Thursday, May 10, 2007
Researching family tree
I spent a brief part of Sunday afternoon roaming through three old, overgrown cemeteries in rural Marion County, Ala.
I was on a specific mission for my wife, who couldn’t make the trip this first Sunday in May. It was to find the grave site of Hilkiah Burleson.
The story actually began some 18 years ago, when Pam and I were just dating. I found out her mom’s maiden name was Burleson.
We did a bit of short research – different set of Burlesons, different place – no problems.
The lady in the Itawamba County circuit clerk’s office showed a bit of concern and then a laugh when we went for our marriage certificate.
We’ve joked about it to lots of people since.
Pam particularly likes to use it when she gets upset with our children – “That’s all that Burleson (a double dose) coming out.”
Recently Andy had a school project in which he had to produce a family tree on poster board. His research was suddenly more extensive, and it stirred up something very interesting.
Hilkiah Burleson is my great-great-great-grandfather. He is Pam’s great-great-great-grandfather, too. But our great-great-great-grandmothers are different.
It turns out that Hilkiah Burleson was married twice. Each of his wives had between 13-14 children. Pam’s link to Hilkiah is through his first-born Calvin. Mine is through his 20th child Thomas.
As we researched further, we found another link on my mother’s side, the Fredericks. One of Mother’s great-great-great-grandfathers is Hilkiah, too. Her great-great-grandfather was Hilkiah’s eighth child, William C.
My sister Gayla, her husband Roger and I combed the three cemeteries Sunday, but no Hilkiah.
Of course, several of the sites in the Buttahatchie, Burleson and Barn Creek cemeteries are marked only by large rocks with no names carved in them.
We found Burlesons, of course, at all three sites – like Aaron Burleson, Francis Burleson, Kern Burleson, Sarah Burleson, Mary Burleson and Thomas Burleson. I took photographs of most of those.
Tracing your ancestry is also a great way to get name possibilities for your own children – like Erastus Fernando Burleson, Almerine Bovill Burleson, Ferriby Burleson, Sivility Frederick, Permina Adaline Frederick and Pleasant Frederick.
It likely won’t be our last trip back to the cemeteries. Pam still wants to do the search herself, and who knows, it might prove fruitful. We only had about an hour Sunday afternoon for the research.
Plus our next trip might include a visit to the Marion County Courthouse to see if any records exist concerning the cemeteries and who is buried there.
I’ll admit. I’ve never been a history buff. I’ve never even considered tracing my ancestry.
But this one stirred lots of curiosity.
Pam has called many family members and shared the family tree information. Needless to say, we all have gotten lots of good laughs out of the Hilkiah Burleson story.
The ride along gravel roads Sunday afternoon to two of the cemeteries also stirred lots of memories from my growing-up days. I used to ride motorcycles in those parts, and I had not been to the sites in many, many years.
But, surprisingly, my sister didn’t have to direct me too much. I actually remembered the turns.
My mom, Erin and I also visited the more modern and well-kept Cedar Tree Cemetery in Hackleburg, Ala., for the annual Decoration Day. It’s a day I pause and remember many of my late loved ones – like my dad, and my grandparents, Pop and Mom Burleson and Mawmaw and Pawpaw Frederick.
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