Monday, September 22, 2014

Sidnah Virgina Burnett - Fifth Child of Alfred and Julia Burnett

Sidnah Virginia Burnett was born in Biloxi, Mississippi and is the fifth child of Alfred and Julia Burnett.  Sidnah’s tombstone lists her birth as 17-Aug-1847 and death certificate lists her birth as 17-Oct-1847. 

Sidnah could have been named after her aunt, Sidnah Sheffield.
Sidnah married Isaac Gilley.  Isaac, 04-Feb-1847 to 30-Dec-1882, is the fifth child of George and Pheriba Gilley. 

They had six children. 

1.    John Alfred “Albert” Gilley (Burnett), 06-Mar-1869 to 1837.  Husband of Rhoda Belle Striplin.

2.    Julia Isabel ”Bel” Gilley, 27-Dec-1870 to 21-Jun-1935.  Wife of John Isaac Hill.

3.    Rosalee “Rosy” Gilley, 02-Mar-1872 to 25-Nov-1958.  Wife of Eugene Graham Hewitt.

4.    Lieudella “Della” Gilley, 27-Feb-1874 to 03-Mar-1968. Wife of Dempsey Perkins.

5.    Ella V. Gilley, 08-May-1875 to 28-Jun-1889. Died at age 14.

6.    Sidnah Eudora “Dora” Gilley, 08-Nov-1877 to 13-May-1963.  Wife of Webb W. Miller. 

Isaac Gilley was born in Alabama and by the time of the Civil War he was residing in Angelina County, Texas.  Isaac was a Civil War Veteran and held the rank of Private in Company B of the 25th regiment of the Texas Cavalry, Confederate Army. 

After the Civil War, Isaac had several run-ins with the law.  In 1865 he wounded a Jim Windham with a double barreled shotgun to which he was indicted for assault with intent to kill.  In 1866, Isaac along with his father George, brother Allen and brother in law Andrew Burris were involved in a shootout at the Angelina County Courthouse in Homer, TX. During this shootout the sheriff and several others were killed.  Isaac’s father, George Gilley was charged with murdering the sheriff.  In 1885 George was tried before a jury and found not guilty. The 1865 indictment for assaulting Jim Windham was finally dropped after Isaac’s death. 

Sidnah and Isaac were married on 02-Jul-1868 and resided in the Reeves area Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana.  The 1870 and 1880 US census lists Isaac’s occupation as a farmer.  It is believed that Isaac was also a Calcasieu Parish tax collector. In December 1882, while on rounds collecting taxes, Isaac was shot and killed by a man named Brewer near Bagdad, Louisiana.  Historical Bagdad is located a few miles north of Westlake along the Calcasieu River. 

After Isaac’s death Sidnah never remarried and raised her family near Reeves, Louisiana.  Once her children married and left home, she lived among her children.  In 1910 she can be found in the home of her daughter “Dora” and son in law Webb Miller near Dry Creek, Louisiana.  

From 1915 to 1921 Sidnah tried multiple times to qualify for a widow’s pension based on Isaac’s Civil War service. The requests were denied on account that Isaac service record showed he was absent without leave and possibly in prison for insubordination. Sidnah tried repeatedly to prove he was in a hospital instead of the reported prison, but her case could not be proven to the pension board. 

By 1920 she was living with her widowed daughter “Bel” Hill in Beaumont, Texas. Sidnah died 18-Jan-1928 in Beaumont, TX.  Sidnah and Isaac are buried in Magnolia Cemetery in Ragley, LA. 

Isaac and Sidnah’s oldest child, John Alfred Gilley, sometimes known as Albert, left Louisiana at about 18 years of age.  He lived in Arkansas and Oklahoma where he changed his last name from Gilley to Burnett.  The descendants of John Alfred Gilley have the last name of Burnett. 

Much of the above information can be found in a book titled “The History of the Gilley Family”.  The book was written by Valma D. Fischer, who is a G Granddaughter of Isaac and Sidnah Gilley.   This book was self-published in 1981 and there were a limited number of copies printed. This book includes charts showing the descendants of George and Pheriba Gilley.  The book also contains many court records from the Angelina County, TX shootout and Sidnah’s application for pension.  For those interested in the Burnett –Gilley connection this is a great reference.  There is a copy of this book at the Southwest Louisiana Genealogical and Historical Library in Lake Charles, LA. 

The following photos of Sidnah and several of her children were furnished by Dan Fischer and Katrina Brown, both descendants of Isaac and Sidnah. The  tombstone photos were taken by Michael Burnett at Magnolia Cemetery, Ragley, Louisiana 29-Mar-2013
Sidnah Virginia Burnett, photo from Dan Fischer.

John Alfred "Albert" Gilley Burnett in middle, photo from Katrina Brown.

Della and Dempsey Perkins, photo from Dan Fischer.

Dora and Webb Miller, photo from Dan Fischer.

Sidnah Virginia Burnett
Isaac Gilley


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