they are descendants of.  Unfortunately the Grayson County courthouse had a fire  in 1896 which destroyed all records.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Burnett - Gilley Connection, Family History Book

Genealogical research can utilize many forms of evidence; some of these include census records, birth/marriage/death certificates, wills and probate documents.  One method that is sometimes overlooked is family histories penned by a family member.  There is mention of our family in one such family history book written by a descendant of Alfred and Julia Burnett.  The book is titled “History of the Gilley Family” and was written by Valma D. Fischer, a GG grandchild of Alfred and Julia through their daughter Sidnah.  This is a self published book dated January, 1981 and there are multiple copies in the hands of Gilley and Burnett descendants.  There is also a copy located at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library in Lake Charles, LA.

What makes this book so intriguing is the Gilley and Burnett families are closely tied together by marriage.  Three of Alfred and Julia’s children and one grandchild married children of George and Pheriba Gilley.

Sherrod married Mary Gilley.
Sidnah married Isaac Gilley.
Elizabeth married Thomas Gilley.
Granddaughter Sophia married George Gilley.

Why so many marriages between these two families?  The answer is location, location, location.  It is believed the George Gilley homeplace was located near what is now today called Camp Pearl.  Camp Pearl is about 10 miles north of where Alfred Burnett operated a ferry across the Calcasieu River.  It stands to reason the families would be in contact, with the ferry being the means of transportation of the Gilley family to and from Lake Charles.

Below is an excerpt from the book.  The handwritten notes are updates which were made after publication by the author.

History of the Gilley Family, p. 95, by Valma Fischer, 1981, self published

Saturday, August 26, 2017

DNA Matches to Kentucky Burnett Descendants

We now have autosomal DNA samples for at least 24 known descendants of Alfred Burnett and Julia Seaman.  Two of the DNA samples are from great grandchildren and 9 more are from my generation - GG grandchildren.  The remainder of the samples is further removed generations.

Many of these 24 know descendants match well to other Burnett families that trace their roots to Kentucky.  These Kentucky Burnett families are descendants of -

William Burnett
John Burnett
Dammie Burnett
Isaac Burnett
Matthew Burnett
Absalom Burnett

The above are believed children of John Burnett 1750-?, who was married to Mary Morgan.  The trouble is there is little recorded evidence to prove these are children of John Burnett, though many online family trees show this relationship.  In fact, I am in contact with a Kentucky Burnett descendant who has court records that seem to disprove these are John Burnett’s children. The Kentucky Burnett families were not good record keepers; even their trees with the same Burnett ancestors do not match. Nevertheless, our line of Burnett’s match well with the above Kentucky Burnett families.

Recently a court record concerning Matthew Burnett’s estate settlement was found and this document mentioned an Alfred Burnett. I contacted the Hancock County, Kentucky courthouse and they have sent me copies of Matthew Burnett’s estate settlement.  Unfortunately, this record does not list his children.  It does mention Elizabeth “wife of Matthew”.  Also, there is mention of “Note to Alfred Burnett Bal due – is 34.62”.  Actually, it mentions notes due to three others as well, but none of which have the surname Burnett.  I have examined the document there is no mention of any kinship except wife Elizabeth.  This mention of Alfred Burnett does not establish any relationship and sadly cannot be used to prove kinship.

From the DNA samples and the limited information that can be taken from Ancestry DNA, I have charted how our Burnett’s relate to these Kentucky Burnett lines. Below is a heat map chart that I am working on.  This is unpublished, but considered copyright material.  It cannot be copied, published, emailed in any form.

DNA Heat Map - Alfred Burnett and Kentucky Burnett Descendants

The cells in the chart are color coded from red to light green – red being the best match.  The top row (blue) lists the descendants of Alfred Burnett and their relation to Alfred Burnett. The left column (purple) lists the Kentucky Burnett family and their relationship to that family.  The number in the cells represents the amount of shared centimorgans of DNA. The higher the centimorgans, the better the match from the Kentucky Burnett family to our Alfred Burnett family. The GG refers to great grandchild and how many generations removed.

The chart suggests our best DNA matches are to the Matthew, Isaac and Absalom Burnett families.  Perhaps our Alfred is a sibling or son of these three Burnett males? Still, DNA evidence alone is not proof, we must have a paper trail to confirm kinship. 

I feel we are close to solving the ‘where are Alfred’s parents’ mystery, but need to find recorded evidence to go along with our DNA findings.  It is my feeling that there are records in the Grayson, Hancock or Washington County Kentucky courthouses that will confirm Alfred’s parents.  I am currently working with the Nelson County courthouse and will keep you posted to what I dig up.  

Thursday, July 6, 2017

First Confirmed Evidence of Alfred Burnett

The first documented evidence of Alfred Burnett can be found in the 1838 tax roll of Jackson County, Mississippi.1 His state tax was 37 ½ cents. From the US Census records we believe Alfred’s birth year to be 1812, which would make Alfred 26 years old in 1838 and a resident of Jackson County, MS.

1838 Jackson County, MS Tax Roll

1838 Jackson County, MS Tax Roll

Every effort is made to cite my sources and give credit to others that have supplied information or photos for this blog.  If you use photos or information from this blog, including use in your family tree, please consider giving credit to those which have furnished the information or citing the source for the material. Most of the credits or citations can be found in the photo captions or in the footnotes section.

1 "Mississippi, State Archives, Various Records, 1820-1951," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 21 May 2014), Jackson > County tax rolls 1827-1846, Box 16386 > image 107 of 198; Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

James Jefferson Burnett - Homesteader

The Homestead Act of 1862 allowed US citizens to become the owner, free of charge, of 160 acres of US Government land.  To become owner was a three step process; file an application, improve the land and file for a deed or title.  Before applying, the homesteaders were required to live five years on the land, improve the land by establishing a building and grow crops.  My Great grandfather, James Jefferson ‘Jeff” Burnett did just that.

Jeff Burnett filed a homestead claim in 1889, which is recorded in the National Archives, in Washington DC.  There are several interesting documents which were included with the homestead application.  One such document is the “Homestead Proof – Testimony of Claimant” which can be found below.  In this document Jeff Burnett tells that there has been a house located on the land for about 10 years and he has established residence for 8 years.  The testimony goes on to confirm there was a barn and stable, fowl house, smoke house, garden, orchard, fencing and a well.

Although the land was free, there were some filing fees which accounted to $16.54 or about 10 cents per acre.   You can read more about the Jeff Burnett land holdings here;

Homestead Proof – Testimony of Claimant, Land Entry Files, Louisiana, New Orleans Land Office, Homestead Final Certificate # 6,290. 
Every effort is made to cite my sources and give credit to others that have supplied information or photos for this blog.  If you use photos or information from this blog, including use in your family tree, please consider giving credit to those which have furnished the information or citing the source for the material. Most of the credits or citations can be found in the photo captions or in the footnotes section

Saturday, March 4, 2017

New Burnett Genealogy Facebook Group

I have taken some time off of blogging about our Burnett Ancestors.  I plan to resume blogging in the next few months, but in the meantime I wanted to announce we have started a Facebook Group to discuss our Burnett heritage.  The Group is titled “Burnett Family Genealogy, Tracing our Roots from Kentucky to Louisiana”.  This link is an invite to the group,

The goals of the Facebook Group are to inform others about our Burnett family genealogy, locate Kentucky cousins, and determine how the Louisiana Burnett’s are related to the Kentucky Burnett’s.

Please consider joining and participating in the group.  Social Media interaction is a great way to discuss our family roots and reach others who might be interested in our Burnett ancestors.  As well, discovering distant cousins and possibly proving a common ancestor would make participating worthwhile. This group is to discuss the Burnett family genealogy, hopefully locate Burnett cousins in Kentucky and confirm how the Louisiana Burnett’s are related to the Kentucky Burnett’s.This group is to discuss the Burnett family genealogy, hopefully locate Burnett cousins in Kentucky and confirm how the Louisiana Burnett’s are related to the Kentucky Burnett’s. This group is to discuss the Burnett family genealogy, hopefully locate Burnett cousins in Kentucky and confirm how the Louisiana Burnett’s are related to the Kentucky Burnett’s.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Catherine Sheffield's Residence 1819-1828

Catherine Sheffield and Ignatius Grantham were married in 1810. According to court documents, they lived together until 1819 and divorced in 1828.  Where was Catherine residing from 1819 until she married William Seaman in 1828?

The Grantham and Seaman households were enumerated in the 1820 United States Federal Census of Jackson County, Mississippi.  The census shows the Ignatius Grantham’s household had no females that would fit the age or race of Catherine.  In fact, there were no white females of any age in Ignatius’s household enumerated in the 1820 census.  However in the William C. Seaman household, there was counted a free white female less than 10 years of age and another free white female age 26-45. 

The 1820 US census was the fourth census on the United States.   This Wikipedia article gives some insight to the difficulties in using the census as genealogical proof. “Census taking was not yet an exact science. Before 1830, enumerators lacked pre-printed forms, and drew up their own, sometimes resulting in pages without headings, line tallies, or column totals. As a result, census records for many towns before 1830 are idiosyncratic. This is not to suggest that they are less reliable than subsequent censuses, but that they may require more work on the part of the researcher.”[1]

1820 United States Federal Census was conducted on 07-Aug-1820.  The census of Jackson County, Mississippi had this note at the top of the first page.  The number of persons within my division, consisting of Jackson County appears in the Schedule hereto annexed subscribed by me, the twelfth day of December one thousand Eight hundred and twenty. E. Williamson.” [2]

The above note confirms the census was reported on 12-Dec-1820, but the count was supposed to be recorded as of 07-Aug-1820.  Keeping these dates in mind, Catherine would have been 27 years old and would fit within the white female age range that was reported in the Seaman household. The only evidence that Julia was born on 17-Aug-1820 is taken from her obituary.  It is reasonable to assume that the white female under age 10 reported in the Seaman household is the infant Julia.

Even though the official date of the 1820 census was August 07, it is likely that Catherine and Julia were counted in the William Seaman household.  The leads to the question where was Ignatius and Catherine’s son West during this time period?  West was born in 1815, and would have only been 5 years old during the 1820 census.  According to census records, there are no white males of this age in the Grantham or Seaman household.  Perhaps after his parent’s separation he lived with relatives?

There is further proof that Catherine and William were living together (before marriage) during this time period.  I will write about that evidence in another blog.

Below is a recap of the 1820 census.  I have hi-lighted in green where I believe Catherine and Julia were counted. 

1820 US Census, Jackson County, Mississippi

[2] 1820 U S Census; Census Place: Jackson, Mississippi; Page: 44; NARA Roll: M33_58; Image: 62