Friday, August 29, 2014

The Trouble With My Family...........

County or Parish courthouses are a great resource for researching your family history.  Many courthouse archives contain probate, property, marriage and divorce records.  These types of records can be extremely helpful when tracing your genealogy. 

About 1855 our Burnett family migrated from Jackson/Harrison County, Mississippi to Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.
Here’s the problem –

Jackson County, Mississippi – Courthouse burned 1875, all prior records lost.
Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana – Courthouse burned 1910, most prior records lost.

Hancock County, Mississippi – Courthouse burned 1853, all prior records lost.  Hancock was the county to the east of Jackson/Harrison County and could have held useful information.
In the 1830’s our Burnett’s resided in Jackson County, Mississippi.  In 1841 Jackson County was divided and Harrison County was formed.  After the county spit, it was in this newly formed Harrison County where our Burnett’s resided.   Most of the post 1841 Harrison County records are intact, but the Harrison County courthouse can be challenging to deal with unless you do so in person.   

To add to the records loss woes; 1890 US Census – almost all records lost in 1921 Washington D.C. fire.
With this said, it is unlikely that clues to our Burnett ancestry will exist in a courthouse; then again, perhaps in a shoebox in some descendants possession?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Melinda Burnett - Second Child of Alfred and Julia Burnett

Melinda, sometimes spelled Malinda, is the second child of Alfred and Julia Burnett. Melinda was born in Biloxi, Mississippi around 1841 and lived there until about 1855 when her family moved to Lake Charles, Louisiana.

She was likely named after her aunt, Melinda Seaman.
Melinda was married to George W. Reeves (25-Mar-1832 to 21-Feb-1916).  George was the eldest child of Isham Reeves and Nancy Bilbo.  George was born in Calcasieu Parish, LA and was a Civil War Veteran, Minister of the Gospel, Mason and a farmer.  They had two children, both girls.

1.       Nancy, 1867 – unknown.

2.       Jane (Apilony) 1869 – unknown.

From the 1870 and 1880 census records we find the George Reeves family living in close proximity to Melinda’s brother Sherrod and her sister Nancy’s families.  This was in the Barnes Creek region of Old Imperial Calcasieu Parish.

Melinda preceded her husband in death and died sometime between 1880 and 1900.
George is not listed in the 1895 Lake Charles City directory; however the 1900 census finds him living in Lake Charles.   By 1900 George was widowed the two daughters were no longer living in his household.  George is buried at Orange Grove cemetery in Lake Charles.  The gravesite of Melinda is unknown.

George Reeves
There are several inconsistencies in George’s obituary[1].  The marriage year of 1869 could be questioned because the 1870 census indicates they already have a 3 year old daughter.  George’s obituary also lists a surviving daughter as Mrs. Gilmore Harveson.  I can locate a Mr. Gilmore Harveson in Lake Charles during the early 1900’s, but his wife is named Ada.  Ada lists her parents as being born in Ohio.  More research is needed to confirm the connection between George Reeves and Mrs. Harveson.
Succession number 2430 of George Reeves was filed in Calcasieu Parish. Nephew, Virgil Reeves was appointed as administrator of the estate. 

Little else is known about Melinda Burnett.  Maybe a blog reader has some insight into this family?

[1] “George W. Reeves”, Lake Charles American Press, 22-Feb-1916, p. 1. Print

Friday, August 22, 2014

What is "Find A Grave"?

I have recently been asked about the online memorial site called “Find A Grave”. Find A Grave is a free website that’s goal is to document grave sites from around the world and create an online virtual cemetery.  There are currently over 100 million memorials on this website!

On the Find A Grave website you can search memorials by name, date or cemetery.  These memorials and photos are contributed and maintained by network of volunteers.

Many of our deceased Burnett family are included on this site.   For example, Leo Burnett, my grandfather’s memorial can be found by clicking here. From this memorial you can determine his birth date, death date, parents, spouse, and siblings.  Many of these family members’ names are links to their own Find A Grave memorial.

There are several of our Burnett cousins that are active contributors and maintainers on the Find A Grave website.  These cousins, when requested, will add and update memorials.  If you have a Burnett relative that is not included on the Find A Grave site, and would like a memorial added, there are several methods to consider.  One way would be to locate the memorial of their nearest family member.  Then from the bottom left of the webpage click on the “maintained by” or “created by” link to contact the memorial manager to request a memorial be added. Another option would be to set up a free Find A Grave account and add and maintain the memorial yourself.
This virtual cemetery information can be helpful in tracing ones ancestry.  A word of caution – most of the information is correct, but occasionally there is misinformation.  If you find a memorial which you could provide updated information, click on the “edit” tab in the upper right hand corner. 

All in all, Find A Grave is valuable tool and when used with other genealogical documentation can be a great resource in discovering and preserving your family’s history.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Sherrod V. Burnett - Eldest Child of Alfred and Julia Burnett

Sherrod V. Burnett is the eldest child of Alfred and Julia Burnett. He was born March 18, 1839 in or near Biloxi, Mississippi.
The name Sherrod is thought to have originated from a relative of his grandfather William C. Seaman.[1] Recorded documents show the middle name as V., however a middle name of Valesco is often associated with Sherrod.  The name Valesco is of Latin origin and means “to grow strong”.  I have not located a connection to any prior Valesco's within our Burnett ancestry. 

In about 1855 Sherrod moved with his parents and siblings from Mississippi to Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana. 

The 1860 census shows Sherrod living with his parents in Lake Charles and is listed as being a sawmill laborer. 

During the Civil War Sherrod enlisted in the Confederate Army and was a private in  Company K of the Louisiana 10th Infantry Regiment. The Louisiana 10th Infantry saw action in many battles, including Bull Run, Antietam and Gettysburg.  More research is needed to determine if Sherrod was involved in these battles. A Civil War commemorative plaque and concrete marker can be found at the foot of his grave. 

In the 1870 census Sherrod can be found enumerated in the household of Dempsey Iles and was listed as a farm laborer. Dempsey Iles was a rancher and Civil War veteran who lived in what is now Beauregard Parish. 

In 1871 Sherrod married Mary E. Gilley.  Mary E. Gilley was born May 29, 1851 in Alabama and was the eighth child of George Gilley II and Pheriba Davis.  About that same year Sherrod and Mary had their first child Alfred Alexander Burnett.   Together, over a period of 21 years they had 8 children.

 1.  Alfred Alexander, 1871 to 19-Apr-1950. Tombstone says birth of 20-Nov-1870. Husband of Rosalyn Long. Second marriage to Clara Reeves. 

2. Livisa Frances, 01-Sep-1873 to 04-Sep-1943. Wife of Colin G. Long. 

3.  David A., 1875 to unknown. Presumed to have died at a young age. 

4. William Ciscero, 18-Mar-1876 to 10-Feb-1914. Husband of Mattie?  Murdered in Beaumont, TX.[2]

5. Sherrod Allen, 07-Nov-1897 to 10-Jun-1943.  Husband of Marie Hollier. 

6.  Mary Isabelle “Mollie”, 13-Jul-1880 to 24-Mar-1963. Wife of William Rollins. 

7.   Cora A., 30-Mar-1883 to 25-Nov-1962. Wife of James Blanchard.  Second marriage to James Kirby.  Third marriage to Brandon Cruthirds. 

8.  Sidney Ellen, 18-Dec-1892 to 23-Jan-1976. Wife of Cecil Biggert.  Second marriage to Grady Collins.

 From 1870 until sometime after 1900 Sherrod and wife Mary farmed in the Barnes Creek area of Old Imperial Calcasieu Parish. This area is now part of eastern Beauregard Parish and western Allen Parish.  During this time, there are two recorded Land Patents in Sherrod's name.  One tract of land was for 175 acres and the other for 80 acres.[3]  Both parcels of land are located between Ragley and Reeves, Louisiana.  A search of conveyance records at the Beauregard and Allen Parish courthouses could lead to  information to if the land is still in possession of descendants. 

Sometime between 1900 and 1910 Sherrod and Mary moved to Lake Charles.  In the 1910 census Sherrod and wife Mary can be found living in in the same household as their widowed son Alfred A. Burnett and his four children. 

In 1920 census shows Sherrod and Mary living in Ward 3 of Lake Charles and their widowed daughter Mollie and her three children were listed in the same home.   

The 1921 Lake Charles City directory lists Sherrod and Mary as living on Goos Boulevard.  This is consistent with a photograph in possession of Molly Herrin, granddaughter of Mary Isabelle “Mollie” Burnett.  The photograph is of a house with Mollie Burnett Rollins standing in front  The back of the photo reads “Mollie Rollins about 1922 or 23 at Grandmas old place next to 820 Goos Blvd. Lake Charles, LA.
House next door to 820 Goos Bvld.
Photo provided by Molly Herrin.
Sherrod died July 03, 1922 after suffering many years with paralysis.  After his death Mary lived with her children, including a time in Harris County, Texas with daughter Sidney Ellen.  Mary died  May 19, 1932.  

Lake Charles American Press, p. 1, 14-Jul-1922.
Sherrod and Mary are interned in Orange Grove Cemetery in Lake Charles which is now known as Graceland Cemetery.  Buried to the right of Sherrod is his wife Mary.  To his left is his son William C. Burnett's grave.  I have recently visited this cemetery and the graves of Sherrod and Mary have sunken and are in need of repair. 

Sherrod and Mary Burnett's Grave
Photo taken by Michael Burnett 17-May-14.

Sherrod V. Burnett tombstone.
Photo taken by Michael Burnett, 17-May-14.
Mary E. Burnett tombstone.
Photo taken by Michael Burnett, 17-May-14.

Civil War Plaque at foot of Sherrod Burnet grave.
Photo taken by Michael Burnett, 17-May-14.


[1]Susannah Sherrod, mother-in-law of William C. Seaman.
[2]“Lake Charles Man Shot Dead By Relative On Beaumont Street”, Lake Charles Weekly American Press,   13-Feb-1914, Page 8.
     [3] U.S. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office, Accession LA0370_458, Accession 71169

Friday, August 15, 2014

Julia Jane Seaman - my G-G Grandmother

Julia Jane Seaman is my paternal G-G grandmother. She is the daughter of William Christopher Seaman (1796-1844), though we are unsure who her birth mother was. We do know her step mother was Catherine Sheffield. Julia was born in Mississippi and is thought to be the oldest of William Seaman’s nine children.  Little else is known about her personal life other than she was the wife of Alfred Burnett and together they had 10 children.
One interesting fact is that in 1849, Julia purchased, in her own name, 2 forty acre tracts of land near D’Iberville, Mississippi. [1]  These 80 acres of land and another 80 acres owned by husband Alfred, were sold in 1855 for $300.  The 160 acres of land are located near I-10 and Hwy 67 and today would be worth a large sum of money.

Her father, William C. Seaman, had a sister named Julia Jane Ritter Seaman, which is likely the source of her name.

This spring, while researching at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library, I found Julia listed in their obituary index.
Obituary File
This obituary index card referenced an article from the Lake Charles Echo Newspaper. [2] 
Newspaper Obituary
From the obituary we can determine that Julia was born 17-Aug-1820 and died 07-Dec-1880. She died at the home of John R. Morrogh, her son-in-law.  John was married to her daughter Dorinda.  The 1880 US Census shows John Morrogh and family residing in the third ward of Calcasieu Parish, LA, which included the town of Lake Charles.
We have not located a tombstone or cemetery record showing where she is buried.   There are some that suggest Julia is buried in Bilbo cemetery in Lake Charles.  Others feel she could be buried next to her husband in the Lindsey Cemetery in Dry Creek.  When she died in 1880 there were no paved roads or automobiles.  Lindsey Cemetery is over 30 miles as the crow flies from Lake Charles.   Burying her in the same cemetery as Alfred would have meant a several days journey with a dead body. My thoughts are she is buried somewhere in the vicinity of Lake Charles.

[1] U.S. Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office, Patent MS Vol 77 Pg 338, MS Vol77 Pg 384.
[2] “Died”, Lake Charles Echo, 11-Dec-1880, Page 3, from microfilm at Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Alfred Burnett Family

Alfred Burnett and wife Julia Jane Seaman (17-Aug-1820 to 07-Dec-1880), had a large family.  Together, over a period of 26 years they parented 10 children. The first 7 children were born in or near Biloxi, Mississippi.  The last three children were born in Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.

Alfred and Julia are my G-G grandparents and their children would be my Great Grand Aunts and Uncles.  All of the Burnett’s in SW Louisiana should be able to trace their lineage through one of the ten Burnett children. My line is through James Jefferson.


  1. Sherrod V., 18-Mar-1839 to 03-Jul-1922. Husband of Mary Gilley. 

  1. Melinda, 1841 to after 1880. Wife of George Reeves. 

  1. Nancy, 1842 to after 1880. Wife of William Reeves. 

  1. Dorinda, 17-Dec-1845 to 17-May-1913. Wife of John Morrogh. 

  1. Sidnah Virginia, 17-Aug-1847 to 18-Jan, 1928. Death certificate say birth of 17-Oct-1847, tombstone says 17-Aug-1847. Wife of Isaac Gilley. 

  1. William, 1850 to after 1870. Presumed to have died at a young age. 

  1. Loren Elbert, 1853 to 28-Aug-1923. Death certificate birth has birth of 04-Jul-1846, and tombstone lists birth as 04-Jul-1848. However he is not listed in 1850 census and in the 1860 census his age is listed at 7 years old.  Death certificate lists death as 28-Aug-1923, and tombstone has death of 27-Aug-1923. Husband of Margaret Cooper. 

  1. Elizabeth, Jan 1856 to after 1904. Wife of Thomas Gilley. 

  1. Isabel, 1859 to after 1870. Presumed to have died at a young age. 

  1. James Jefferson, 10-Mar-1865 to 25-Feb-1936. Husband of Leona Hagar. 

Sherrod, Sidnah, and Elizabeth married children of George and Pheriba Gilley.  Melinda and Nancy married sons of Isham and Nancy Reeves.  Needless to say there were many double first cousins!

I am missing the middle names of several of the children.  Does anyone have information to share about the missing middle names?

Next – Julia Jane Seaman

Friday, August 8, 2014

We came from Mississippi. Before that – who knows?

I am related to Alfred Burnett though his youngest son James Jefferson Burnett.  The chart below illustrates my paternal line.

This chart was generated by my family tree.

What follows is information about my G-G grandfather Alfred Burnett.  There are few known details about his personal life. We do know from the census and recently located court records, he was a wood cutter, farm laborer, ferry boat operator and a Master Mason.[1]  Much of the information presented below will be expounded upon in future bloggings.

From the age listed in the 1850 and 1860 US census we can deduce Alfred’s birth to be about 1812, however there is much confusion to where he was born. The 1850 census shows Kentucky as the birth place and the 1860 census lists Mississippi.  Alfred’s daughter Sidnah’s death certificate lists the birthplace of her father to be Virginia.  His children Dorinda and Loren’s death certificates list their father’s birthplace to be Mississippi.   Oral family history states he was born near Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.  Perhaps a blog reader has some documentation proving which state he was born?

The earliest mention I can find about Alfred Burnett is in the 1838 Jackson County Mississippi Tax Rolls.[2]  Interesting note, his taxes were 37½ ¢.

 The 26 years between his birth and the 1838 tax record is a gap of concern.  Little to nothing is known of Alfred during this time period.

Important dates
1812 - Birth (tombstone says 1825)

1839 - Son Sherrod born in Mississippi

1840 - US Federal Census, Jackson County, MS (spelled Alfred Burnet)

1850 - US Federal Census, Harrison County, MS (spelled Alford Burnett)

1855 - Sell of land holdings in Mississippi

1856 - Daughter Elizabeth born in Louisiana

1860 - US Federal Census, Calcasieu Parish, LA

1868 - Death, date from tombstone

The last known mention of Alfred, that I have found, is at the Sam Todd Masonic Lodge in Sugartown, Louisiana where he affiliated with in 1867.[3]

Alfred is believed to be buried in Lindsey Cemetery where there is a tombstone with his name engraved on it. Lindsey Cemetery is located in Dry Creek which is a small village in eastern Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. The engraved birth in 1825 is believed to be a mistake, but the death date is realistic. The tombstone appears to be too new to be period and one could speculate it was placed there at a later time.
Photo by Michael Burnett, 2002.

There is a book titled “Reflections: The Lindsey Cemetery” that documents the history of and who is interned in this old cemetery. In this book, there is an interesting excerpt about Alfred Burnett; “When Alfred died, heavy rains had swollen the creeks, making it impossible to take him to Dry Creek Cem., so negroes carried his body on logs across the creek to Lindsey Cem.”[4] 

To be honest, the Burnett’s of the 1800’s were not good record keepers. I do not know of any family Bibles, letters, wills or other non- court family records that exist today.  The lack of recorded history could be attributed to the era in which they lived, migration, and the Civil War.   Possibly, not being able to read or write could have contributed to the absence of family records.

Next – The Alfred Burnett family.

[1] Larry Baily Sr., Secretary of the Sam Todd Lodge #182, personal communication, 02-Nov-2013
[2], Series 1202: County Tax Rolls, 1818-1902, Jackson 1838 Combined, Mississippi State Digital Archives
[3] Larry Baily Sr., Secretary of the Sam Todd Lodge #182, personal communication, 02-Nov-2013,
[4] Juanita Miller Brumley, Reflections: The Lindsey Cemetery, DeRidder, LA, self-published, date unknown,  p. 11-12

Thursday, August 7, 2014

My Fascination with Genealogy - First Blog

Genealogy has fascinated me for many years.  From Sunday school lessons about who begat who, to wondering if we have ‘royal blood’; genealogy is all around us.  Traditionally, genealogical research required a trip to the library. Now, with the advent of the Internet, genealogy research can be carried out without leaving home.  Popular websites such as and have capitalized on this and today, millions of family history records are accessible with just a click of the mouse. With easy access to these historical records, many a novice genealogist has been created – that includes me!

Keep in mind I am not writer, so bear with me as we document our Burnett ancestors.  It is my intent to blog several times a week, though there will be times I might not be able to keep this schedule. I realize that some of the information will be ‘well known’ and other tid-bits might be new to blog readers. Hopefully, the information will be presented in a way that both the novice and expert family researcher will find it interesting.

Let’s begin.  Alfred Burnett – my great-great grandfather.
Most agree that Alfred Burnett was the first Burnett to settle in Old Imperial Calcasieu Parish.  The Burnett family arrived just before the Civil War, and still today has deep roots in SW Louisiana. It is the era prior to the Burnett’s arriving to Calcasieu Parish that less is known about this family.

Do you know how you are related to Alfred Burnett?
Next – the Mississippi connection