Thursday, January 17, 2013

George Washington Burnes & Sarah Walker Burnes' 50th Wedding Anniversary

The Shelby Democrat
Thursday, November 20, 1879
How Mr. & Mrs. Washington Burns Celebrated
The Fiftieth Anniversary Of Their Marriage
The grandest event that ever occurred in Hawcreek township, Bartholomew county, the fiftieth anniversary of the married life of Mr. & Mrs. Washington Burns. At 9 o'clock a.m., the guests began to arrive. Carriage after carriage came laden with the old pioneers, their sons and daughters, all intent on honoring the aged couple, at whose residence they were assembling for a day of recreation, amusement and enjoyment. Noon found about five hundred guests assembled to pay their respects to Mr. & Mrs. Burns. Among those present I saw Mr. Thomas Essex, I. A. Vogler and Mrs. Fannie Hauser, of Columbus; Mr. Ben Jones and lady and David Lancaster, of Shelbyville; Mr. John Nading and lady, Mrs. Matilda Walker and John Walker of Flatrock Station; Mr. Thomas Smiley and lady, of Rockcreek township; W. H. Dye and lady, Carney's Station; Hon S. D. Spellman and lady, D. C. Dodds and lady, John Conger and lady, Robert Titus and lady and L. E. Nelson, of Norristown; Mr. Aaron Essex and lady, Flatrock township; Rev. F. R. Holland, Rev. E. Regeness, Dr. S. Stapp and lady, Dr. J. K. Righter, L. J. Rominger and lady, Edward Fishel and lady and L. E. Hege, of Hope; Mr. George Fry and lady, Rev. John Keeling and lady, Solomon Lambert and daughter, Adam Fishel and lady, Robert Jones and lady, William Powell and lady, Charles Rominger, Sr. and lady, John Rominger and lady, Lewis Essex and lady, Isaiah Carter, John Droneberger, Thomas Reed, Charles Brunner and lady, of Hawcreek township, and a host of others too numerous to mention. I have only mentioned some of the oldest in attendance.

A bountiful repast was spread. Mr. Burns had prepared a whole beef, sixty loaves of bread, and turkeys and chickens without number, and an immense number of cakes, pies, potatoes, and all the other delicacies of the seasons. Mr. J. Schaub, of Hope photographed the assembled multitude, at the conclusion of which a table- one hundred and twenty-three feet long was filled with guests ready to discuss the rich viands.
We must not omit to mention the Hope Coronet Band, and were composed of the following persons: George Hartsell, leader, E. T. Potter, George Kemp, Julius Fishel, M. Hartsell, Charles Hartsell, Charles Cook, Irving Rominger, William Styers, Willie Hartsell, Leona Snyder and George Burns. Mr. Burns was the recipient of the following presents: A gold headed cane with the name of Mr. Burns engraved thereon, as well as the doner, Mr. John Nading, five dollars in gold by L. A. Vogler; one dollar in gold by William & Eliza Powell, who have been married 31 years; three dollars in gold by Adam & Eliza Fishel, married 27 years; Mr. Fishel is 61 years old and Mrs. Fishel is 66 years old; ; one dollar in gold by Ben Jones and lady; one dollar in gold by Joseph Holder; two dollars and fifty cents in gold by Thomas Powell; one dollar in gold by Lewis Essex and wife, married 45 years, Mr. Essex is about 67 and Mrs. Essex is 68; two dollars in gold by Solomon Lambert, aged 62; one dollar in gold by L. J. Rominger and lady, married 40 years.
One pair of gold rimmed spectacles by the following named persons: George Fry, Charles Brunner, George Haas, C. B. Woehler, Charles Beitrick, J. A. Miller, Charles Neighley, Dr. J. K. Righter, Christian Baner, Will Marlin, E. A. Jones, Adam Fox, Lewis Dillman and Dr. Stapp; one dollar in silver by George Burns and lady; one silver watch by W. H. Conner and wife.

Mrs. Sarah Burns was the recipient of the following presents: One pair of gold rimmed spectacles by the following persons, jointly: Mrs. Clara Schaub, Dr. S. Stapp, Mrs. Lucinda Glidewell, Robert Jones, B. A. Lewis, Hetty Marlin, Sophia Kurtz, Rebecca Rominger and Malinda Essex; one gold ring by Mrs. Rose Vogler, Mrs. Fanny Hauser, Miss Sarah Bauchman and Mr. Mathias Nauman; one dollar in gold by Elizabeth Powell; one dollar in gold by Mrs. Ben Jones; two dollars and fifty cents in gold by Thomas Smiley; one dollar in silver by Mrs. Camilla Maze; one dollar in silver by George Burns and wife; one shilling in silver by W. H. Conner and wife. There were present Thomas Moore, married 36 years; Mr. J. T. Higgins, 75 years old. The oldest persons present was Isaiah Carter and Joseph Holder. Mr. Burns will be seventy-five years old next January; came from Harrison county, Kentucky in the fall of the year 1820 and landed at Spring Hill, in what is now Decatur county, and slept in a shanty on a sheep skin during the winter among the wild beasts then common all over Indiana. When moving from Kentucky Mr. Burns' father hired a gentleman to move his household goods to this State, which he did on horseback, the rickety vehicle having broken down the second day out. Mr. Burns' father, mother, brothers and sisters footing it all the way from Kentucky to Indiana. Mrs. Burns is now in her 70th year; born in Clarke county, Indiana, whose father settled there among the Indians, and therefore Mrs. Burns knows about the hardships of pioneer life in Indiana. Mr. Washington Burns and Mrs. Sarah Walker were united in marriage in Shelby county, Indiana, this State. The ceremony was performed by Samuel Drake, November 5, 1829. Together they have moved on through these fifty years, settling down in the primeval forest soon after their marriage on the present homestead.

 Submitted by Barb Huff


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Tribute to William Emry Burnes

My Grandfather, William Emry Burnes was an incredible man! A World War I Navy Hero, The city Sheriff,  a Free Mason, a violinist, a successful Business Owner, a Deep Sea Fisherman, an Honest man, Hard working & intelligent.

He was a young man who had carried the heavy load of his family through the death of his father during the time of the Great Depression.  He was the oldest of 8 children, and without hesitation,  he took on the responsibility to support his mother, brothers and sisters and their spouses through the painful years of the depression.  A second cousin confirmed this, stating “he even made sure his sisters and sister in laws had beautiful hats and shoes to wear.” At the age of 37, when all of his siblings were able to make it on their own, he married his first wife, Kathryn Fleig. The short marriage of 3 years ended when he noted in the divorce papers that he stayed faithful for the space of 3 years awaiting her return. The papers also stated this small but very important detail "no children were born to this marriage". For unknown reasons, she had left him and never came back. Heartbroken by this tragedy he removed himself from the "normal" way life should be, and focused on living an honest life as the local town Sheriff and Business Owner. It was eleven years later that he would meet Ruth Imogene Adams in Batavia, Iowa. He was 49 years old, she was 18, the perfect match separated by 31 years. They married a few months later and set off to start their lives far from home; in Napa, California. They had two children together, one son (my father) and a baby girl who died just a few hours after she was born. They lived a happy life together for 12 years, until his death in 1956. This was not the typical story for most of your grandparents, but this was mine, and one that I am very proud of.

The passion I have for doing genealogy is very personal to me. It defines the line between the truth and the unknown. It gives me hope, it gives me knowledge, but mostly it gives me the opportunity to link our ancestors together as one family. We live in a day in age, where we can learn the truth of our ancestors from many genealogical websites like;
Ancestry, Family Search, Findagrave, USGenweb, Google and so many more. My newly discovered lineage has impacted the way I view myself and every living and non living person. I know our loved ones who have passed on, are still here, just unseen to our earthly eyes. We can feel them close when we are in tune to them. We all have ancestors cheering for us, helping us daily, and strengthening us as we bear the burdens of this life. They have paved that rocky road so we can pay it back to them by keeping them alive, in us, and staying true to our family name and heritage.

A Tribute to William Emry Burnes:

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

George Washington Burnes & Sarah Walker Burnes Portraits

Okay, I can't bottle my excitement any longer. Portraits DO exist, and my 6 year search is over. Presenting... George Washington BURNES, & Sarah Walker BURNES my Great, Great, Great Grandparents. 13 children, married 55 years, Christian, 700 acre farm, Hope Indiana, Norristown Cemetery. A HUGE Thank you for this photo goes to Gary Ziegler, my 4th cousin from Indiana!  It's so great to finally see their faces 6 years after I first discovered them. Thanks to facebook and the internet, my distant cousins are finding each other and communicating. GENEALOGY IS TRULY AMAZING!!!

There's finally a face to his name, George Washington Burnes my GGG-Grandfather

"Connect The Dots" -Sarah

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Power of Facebook. Guess Who I found?

Facebook isn't just for Social Networking! In fact, this powerful platform with more than 900 million users has helped me to connect with many people, including distant cousins. Yes, Facebook is awesome for more than one reason!!

As I began on my family history adventure, I was learning more about my heritage than I could ever imagine. After only one year of extensive research, I traced my lineage back 7 generations, which was quite the conquest, considering that I didn't know my paternal grandfather (father's, father), or anything about him. After discovering that my Great, Great, Great Grandparents, George Washington Burnes & Sarah Walker Burnes had settled in Hope, Indiana I was anxious to get out there. So, I booked a flight to Indianapolis, Indiana and left on May 18, 2007. After a successful trip of meeting family and transcribing headstones, my knowledge of my heritage had increased, and I felt closer to my ancestors.

Many of siblings have joined Facebook, but a few have not embraced the Facebook phenomenon. So I did a search for my brother JAMES BURNES, and the first person to show up was someone who resembled my brother, with the same name and spelling, but lived over 2,000 miles away; in Indianapolis, Indiana. The city he lived in was a clue that we could be related, so I wrote him a message and guess what I found out?

Here's the screenshot from our first conversation on Facebook:

As you can see, from our conversation above, we discovered we are 5th cousins, which means we share the same Great, Great, Great Grandfather; George Washington Burnes. From our connection, we have acquired many photographs and details about our ancestors that we never knew existed. More importantly, we have "CONNECTED THE DOTS" and our family continues to grow.

Give it a try!!
Start searching for distant cousins on Facebook!!

Find more BURNES info at

Monday, November 5, 2012

Original Fishing License of William & Ruth Burnes

I found a TREASURE!! In my home, I have my grandpa's old tackle box with old hooks, bobbins and weights, but I had no idea there was something more valuable inside; their original fishing license. This very small piece of paper that was folded inside a 1"x 2" fishing tag contained more information than I could imagine. I had no idea my grandpa was only 5'7"; crazy! Here's the copy of the original fishing license and tags:

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Why President George Washington didn't like David Burnes

A very fortunate man was David Burns, another of the original land-holders. His property was situated largely in what is now the fashionable northwest quarter of the city. Burns—" crusty Davie Burns," as he was called—was a very bigoted, choleric Scotchman; fond of controversy, and never known to agree with anyone in the slightest particular. He lived in a rude cottage near the river, and cultivated a large plantation extending over the spot where the White House now stands. The demand for his land made him very wealthy, and his only child, Marcia Burns, was known in all the country around as " the beautiful heiress of Washington." For some time Burns was opposed to the projected transfer of land to the government, and the President and the commissioners had several conferences with him in his cottage to explain the advantages of the plan. On one of these occasions, so the tradition runs, the testy old planter answered one of Washington's arguments by this outburst: " I suppose, Mr. Washington, you think people are going to take every grist from you as pure grain; but what would you have been if you hadn't married the rich widow Custis I" The usually sedate Washington at this audacious remark is said to have actually lost his temper, and left the house in indignation. He afterward spoke of the impertinent Scotchman as that obstinate Mr. Burns," and would never meet him again.

Sources courtesy of

David Burnes' written letter to President George Washington - Goose Creek 26 Feb 1791

Goose Creek 26 Feb 1791
To President Washington,

I presume to address you with great deference on a subject in which I think my own character and reputation and interest involved. Reports have been circulated here that some designing speculative men have been making you offers for the property which I among others gave up to you on certain conditions stipulated in a paper which we all signed giving you the power to make any advantage therefrom towards erecting the Federal City and I am the more induced to believe that speculation is in view from an offer which I have lately had for a further part of my property on the specious pretext that it will be necessary to give it up to complete your designs should you fix on the ground we have already offered you for the purposes aforesaid. To convince you that I do not withhold that farther part of my property from your application of it to the uses designed I am willing if it is your desire to add a further quantity of my land not exceeding 79 acres at any price not under 15 pounds per acre that you may please to nominate or I will agree to take every third lot of the said for the percent (?) of ground.

David Burnes 

Photo Credit: Barb Price - Genealogist - 8th cousin to Sarah Burnes Heiner
Research credit goes to Barb Price and her incredible discoveries.

Note From Barb Price:

This letter to the President was amongst the papers in the Van Ness-Phillips Collection.   I was not aware of this Collection until I stumbled upon an article written by Bob Arnebeck, he was in the midst of writing a book about the building of the Federal City and he had come across them.   The Collection totals 93 boxes, of which I was only able to search through the first 3, that took me 3 days!   I will have to go back to NY and search through the rest, eh?

David Burnes and President George Washington and the new Capitol City in Washington DC - How it all Started

Difficult Days in a City's Beginning
Carving Out the Capital Put Landowners in a Troublesome Spot
By Linda Wheeler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 28, 2000; Page T03

David Burnes, a veteran of the Revolutionary War who had willingly sold much of his land to the federal government for the new capital, prided himself on being a good citizen. So he was amazed when he was stopped from building a simple log cabin for his family on land he owned in the new District of Columbia.
"Our [approval] is necessary for the erection of any temporary building in the City of Washington," three appointed commissioners, the capital's very first bureaucrats, wrote him Jan. 20, 1792. "We yesterday saw one carrying on, avowedly under your authority, in which we were not consulted, and which we do not approve of, and to prevent unnecessary expense and trouble to you, we thus notify you of our sentiments."
Burnes, who had owned most of what is now downtown Washington, was outraged. A lawyer and third-generation American, he fired off letters to President George Washington, who refused to get involved, and to the commissioners, whom he later characterized as having "cringing meanness."
Burnes and others had sold their land to the federal government in 1791 in a complicated plan that was supposed to lead to riches for the sellers and a shiny new capital city for the government. President Washington himself had struck the deal.
The confrontation over the log cabin was just the beginning for Burnes, who spent the remaining seven years of his life battling the commissioners at every turn.
He wasn't the only unhappy resident of the new federal city.
Samuel Davidson was threatened with arrest by the same commissioners when he tried to erect an outhouse on land slated for use as a future street. They went after him the very day he began to dig the new privy near his home.

Today's Washington, with its broad avenues, sweeping Mall and magnificent buildings, reveals little of its rough beginnings -- when the nation's capital was carved out of a forested landscape dotted with small farms. Two ports -- Georgetown and Alexandria -- were purposely included in the 10-square-mile federal enclave, but the new city took shape in the undeveloped area.

Residents of the future District of Columbia, with the exception of those in Georgetown, didn't lobby for the privilege of hosting Congress and the president as had Philadelphia, New York and Baltimore. Congress struggled for years before making a final decision. In 1790, it passed the Residence Act, making Philadelphia the temporary capital for 10 years and mandating a move to the new, and then-unknown, capital in 1800.
Congress did not pick the site. President Washington was appointed to explore and evaluate a 110-mile stretch of the Potomac River. He visited Maryland's Hagerstown, Williamsport and Sharpsburg, asking for detailed real estate maps and a price for the land. At each stop, officials were left with the impression that their town was a strong candidate.

In Georgetown, then a part of Maryland, Washington was given a map and an offer to sell some land at $40 an acre. In December 1790, the Maryland government sweetened the deal by promising condemnation proceedings against any owners who refused to sell.

On Jan. 22, 1791, Washington named the three commissioners who would manage the acquisition and eventual sale of lots in the new capital. Two days later, Washington told Congress the capital would be built between Georgetown and the Eastern Branch, now the Anacostia River.
However, the president wanted to keep his choice secret from the local residents, fearing a jump in land prices if the news got out. In particular, he was worried about Burnes because his land was in the middle of the area that would be the capital.

Burnes was known as a shrewd businessman who had built up his family's holdings, ran a profitable farm and was a stickler about maintaining his boundaries. In 1784, he had evicted Dick Goosequill from what is now Third Street NW at the foot of Capitol Hill, calling him an illegal squatter.
In 1790, Burnes lived at what would become 17th and D streets NW, in a 20-by-24-foot plank house with a stone chimney. The tobacco house that also was on his property was "almost blown down," according to a description from one resident, and his land was "worn out, very much grubbed and washed." However, his house and the adjoining acreage was on the road leading from the Eastern Branch ferry to Georgetown -- a great location for capital planners.

Washington quietly sent two representatives to Burnes to make an offer for his property, approximately 450 acres that stretched roughly from today's H Street to Constitution Avenue between Third and 18th streets NW -- and included the land that would become the site of the White House.
He instructed them to act "in the most profound secrecy" and "to conduct themselves as to excite no suspicion that they are on behalf of the public."
Burnes turned them down.

Next, Washington had his city planner, Maj. Charles Pierre L'Enfant, begin his survey of the Eastern Branch area to fool Burnes into thinking the capital would be built to the east of his holdings.
The ruse failed, and Washington was forced to call a meeting in late March 1791 with Burnes and other major landowners -- 18 men and one woman -- at Sutter's Tavern in Georgetown. No one is sure where the one-story, wood frame tavern stood on what today is Wisconsin Avenue NW, but it was favored by traveling dignitaries and was where Georgetown residents cast their votes on Election Day.
Washington wanted the owners of properties with such names as "Widow's Mite," "Jamaica" and "Hogpen Enlarged" to agree to sell their land for about $67 an acre. That was to be the price for land reserved for buildings and other city improvements. Land designated for future streets was to be donated by the owners, and the remaining land was to be platted into building lots and divided equally between the landowners and the federal government.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

David Burnes Descendants

The Burns family has been traced back to a David Burns who died on 1762 in Princes George County, Maryland. He married Ann Fleming. She died 1764 in Princes George County, Maryland.  David's Probate was done on October 28, 1762 in Princes George County, Maryland and the will filed on October 5, 1737.  Ann Fleming Burns probate was on July 2, 1764 in Princes George County, Maryland and the will filed on March 31, 1764.  Children of David Burns and Ann Fleming are: James Burns, d. July 1772 in Princes George County, Maryland.  Marcia Burns married John Fleming.

James Burns married Jemima Brown about 1770. She died 1783 in Princes George County, Maryland. James and Jemima moved to Henderson County, Tennessee. Jemima Brown's probate was on December 20, 1783, Princes George County, Maryland, and her will filed on February 10, 1779.
James Burns and Jemima Brown children are:
a. John Burns, born in 1735, Princes George County, Maryland and he died in 1781.  He married Agnes Unknown. John Burns and Agnes children are:
1. Adam Alvin Burns, Senior, born on January 5, 1758, near Baltimore, Princes George    County, Maryland and died on March 5, 1842 in Mercer County, PA. He married Anne Magdalene Splitstone in 1780. She was born on April 2, 1759 in Maryland, and died on December 11, 1850. They are both buried in the Rocky Ridge Cem. in Mercer County, PA. Children are:

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