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CHATTAHOOCHEE RIVER AT FORT GAINES, GEORGIA
One of the most popular places for early settlers to cross the Chattahoochee River from Georgia into Alabama.
The river was shallow and narrow here. A toll house still stands (slightly visible near the top center of this photo)
where fares were paid before boarding ferries that carried settlers and their belongings across the river.
Our Burnham family from Georgia first settled in Alabama about ten miles from this spot.
I believe they may have crossed the river in this area.



      Our earliest known Burnham ancestors are Benjamin J. Burnham and his wife Ann Howell Harrell Burnham. Most of our family member information was originally compiled by Kathryn Coker Foster and Gwen Burnham Granger years ago. Kathryn was a granddaughter of Benjamin Howell Burnham (named after his grandparents Benjamin and Ann Howell Burnham) and Gwen was a daughter of William Marion Burnham, brother of Benjamin Howell Burnham. Long ago Kathryn's grandfather mentioned that his grandfather Benjamin had a brother named William "Bill" Burnham but she was unable to find anything further on him to my knowledge. Gwen reported that Benjamin was born in Pulaski County, Georgia 1820. Realizing vast internet resources were probably not available to Kathryn and Gwen, I've recently done some research and strongly believe (but unable to positively prove) that our Benjamin descends from William Burnam, Sr., born about 1744 probably in Pasquotank County, NC, or possibly Norfolk County, Virginia. William and his wife Martha settled in the Goshen Swamp area of Duplin County, NC about 1780. Their children included: (1) John Burnham born about 1771, (2) Thomas Burnham born about 1774, (3) William Burnham, Jr. born 1775, (4) Benjamin Burnham born 1778/9, (5) Joel Burnham born 1780, (6) Frederick Burnham born 1785, (7) Elijah Burnam born 1786, (8) Edward Burnham born 1788, (9) James Burnham, (10) Needham Burnham and (11) Elizabeth Burnham. William Burnham, Sr., served as a minuteman in the American Revolution and was a farmer and roadbuilder through the swamps of northeastern Duplin County. He and his family came to Georgia in 1811 and he died in 1821 in Pulaski County, Georgia.

      William Burnham, Sr. and two of his sons, Thomas and Benjamin (numbers 2 and 4 in preceding paragraph) were the only Burnham households found on the 1820 Pulaski County, Georgia census, page 66, therefore if our Benjamin was born 1820 in Pulaski County, Georgia he obviously descends from William. Several of William's eleven children have previously been researched thoroughly, narrowing the possiblities of Benjamin's ancestral line. Records found during my research lead me to believe our Benjamin was a son of Benjamin, 4th child of William. In the two following paragraphs I will attempt to explain my theory, referencing the two Benjamins as Benjamin, Sr. (son of William Burnham, Sr.) and Benjamin, Jr. (our known Benjamin) for identification purposes only, realizing this reference may not be factual.

       Benjamin, Sr. and his brother Elijah both appeared on page 281 of the 1830 Houston County census. Benjamin, Sr.'s household had 4 males and 1 female. Apparently Benjamin, Sr.'s wife had died, the only female (unknown) being in the 10-15 age group, 1 male in age group 50-60 (probably Benjamin, Sr), two unknown males in age groups 20-30 and 40-50, and one male in age group 15-20 whom I believe is our Benjamin. James N. Burnham was fortunately selected to receive land in the 13th district, lot 87 of Houston County, GA (newly-formed county) from the 1821 Georgia Pulaski County Land Lottery. On October 10, 1827, Benjamin, Sr. purchased half of this land (101 acres) from James as recorded in Houston County, GA Deed Book "D", page 132. On January 13, 1838, Benjamin, Sr. sold his land to William Burnham, recorded in Houston County, GA Deed Book "G", page 600, witnessed by Ellis Burnham. Consequently, Benjamin, Sr. may have left Houston County, GA in 1838 or after. After selling his property in Houston County, GA, its my belief that Benjamin, Sr. relocated to Barbour County, Alabama next household to another brother, Edward (see census data below). Edward acquired his Barbour County property in 1837 through a federal land patent, location shown on map at bottom of this page. I do not know James N. Burnham's family connection, but if he participated in the 1821 Pulaski Land Lottery, he's most likely a descendant of William Burnham, Sr. also, possibly child #9 identified in first paragraph.

      The 1840 census did not list individual household members, only the heads of households and age groups for other household members (similarly shown in census charts below). For the 1840 Barbour County, Alabama household of Benjamin Burnham, I believe (1) Benjamin, Sr. is the 60-70 male and is considered head of household, (2) Benjamin, Jr. and wife Ann Howell Harrell Burnham are the male/female in age group 20-30, (3) David Franklin Harrell the male under 5, and (4) possibly Elvey Ann Burnham the female under 5 (one census listed her birth year as 1840). This is the same geographic location they were found ten years later. The preceding information should not be construed as factual but only as my theories based upon research findings. Maybe someone sooner or later will respond to my forum messages with information that can positively prove or disprove my theories. The following information is factual to the best of my knowledge and of our past family researchers.

      Our Benjamin was next found on the 1850 Barbour County census in the same geographic location with household members listed by name; wife Ann, their 4 children, and stepson David Franklin Harrell. Ann Howell was born about 1818 in North Carolina. Her grandson, Benjamin Howell Burnham told that the Howells originally migrated from Wales. Ann and an unknown Harrell gave birth to David Franklin Harrell on December 24, 1833 in Sumter County, Georgia prior to her marriage to Benjamin. Children of Benjamin and Ann were Elvey Ann, Washington, Marion LeGran and Granberry Jackson Burnham, all four born in the 1840's. A family source reported that David Franklin Harrell and his wife helped care for the youngest child Granberry after their mother died, later evidenced by Granberry appearing in their household on the 1860 census, therefore Ann Howell Burnham apparently died during the 1850's. Four other Burnham families were within a few households on the 1850 Barbour County census and I'm convinced they were all close relatives of Benjamin. Census data for these households shown below.

      Benjamin was listed on the 1860 Henry County, Alabama census, Page 007, Woodville Beat, as overseer on the farm of Stephen Canthan with Washington Burnham (Benjamin's oldest son) in the same household as a farm laborer. Marion LeGran was on the 1860 Barbour County census, Page 353, Eastern Division, at age 14 in the household of William C. Espy. The connection between Benjamin and these families, if any, is unknown. David Franklin Harrell was found on the 1860 Barbour County, Alabama census, Page 354, Eastern Division, farmer at age 26, wife Sarah F., son John, and Granberry Burnham, age 11. David's real estate was valued at $1,700 and his personal estate valued at $600. Census data for these households is also shown below.

      Soon after the 1860 census, Benjamin's oldest son Washington, was thrown from a horse and died from a broken neck. When the Civil War came along, Benjamin attempted to enlist in the 6th Alabama Cavalry, but a lieutenant in the unit, Michael Holmes of Henry County, told him he was too old and told him to go home. Benjamin told him he had no home to go to, so Holmes sent him to his home with a letter of introduction to the Holmes family. Benjamin became the overseer on Michael Holmes' plantation during the war. Benjamin was last found on the 1880 census, still overseer on the Holmes Plantation. He is buried at Shorterville Cemetery, Henry County, Alabama, unmarked grave. Quoting from Gordon W. Holmes, Jr., a Holmes family descendant and transcriber of many letters sent home during the Civil War by Michael & Edward Holmes, "Mr. Burnam who is also a family legend . . . became overseer of Mike's plantation ... he made Mike a wealthy man while he was gone."

      Sources for some of the above information are as follows. Benjamin's middle initial "J" was shown on consent for marriage of Granberry to Elisebeth Helton. Kristin Moore, a descendant of David Franklin Harrell, posted a transcription of David's obituary revealing his birthplace as Sumter County, Georgia. Information about the family of William Burnham, Sr. was posted by Mr. Hank Burnham, descendant of William Burnham, Jr. and long time Burnham family researcher.


    Edward Burnam acquired 80 acres of land in 1837 and another 40 acres in 1850 through federal land patents. Using township and range descriptions found on records of the Bureau of Land Management I've plotted the approximate location with a pushpin in the map above. The other two pushpins are approximate locations of land patents acquired by William C. Espy and Michael Holmes. All fell within 2-3 miles of the others along the county line separating Barbour and Henry Counties. This is obviously where our Burnhams originally settled upon arriving in Alabama. Considering the very close proximities of Edward and Benjamin's families for many years, they were most likely closely related.





BURNHAM FAMILY CENSUS RECORDS

1820 Pulaski County GA
(Page 66)
Males Under 10
Males To 16
Males 16-18
Males To 26
Males To 45
Males 45-Up
Females Under 10
Females To 16
Females To 26
Females To 45
Females 45-Up
Burnam, William
0
0
0
0
1
1
0
0
0
0
1
Burnam, Thomas
0
1
0
0
0
1
0
1
1
0
1
Burnam, Benjamin
0
3
0
0
0
1
0
1
0
0
1
NOTE: The 1820 census microfilm was extremely faded, above data interpreted to the best of my ability.
1830 Houston County GA
(Page 281)
Males 5-10
Males 10-15
Males 15-20
Males 20-30
Males 40-50
Males 50-60
Females Under 5
Females 10-15
Females 15-20
Females 20-30
Females 30-40
Females 40-50
Burnam, Benjamin
0
0
1
1
1
1
0
1
0
0
0
0
Burnam, Elijah
1
2
2
1
1
0
0
0
0
0
0
1


1840 Barbour County AL
Males Under 5
Males 5-10
Males 10-15
Males 20-30
Males 30-40
Males 60-70
Females Under 5
Females 10-15
Females 15-20
Females 20-30
Females 30-40
Females 40-50
Burnam, John
0
0
0
1
0
0
0
0
0
1
0
0
Ten Households
Burnam, Edward
0
0
1
1
0
1
0
1
1
0
0
1
Burnam, Benjamin
1
0
0
1
0
1
1
0
0
1
0
0
B. Ballard Household
Burnam, Bryant
0
1
0
0
1
0
2
0
0
0
1
0
Burnam, Joshua
1
1
0
0
1
0
1
0
0
1
0
0


1850 Barbour County AL (Page 111, #59) Age & Gender / Valuation Birthplace
Burnham, Benjamin 30 Male                      $200 Georgia
              Ann 32 female North Carolina
              Elvey A. 10 female Alabama
              Washington  8 male Alabama
              Marion  3 male Alabama
              *Greenberry J. 1 male Alabama
**Franklin, David  12 male Georgia
* Should be Granberry J.
**Should be Harrell, David Franklin
1850 Barbour County AL (Page 112, #65) Age & Gender / Occupation Birthplace
Burnham, John 25 male               Farmer North Carolina
              Elizabeth 20 female South Carolina
              Francis M. 9 male Alabama
              Martha 1 female Alabama

1850 Barbour County AL (Page 112, #68) Age & Gender / Occupation / Valuation Birthplace
Burnham, William 32 male      blacksmith        $200 North Carolina
              Sarah J.  21 female Alabama

1850 Barbour County AL (Page 112, #67) Age & Gender / Occupation / Valuation Birthplace
Burnham, Edward 62 male         farmer        $200. Virginia
              Melinda 55 female North Carolina
              James 18 male North Carolina
             Charlotte 20 female North Carolina

1850 Barbour County AL (Page 112, #71) Age & Gender / Occupation Birthplace
Burnham, Bryant 40 male          farmer North Carolina
              Arpey (?) 44 female North Carolina
              Josiah 16 male North Carolina
              Zilpha 12 female Alabama
              Polly J.  10 female Alabama
              Martha 8 female Alabama
              Blake 6 male Alabama
              Charlotte 4 female Alabama

1860 Henry County AL (Page 7) Age & Gender / Occup. / Real Estate / Personal Estate Birthplace
Canthan, Stephen 58 male    farm labor    $4000  $2500 Georgia
              Ann E. 28 female South Carolina
              Georgie Ann 12 female Alabama
              Martha 6 female Alabama
              Eliza J. 3 female Alabama
              Harriet E. 3/12 female Alabama
Odum, D.D.  24 male      farm laborer South Carolina
Burnham, Washington 15 male      farm laborer Alabama
Smith, J.D. 14 male Alabama
Burnham, Benjamin 48 male       overseer Unknown

1860 Barbour County AL (Page #353, Eastern Div.) Age & Gender / Occup. / Real Estate / Personal Estate Birthplace
Espy, William C.      [Household #597, Family #604] 29 male       farmer       $1600      $2200 Georgia
              Hariet 27 female Alabama
              Elizabeth 3 female Alabama
              Leonora 9/12 female Alabama
Burnham, Maron 14 male Alabama
Griggers, Wm. F. 24 male South Carolina

1860 Barbour County AL (Page #354, Eastern Div.) Age & Gender / Occup. / Real Estate / Personal Estate Birthplace
Harrell, David F.      [Household #610, Family #617] 26 male       farmer       $1700      $600 Georgia
              Sarah F. 19 female Georgia
              John R. 3 male Alabama
*Granberry J. Barnard 11 male Alabama
* Should be Granberry J. Burnham
1870 Henry County AL (Pct 12, HH 19)
Age
Gender
Race
Occupation
Birthplace
Burnam, Ben (Household appears to be on Holmes Farm)
58
M
W
Farmer
Georgia
Roberts, Hariet
60
F
W
At Home
Georgia
Fears, Henry
23
M
W
Farm Laborer
Alabama
Jorden (?), Jane
40
F
W
At Home
South Carolina



BURNHAM FAMILY CHRONOLOGY
1800 - 1880

About 1810-1820
Benjamin Burnham born most likely in Pulaski County, Georgia.

About 1815-1818
Ann Howell born in North Carolina. Parents and siblings unknown.

1833
David Franklin Harrell born to Ann Howell and Unknown Harrell in Sumter County, Georgia.

About 1840-1844
Elvey Ann Burnham born to Benjamin and Ann Howell Burnham in Barbour County, Alabama.

About 1845
Washington Burnham born to Benjamin and Ann Howell Burnham in Barbour County, Alabama.

1846
Marion Legran Burnham born to Benjamin and Ann Howell Burnham on October 22 in Barbour County, Alabama.

1849
Granberry Jackson Burnham born September to Benjamin and Ann Howell Burnham in Barbour County, Alabama.

1850
Benjamin, Ann and above children appear on Barbour County census near 4 other Burnham households.

1851-1860
Ann Howell Burnham is believed to have died, cannot be found again and family is split in 1860.

1856
David Franklin Harrell (age 23) marries Sarah Frances Wilkins on December 10th in Henry County, Alabama.

1860
Burnham family split. Benjamin is overseer on Canthan farm in Henry County, Washington is laborer on same farm.
Marion Legran is on Espy farm in south Barbour County.
I have not yet located Elvey Ann in 1860.
David Franklin Harrell owns farm in south Barbour County with Granberry at age 11 in his household.

1861
Washington Burnham thrown from horse and killed about age 17, soon after 1860 census.
Elizabeth Penelope Harrell born to David Franklin and Sarah Harrell in Coffee County, Alabama.

1861-1865
War Between The States.
Benjamin Burnham becomes overseer on Holmes Plantation.
Soon after war, Marion Legran migrated to Texas.

1866
David Franklin and Sarah Harrell give birth to fourth child after migrating to Texas. They apparently went to Texas about the same time as Marion Legran, possibly travelling together.

1867
Elvey Ann Burnham marries James Irwin Gissendaner on February 21st in Henry County, Alabama.

1869
Marion Legran Burnham marries Frances Jane Cox of Dale County, Alabama in Burkeville, Newton County, Texas.

1871
Granberry Burnham marries Elisebeth Helton on October 19th in Henry County, Alabama. Consent given by Benjamin J. Burnham with his "x" mark.

About 1872
Windham family from Coffee County, Alabama arrive in Texas.

1873
Elisebeth Helton Burnham (Granberry's wife) dies during childbirth.

1874
Granberry Burnham marries Frances Givens on January 1st in Henry County, Alabama.

1880
Benjamin Burnham appears on last census still overseer on the Holmes Plantation in Henry County.
Elvey Ann and Jesse Irwin Gissendaner in Henry County 9 households from Jesse's parents and 25 households from the Holmes Plantation.
Families of Marion Legran Burnham, David Franklin Harrell, John R. Harrell (David's son), and 3 Windham families from Coffee County, Alabama found on Newton County, Texas census.

Soon after the 1880 census, Elizabeth Penelope Harrell married Thomas Jesse Windham in Newton County, Texas. Both the Harrells and Windhams migrated to Texas from Coffee County, Alabama.



Please contact me with any additional information that may be helpful.
~ Jim Adams
Great-great-grandson of Benjamin & Ann Howell Harrell Burnham

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