Return to Chapter V-10 Proceed to Chapter B-2
TWO: BURNS(ES) AND HEDGES(ES)
"SFA" stands for the Smith Family Archives, assembled and transcribed over many years by Leanna Lois Claudia Smith, daughter of Alonzo; her great-nieces Mellie Morris Smith (daughter of Herbert Gustavus) and Gertrude Fairchild Smith (daughter of Maurice Leigh); and great-great-niece Mildred Aileen Nash (neé Mellie Agnes Smith: daughter of Francis See).
"DCB" stands for correspondence with David Coulon Burns, webmaster of the RootsWeb megasite ~burns/dcb—who cautions that the designations Sr., Jr., and III used below and in later chapters were not likely to have been used by any of the fathers/sons sharing a first name (except for King George). In most cases the present author has tried to indicate this with [square brackets].
Great Britain and its American colonies did not adopt the Gregorian Calendar until 1752. Years began on March 25th; the last day of the previous year was March 24th. This is reflected below in winter dates displayed with split years: e.g. "January 1, 1751/52." (Other split years may indicate uncertainty as to an exact year.)
B-1 The First of the Burnses
● Not Oor Rabbie
My Grandfather Smith's mother Mila was born a Burns±, and it was a tradition in her family that they were descended from—or, at any rate, related to—Robert Burns the Poet. In 1981 the present author did some research and found most of the Poet's family thoroughly accounted for; but that a Burns Connection might still be conjectured via a paternal cousin.
Robert Burns (1759-1796) was the eldest child of William Burnes and Agnes Broun. William Burnes (1721-1784) was the third son of Robert Burnes and Isabella Keith of Kincardineshire in northeast Scotland, where the two-syllable "Burnes(s)" was preferred to "Burns." In 1748 William and his older brother Robert Burnes (1719-1789) left Kincardine to seek their fortunes, heading south to Ayrshire. There William became a market gardener and tenant farmer; Robert settled in Stewarton, worked in the Lochridge lime quarries, taught school to the sons of local farmers, and was gradually crippled by rheumatism.
"We have lost poor uncle Robert this winter," reported his nephew/namesake in 1789. The Poet gave his uncle's three children asylum and helped them find employment. He thought Robert's two boys "remarkably stout fellows [who] promise to do well," and their sister Fanny "one [of] the cleverest girls, and has one of the most amiable dispositions that I have ever seen." She would marry Adam Armour, brother of the Poet's wife Jean. Fanny's brother John worked for the Poet at his Ellisland farm, and later guarded the Stewarton graveyard from invasion by Resurrectionists; John died in 1844.
As for the third child, William, "he goes in May  to bind himself to be a Mason with my father-in-law" (James Armour, a prosperous master mason, who at one point "would raither hae seen the deil himsel' comin' to the hoose to coort his dochter" than Robert Burns). Following the Poet's letter of February 9, 1789, no further mention was made of cousin William. The present author's conjecture was that he might have emigrated shortly afterwards to Virginia, in time to sire Mila Burns's future grandfather William Burns, who was born in 1793. Which would not only have explained a Burns Connection being passed down through the generations, but made Mila a first cousin—three times removed—of Robert the Poet.
However, this 1981 conjecture would be refuted (as related in Fine Lineage's Introduction) and displaced by a less poetic pedigree when the latter came to light on the Internet in 2003—only to be superseded in turn, come 2007.
● Time-Honored vs. Comprehensive
The first version of the Less Poetic Pedigree was laid out according to traditional time-honored sources: principally ~vm/smyth (A Genealogy of the Duke-Shepherd-Van Metre Family) and ~anderson/burns (the monograph "Burns of Berkeley Co. WV, Livingston Co. NY, and Richland Co. OH," compiled by Worth S. Anderson and weblished in 1997).
Then in September 2007 the present author stumbled across ~burns/dcb, the "Extended Family of David Coulon Burns," a RootsWeb's WorldConnect Project which presents a comprehensive overview not only of the Burnses but the Van Metre/Meters as well. ~burns/dcb stands out for its meticulous person-by-person documentation; it also differs from traditional Burns/Hedges/Van Metre sources in many particulars.
Both versions will be presented below and in the chapters to follow (also the earlier yet-to-be-[re]written ones). In most cases the Time-Honored background is displayed first, with principal characters in bold red; followed by the Comprehensive pedigree from ~burns/dcb, with the principals in bold blue. As an additional variation, the Time-Honored generally favors the spelling Van Metre, while the Comprehensive prefers Van Meter. (Because DCB, exasperated at trying to record exact spelling when "the same people varied between the two"—plus other alternates like Vanmeter, Van Matre, etc.—settled on uniform use of Van Meter.)
Whichever variation you favor, the Less Poetic Pedigree spends the latter half of the 18th Century not in Scotland with Oor Rabbie, but among the Appalachians and Blue Ridge Mountains of Ole Virginny.
● Opequon Creek
A tributary of the Potomac River, Opequon Creek flows through the Lower
Shenandoah Valley from the foot of Great North Mountain in Frederick County,
Virginia, to join the Potomac in what
today is West Virginia's Eastern Panhandle. (Click on the thumbnail to the
left to see a 1981 map; and on the one below it to see an 1889 map.) This is Ridge-and-Valley
Appalachian country, and other mountains rise a few miles to the west: Third
Hill, Sleepy Creek, Cacapon—and east: the Blue Ridge's Short Hill, South,
Catoctin. Even today these mountains are well forested, with steep
hollows between them; the region is celebrated in John Denver's song
"Take Me Home, Country Roads." (Which has been
adopted by the entire state of West Virginia; but the song's mention of the Shenandoah and
Blue Ridge Mountains associates it with "only the very eastern tip of the
Eastern Panhandle," as per Wikipedia.)
For most of the 18th Century the Shawnee, Mingo, and Delaware tribes used the Eastern Panhandle as a hunting ground, not withdrawing westward till after the American Revolution. Frederick County (currently Virginia's northernmost) was formally established in 1743; five years later, Lord Fairfax employed young George Washington to survey its northern third, which would become Berkeley County in 1772. Jefferson County was created from Berkeley's eastern section in 1801, with Opequon Creek forming part of the border; Berkeley's western section became Morgan County in 1820. These three Panhandle counties would join the new Unionist state of West Virginia in 1863, four years after John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry in Jefferson County.
But a century before the Civil War, Opequon Creek was in remote backwoods territory; roads and ferries were only starting to reach the Lower Shenandoah in the 1750s. And with them, it would seem, came the First of the Burnses.
● William Sr. and Jo(h)anna
The Time-Honored Version
William Burns [Sr.] was born in 1718, "allegedly in Scotland." An Edinburgh birthplace and parentage are tentatively suggested by Louis F. Burns in Turn of the Wheel: A Genealogy of the Burns and Tinker Families (self-published in Fallbrook CA in 1980), but ~anderson/burns is disinclined to accept their validity: "The identity of William Burns's parents must be considered unknown."
Louis Burns states that William emigrated to New Jersey circa 1736; so does John Thomas Reynolds in From Scotland to America: The Descendants of William and Joanna Burns±±. Turn of the Wheel adds that "his uncle William Burns bought him a great coat and assisted him to get started in America," although this helpful uncle remained behind in Scotland.
"Wherever he came from," William settled in the Lower Shenandoah Valley no later than June 25, 1751, when (according to Reynolds and ~vm/smyth) Lord Fairfax granted him 350 acres on the west side of Opequon Creek. As the valley developed and population grew, William acquired considerably more acreage; one tract on the Warm Springs Road was purchased from the Hedges family (of whom more in Chapter B-2). At times William would be involved in long-running court battles over the validity of his land titles. By the Revolutionary War (during which he was said to have been a Tory) he had accumulated 1,518 acres in Berkeley County; in 1792 he would pay county taxes on 1,160 acres.
About the time he came to the Opequon, William Burns married Joanna Van Metre, second child and only daughter of Johannes Van Metre [Sr.] and Rebecca Powelson/Poulson (who will be surveyed, along with their family, in Chapter V-10). Joanna was born circa 1732 near the Monocacy River in Prince George's County, Maryland. After her father's death, she and her brother Johannes (John) Van Metre [Jr.] were raised by their maternal aunt Agnes (Angelitje) Powelson/Poulson and her husband Jonas Hedges: of whom see more here.
The Burns family homestead, though west of the creek in Berkeley County, was near present-day Kearneysville across the Opequon: just east of the Jefferson County border, midway between Martinsburg to the northwest and Harpers Ferry to the southeast. Joanna's brother John lived nearby in a house that still stands at 177 Elsie Drive; built circa 1780, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. (See ~vm/jvmhouse for a photo.)
Others neighbors included General Horatio Gates, who prior to the Revolutionary War lived down the road at "Traveler's Rest"; and Gates's friend General Charles Lee, whose home "Prato Rio" was a few miles away. (Both Gates and Lee reckoned they'd have been more suitable commanders of the Continental Army than George Washington, and both made efforts to replace him. Gates fell out of favor after the disastrous Battle of Camden; Lee was court-martialed following the Battle of Monmouth; in the 1780s both would move away from Berkeley County and Virginia. "Part of the Lee estate is now occupied by a U.S. Fish Hatchery," reports a c.1950s brochure.)
Joanna Van Metre Burns died on August 21, 1801, "in the 69th year of her age"; William Burns [Sr.] followed on December 31, 1806. "They were both buried, side by side, in the little graveyard on the Kearneysville farm" (~vm/smyth page 39). William's will—which didn't make it through probate till December 18, 1810—was unique in mentioning a brother Robert Burns, "now of Pennsylvania."
The Comprehensive Version
William Burns [Sr.] was born in 1718, supposedly in Scotland; "we have nothing but lore to say it was Edinburgh or anywhere in Midlothian for that matter" (DCB). His parents—names unknown—may have been born around 1692 and 1696 respectively. William had a brother Robert Burns and (possibly) two sisters named Catharine and Isabella. Around 1752 he married Johanna Van Meter in Prince George's County MD; she had been born there in 1732, the daughter of Johannes J. Van Meter [Sr.] and Rebecca Powelson, followed in 1735 by brother Johannes ("Honce" or "Hannie") Van Meter [Jr.] Johanna died August 21, 1801; William Sr. followed on December 31, 1806; both were buried at the Burns Homestead near Kearneysville.
● The First Generation
The Time-Honored Version
The eleven children of William Burns [Sr.] and Joanna Van Metre were:
* Elizabeth Burns: born October 20, 1753
in Frederick County VA; in 1772 married her cousin Abraham Van Metre
[Jr.] (1751-1834: son of Abraham Van Metre [Sr.] and Agnes
Hedges [actually Ruth Hedges: see below]); had seven children†; Elizabeth died June 13, 1831
* Margaret Burns: born circa 1758 near Martinsburg, Frederick County VA; married Henry F. Whitnah (1727-1819: aka Whitenack, Whitnack, Whitnach, Whitenah, and Witnah; he served during the Revolution in General Daniel Morgan's regiment); had eight or nine children‡; Margaret died before 1840
* Robert Burns: born circa 1766; in 1794 married Rebecca Southwood (c.1775-c.1824: daughter of Edward Southwood and Rebecca Spahr aka Spohr); had one daughter, Ruth Southwood Burns (c.1795-1854)††; by 1807 they were living in Groveland, Ontario County (later Livingston County), New York. After his first wife's death, Robert married Ruth [surname?]; by 1841 they had settled in Jefferson Township, Richland County, Ohio (south of Mansfield); Robert's will was probated on February 18, 1843
* George Burns: born 1768 in Frederick County VA; circa 1795-99 married his cousin Agnes Hedges (born 1775: daughter of Joseph Hedges and Elizabeth Rawlings—click here for more); had two sons, William Burns and Joseph Burns, who would inherit the family homestead on Opequon Creek; George died in 1841
* Hannah Burns: born circa 1769-70 in Frederick County VA; in 1791 married her cousin Abraham Van Metre (born 1773: son of Jacob Van Metre and Isabella Evans—click here for more); had eleven children‡‡‡
* John Burns: born April 13, 1771 in Frederick County VA; in 1794 married Frances (Fanny) Southwood (1777-1855: another daughter of Edward Southwood and Rebecca Spahr aka Spohr); was named an executor of his father's will, along with one of the Abraham Van Metres; died December 20, 1826. John's great-granddaughter Maria Isabella Boyd Hardinge High would be the famous Confederate spy Belle Boyd
* William Burns [Jr.]: born circa 1775 [but see below]
* Ruth Burns: born circa 1775 in Berkeley County VA; married Daniel Colgin, who may have been commissioned to build a proposed Missouri capital at Côte Sans Dessein, Calloway County MO
* Mary Burns: born circa 1777 in Berkeley County VA; married her cousin Isaac Van Metre (of unspecified parentage)
* Isabella Burns: born circa 1779 in Frederick [?] County VA; married James McDonald
* Rebecca Burns: born circa 1781 in Berkeley County VA; married her cousin William Van Metre (of unspecified parentage); received 300 acres on the Warm Springs Road in her father's will
The Comprehensive Version
The eleven children of William Burns [Sr.] and Johanna Van Meter were:
* William Burns [Jr.]: born 1752 (of whom
see more in Chapter B-3)
* Elizabeth "Betsy" Burns: born October 20, 1753 in "Kearneyville"; married her cousin Abraham Van Meter [Jr.] (1751-1839: son of Abraham Van Meter [Sr.] and Ruth Hedges—click here for more); had nine children†; Elizabeth died June 13, 1831
* Margaret Burns: born 1758 in Martinsburg; married Henry F. Whitnach (1743-1819); had nine children‡; Margaret died between 1830 and 1840
* Ruth Burns: born circa 1765 in "Kearneyville"; married Daniel Colgan [Sr.]; had five children§; died before 1810, according to a lawsuit filed that year by Samuel Roberts [Jr.]
* Robert Burns: born circa 1765 in "Kearneyville"; in 1794 married Rebecca Southwood (born 1774, died before 1824); had one daughter, Ruth Southwood Burns (c.1793-1854)††; was living in Groveland, Ontario County (later Livingston County), New York in 1820 and 1830; married secondly Ruth Colgin; by 1840 they were living in Jefferson, Richland County, Ohio; Robert died January 9, 1843 and was buried in Bellville Cemetery, Richland County OH
* George Burns [Sr.]: born 1768 in Frederick County VA; in 1795 married Agnes Hedges (born 1775, died before 1840—click here for more); had ten children‡‡; George died in 1841
* Mary Burns: born circa 1769 in "Kearneyville"; married Isaac Van Meter (of unspecified parentage); had one son, Amasa Van Meter (1796-1851: he emigrated to Illinois where he married Elizabeth Pinkstaff in 1820 and had eight children)
* Isabella Burns: born circa 1771 in Frederick [?] County VA; married James McDonald; had seven children§§
* John Burns: born April 13, 1771 in "Kearneyville"; in 1794 married Frances "Fanny" Southwood (born 1777); had twelve children†††; John died December 20, 1826 and was buried in the John Burns Cemetery east of Martinsburg
* Hannah Burns: born October 27, 1773 in Frederick [?] County VA; in 1791 married her cousin Abraham Van Meter (1769-1833: son of Jacob Van Meter [Sr.] and Isabella Evans—click here for more); had eleven children‡‡‡
* Rebecca Burns: born circa 1775 in "Kearneyville"; married William Van Meter (of unspecified parentage)
● A Note on Consanguinity
The relationships above and below (and through the next few chapters) cannot be represented in a simple family tree. The labyrinthine connections between Burnses, Hedgeses, Southwoods, and above all Van Metres / Van Meters require something more along three-dimensional lines. Factor in various Evanses, Tabbs, Gorrells, and the like, and many more entries would say "married her/his cousin."
William Burns [Jr.]'s wife (and second cousin) Magdalena Van Metre had nine siblings, six of whom married their first cousins; a seventh, like Magdalena, married a second cousin; and an eighth appears in one webgen to have married her own nephew. (See Chapter B-3 for more.)
But Wikipedia reminds us that "in earlier times it was relatively common for cousins to marry. Since people tended not to move very far from the place of their birth, the closest eligible spouse would often be a cousin. Marrying cousins was also a way of keeping land and property within a family (endogamy)."±±± In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (begun in 1796, published in 1813) Lady Catherine de Bourgh and her late sister, Mrs. Darcy, intended their first-cousin children to marry:
The engagement between them is of a peculiar kind. From their infancy, they have been intended for each other. It was the favourite wish of his mother, as well as of hers. While in their cradles, we planned the union: and now, at the moment when the wishes of both sisters would be accomplished, in their marriage, to be prevented by a young woman of inferior birth, of no importance in the world, and wholly unallied to the family!±±±±
As David M. Shapard notes:
Marriages among the upper classes frequently involved people whose families were related, or allied, in some way, for such marriages could further strengthen the family ties that were so crucial in this society in determining power, wealth, and position, especially among the upper classes. This is a critical reason why first cousin marriages, such as that envisioned here, were tolerated, and why Lady Catherine and her sister would have been concerned to plan a marriage while their children were still in their cradles.±±±±±
Consanguinity to this degree was increasingly frowned on as the 19th Century progressed. In Gone With the Wind, horse breeder Beatrice Tarleton wants to know "Is it illegal for the Wilkes[es] to marry outside of their family?" and goes on to declare:
Cousins shouldn't marry, even second cousins. It weakens the strain... I know what I'm talking about because I had some cousins who married each other and I give you my word their children all turned out as popeyed as bullfrogs, poor things. And when my family wanted me to marry a second cousin, I bucked like a colt. I said, 'No, Ma. Not for me. My children will all have spavins and heaves.' Well, Ma fainted when I said that about spavins, but I stood firm and Grandma backed me up. She knew a lot about horse breeding too, you see, and said I was right...±±±±±±
Back in 18th Century [West] Virginia, lack of mobility would have limited the range of "eligibles" and encouraged clannishness—already inherent in those of Scottish descent.
But you have to wonder
whether it was pioneering spirit that sent increasing numbers of Burnses to the frontier
wilderness of Kentucky and Ohio, so much as desire to find new names and new
blood to intermingle with: which they would do.
± The Penguin Dictionary of Surnames (by Basil Cottle, Harmondsworth:
Penguin Books, 1967, p. 61) defines the surname Burn as "'stream'... the
word is now part only of the northern and Scots vocabulary... Burn(e)s,
Burness 'of (i.e. at) the B—'... -nes an older spelling
than -ns. -ns found in Cumberland, Westmorland, Scotland;
61st commonest surname in Scotland in 1958... Robert Burns's
original surname was Burness, from Burnhouse 'house on the B—',
place in Argylls."
±± DCB credits From Scotland to America: The Descendants of William and Joanna Burns (1718-1987) by John Thomas Reynolds (Manasses VA: Old Town Press, 1989) as a prime source for ~burns/dcb. This volume included almost 1,000 descendants; DCB, thanks to RootsWeb and the Internet, has more than tripled that number. (Hopefully the present-day descendants are less consanguine than their forebears.)
±±± http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cousin_couple (as of September 21, 2007)
±±±± The Annotated Pride and Prejudice (Austen, Jane; annotated and edited by Shapard, David M. New York: Anchor Books, 2004, p. 644).
±±±±± Ibid., p. 645.
±±±±±± Gone With the Wind (Mitchell, Margaret, New York: Avon, 1973 printing, pp. 91-93).
The seven/nine children of Elizabeth Burns and Abraham Van Metre [Jr.] were:
Ruth Van Metre (born 1772: married Robert Phillips, had two children); Naomi Van Metre (born 1775: married Samuel Roberts, had six children); Joseph Van Metre (1778-1822: married his cousin Margaret Whitenak [of whom see more below], had five children); Ashahel Van Metre (born 1785: married his cousin Mary Burns, daughter of William Burns [Jr.] and Magdalena Van Metre, had seven children—click here for more); Abishua Van Metre (born 1788: married Elizabeth Tabb, had ten children, emigrated to Kentucky); Isaac Van Metre (no info); and Elizabeth Van Metre (1795-1820: married John Evans Van Metre, son of Isaac Van Metre and Isabel Evans, had two children); all as per ~vm/smyth pages 104-105.
Isaac Van Meter (born 1771); Ruth Van Meter (born 1772: married Robert Phillips in 1798, had two children); Naomi Van Meter (born 1775: married Samuel Roberts [Jr.], had six children); Joseph Van Meter (1778-1822: married his cousin Margaret A. Whitnach [of whom see more below] in 1800, had five children, emigrated to West Liberty OH [now Brooke County WV] in 1809); Josiah Van Meter (1781-1872; married Lydia Covenhoven in 1803, had ten children, died and was buried in Atchison MO); Abraham Van Meter III (1783-1867: in 1805 married his cousin Anna Nancy Van Meter [daughter of Jacob Van Meter [Sr.] and Isabella Evans], had eleven children—click here for more); Ashahel Van Meter (1785-1870: married his cousin Mary "Polly" Burns, daughter of William Burns [Jr.] and Magdalena Van Meter, had seven children—click here for more); Abishua Van Meter (1788-1872: married Elizabeth Elliott "Betsy" Tabb, had ten children, emigrated to Kentucky); and Elizabeth Van Meter (1795-1820: married John Evans Van Meter, son of Isaac Van Meter and Mary "Polly" Evans) in 1815, had three children).
The eight/nine children of Margaret Burns and Henry F. Whitna(c)h were:
Margaret Whitnah (1780-1865: married her cousin Joseph Van Metre [of whom see more above], son of Elizabeth Burns and Abraham Van Metre); Hannah Whitnah (married Samuel Roberts—no indication if same as Naomi Van Metre's husband); Eleanor Whitnah (died 1826); Ruth Whitnah (no info); John G. Whitnah (1787-1854: married Mary Ann Carroll); William Burns Whitnah (died 1853: married Sarah Mounts); Joseph Henry Whitnah [Sr.] (1792/93-1862: married his cousin Ruth Southwood Burns, daughter of Margaret's brother Robert Burns and Rebecca Southwood); Rebecca Whitnah (1794-1827: married Nicholas Strayer); and Sarah Whitnah (no info); all as per ~higginsandwhitnah, which does not include Sarah as the ninth child; and page 41 of ~vm/smyth, which names all nine Whitnack.
Margaret A. Whitnach (1780-1865: in 1800 married her cousin Joseph Van Meter [of whom see more above], son of Elizabeth Burns and Abraham Van Meter, had five children); Hannah Whitnach (born circa 1782, married Samuel Roberts [Jr.] in 1795, presumably died before 1796 when Samuel married Hannah's cousin Naomi Van Meter); Eleanor Whitnach (c.1784-1826); Ruth Whitnach (born c.1786, died after 1834); John G. Whitnach (c.1787-1854: served in the War of 1812, married Mary Ann Carroll in 1823, had nine children, farmed in Berkeley County VA); Sarah Whitnach (born c.1789, married Robert Campbell in 1817, had two children, died before 1860); William Burns Whitnach (born c.1791, married Mary "Sarah" Ward, had three children, lived at times in Groveland NY, Tecumseh MI, and Fulton IL, died after 1860); Joseph Henry Whitnah [sic] (c.1792-1862: circa 1820 married his cousin Ruth Southwood Burns [of whom see more below], daughter of Margaret's brother Robert Burns and Ruth Southwood, had three children, lived at times in Groveland NY, Richland County OH, and Arcadia MO); and Rebecca Whitnach (1794-1827: married Nicholas Strayer in 1813, had five children, died in Hancock MD)
The five children of Ruth Burns and Daniel Colgan are identified only by ~burns/dcb:
Susannah Colgan (married a Mr. Ford); Daniel Colgan [Jr.]; Mary Colgan; Robert Colgan; and Harvey Colgan. All were born between 1783 and 1810. Daniel Colgan [Sr.] died after 1820 in Côte Sans Dessein, Callaway County MO
The sisters Rebecca and Frances Southwood married the brothers Robert and John Burns. According to ~whitnah, the sisters "lived very different lives for the brothers were very different men... entirely different in disposition, John being a good man in every way and Robert, the opposite... Robert was a man of a cruel, violent temper." Supposedly he left his daughter Ruth Southwood Burns in a forest where she had to live on herbs and roots for several days before following the sound of a cowbell to a settler's cabin.
Ruth, born c.1793, married David Blair c.1810 and had a daughter, Sophia Blair Morrow (c.1811-1873). After David Blair's death, Ruth married David Courson (aka Coursen) c.1815 and had three children: Robert B[urns?] Courson (1816-1840), William Courson (1818-1897), and Mina Courson Irwin Moore (born c.1817-20). After David Courson's death in 1820, Ruth married her cousin Joseph Henry Whitnah [Sr.] [of whom see more above] and had another three children: Margaret Whitnah Leedy Amos (1821-1903), Rebecca Whitnah Howard (1823-1896) and Joseph Henry Whitnah [Jr.] (1826-1897).
Despite the alleged Hansel & Gretel incident in her childhood, Ruth accompanied or followed her father Robert from Virginia to New York, and then to Richland County OH circa 1838; her four older surviving children were all mentioned in Robert's 1841 will. Ruth died in 1854 and was buried, like her father and stepmother and son Robert B. Courson, in Richland County's Bellville Cemetery; she would be joined there by children William, Margaret, and Rebecca.
All but two of George Burns and Agnes Hedges's ten children are identified only by ~burns/dcb:
William George Burns (born 1796, married Ann Downey in 1834, had three children, may have died in the California Gold Rush c.1850); Elizabeth Burns (c.1797-1888: married John Hite in 1818, had two children, died in Logan KY); Johannah Burns (born c.1799, married Jacob Gorrell in 1817—click here for more—and had one child, died before 1840); Joseph J. Burns (1801-1865: married Eveline E. Lloyd in 1829, did clerical work); George Burns [Jr.] (1802-1823); John Burns (born c.1804, died after 1860); Nancy Burns (born c.1805: married John S. Light in 1824); Maria Burns (1808-1836: married Jacob Fisher in "1796"[?]); Samuel Burns (born and died in 1810); and Ruth Burns (born c.1812).
The seven children of Isabella Burns and James McDonald are identified only by ~burns/dcb:
William McDonald (1788-1856: married Margaret Van Meter in 1830, had four children, buried in Berkeley County's Tuscarora Presbyterian Cemetery); Robert McDonald (born c.1791, married Mary "Polly" Lyle in 1825, died after 1850), Andrew McDonald; James McDonald; John McDonald (married Jane Silver in 1812, served as a [military?] captain, died in 1841); George McDonald (married Jane VanArsdale); and Joanna McDonald (married Uriah S. Henshaw in 1807).
Several of John Burns and Frances "Fanny" Southwood's children are identified individually by ~kittymunson, ~berkeleybirths, ~hedges/aqwg04, and Appendix A of Louis A. Sigaud's Belle Boyd: Confederate Spy. The full roster of nine (if not ten) is provided by ~burns/dcb:
Edward Southwood Burns (1795-1818); William Clark Burns (1798-1862: married Elizabeth Kounsler [aka Kownslar aka Korrnslar] in 1824, had nine children, died in Lafayette County MO); John N. Burns (1801-1823); Rebecca Burns (1802-1871: in 1820 married Joseph Hedges [1780-1821: son of Samuel, son of Joshua, son of Joseph Hedges Sr.—click here for more], had three children, then married James Lyle Campbell in 1829 and had four more children); Ruth Burns (1803-1866: married James William Glenn in 1823, had four children [including Mary Rebecca Glenn, who married Benjamin Reed Boyd and had Maria Isabelle "Belle" Boyd in 1843/44]); Eliza H. Burns (1805-1887: married Joseph Gorrell in 1825, had seven children); Benjamin Franklin Burns (1809-1857: married Ruth Gorrell in 1831, had two children); Daniel Colgan Burns (1812-1892: married Winifred E. Gorrell in 1853, had one child); George Washington Burns (1813-1890: married Nancy H. "Nannie" Harrison in 1852, had five children, worked as a land and real estate agent); James Harvey Burns (1815-1847); John Southwood Burns (born 1817, married Mary Louisa Earle in 1842, had four children; DCB now believes him to be the same as Jehu Southwood Burns, previously recorded as born 1818, married Mary [surname?], had three children, died after 1850).
The eleven children of Hannah Burns and Abraham Van Metre/Meter were:
Jonathan Van Metre (1793-1823); Jacob Van Metre (1794-1845: married Margaret Tabb); Isabel Van Metre (born 1797: married John Chenowith); Rebecca Van Metre (no info); William Burns Van Metre (born 1801); Ailse Van Metre (1804-1855); Abraham Van Metre (no info); Abner Van Metre (1808-1864); Ruth Van Metre (no info); Elizabeth Van Metre (no info); and Daniel Van Metre (1818-1826); all as per ~vm/smyth page 103.
(Comprehensive Version: includes some addenda from ~evans/aqwg05)
Jonathan Van Meter (1793-1823/1833: emigrated to Kentucky, where he married Mary Chrisman Tabb in 1817); Jacob B. Van Meter (1794-1845: married Alcinda Abner Daniel and/or Margaret Tabb); Isabel Van Meter (1797-1879: married John Chenoweth in 1823, had two children); Rebecca Van Meter (1798/99-1831: married John Schell, had three children); William Burns Van Meter (1801-1872: married Rachel Read); Alcinda B. Van Meter (1804-1853); Abraham E. Van Meter (1806-1867: married Mary Cooper Van Meter); Abner Van Meter (1808-1864: married Elizabeth Metzler, had twelve children, emigrated to Mercer, Illinois in 1838); Ruth Van Meter (1811-1856: married Jacob Stipp in 1835, had four children); Elizabeth Van Meter (1816-1843/44: married Frederick D. Deck in 1837, had four children); and Daniel C. Van Meter (1818-1876).
● Sources for "The Burns Connection" included Franklyn Bliss Snyder's The Life of Robert Burns (New York: Macmillan, 1932); Maurice Lindsay's Robert Burns: The Man, His Work, The Legend (London: MacGibbon and Kee, 1968); and Lindsay's all-inclusive The Burns Encyclopedia.
● Robert Burns's February 9, 1789 letter was addressed to his cousin James Burness (1750-1837), son of William and Robert Burnes's eldest brother James Burnes (1717-1761). Robert the Poet maintained a lifelong correspondence with his cousin James, a Montrose "writer" (lawyer) who "remains a shadowy figure, despite the poet's letters." The last letter would be mailed in July 1796, nine days before Robert's death, when he wrote begging for £10 so he could pay a haberdasher's bill—and not have to die in jail.
● ~anderson/burns is no longer available online (as of September 2007).
● "The Mingo were not actually an Indian tribe, but a multi-cultural group of Indians that established several communities within present-day West Virginia. They lacked a central government and, like all other Indians within the region at that time, were subject to the control of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Mingo originally lived closer to the Atlantic Coast, but European settlement pushed them into western Virginia and eastern Ohio" (~history/berkeley).
● Robert Harper settled at the junction of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers in 1734. He obtained a land grant from Lord Fairfax in 1748 and established a ferry across the Potomac; in 1763 the Virginia General Assembly created the town of Shenandoah Falls "at Mr. Harper's Ferry." George Washington, who as president of the "Patowmack" Company visited Harpers Ferry in 1785 to study canal prospects, would in 1794 propose this site for the United States Armory and Arsenal. (When John Brown raided Harpers Ferry in 1859, he briefly captured George Washington's sword, dueling pistols, and great-great-nephew Lewis; as per ~wash/trail.)
● In ~roots/oldfrederick, S. David Burns states that according to his family's records, William Burns [Sr.] "landed in Philadelphia in 1749 and traveled down the 'great wagon road' to Fredericktown"; and that "he married Joanna Van Metre in 1751, at which time they moved to then Berkeley County, Virginia."
● Although sources agree that Margaret Burns was born in Martinsburg circa 1758, that town (the seat of Berkeley County) was not actually chartered till twenty years later. Prior to 1778, "the village of 200 people did not have a legal name, but the area was known as the 'Berkeley Court House'" after that county was formed in 1772; as per ~history/berkeley.
● ~burns/dcb has Margaret Burns marrying her second husband, Peter Bramhall, in 1792—although Henry F. Whitna(c)h did not die till 1819. ~burns/dcb also shows Margaret and Henry's daughter Margaret A. Whitnach marrying Samuel Roberts [Jr.], somewhere between his weddings to Hannah Whitnach and Naomi Van Metre.
● Page 40 of ~vm/smyth says George Burns married Agnes Hedges on July 10, 1799 in Martinsburg, Berkeley County VA; ~burns/dcb says the wedding was conducted by John Boyd on the same month and day, but four years earlier.
● DCB doesn't "have any proof that Ruth Colgin was a sister of Daniel Colgan, but I would put money on it." Daniel's brother William Colgan was a member of George Washington's personal guard. "Colgan" would be given as first or middle name to Burns descendants as late as 1880.
● The Legend of Belle Boyd, Confederate Spy is too elaborate for a mere footnote, but here is a condensed version: at the age of seventeen Maria Isabella Boyd (1843/44-1900) shot and killed a Union soldier who broke into her Martinsburg home and insulted her mother. Though exonerated, Belle was kept under close watch—which she turned to her advantage by charming at least one officer into spilling military secrets. These she conveyed to the Confederate Army by various means, including a ride through the night and a run through enemy fire; for which efforts she was awarded the Southern Cross of Honor and made Stonewall Jackson's honorary aide-de-camp. Betrayed by a lover, Belle was several times arrested and twice imprisoned; she went to Europe to regain her health, became an actress, had a stage career, wrote her memoirs, and toured the west giving dramatic lectures. An entertaining biography ("Belle Boyd, Cleopatra of the Secession") can be found at ~belle, which notes that "the Boyds traced themselves back to an ancient Scottish clan."
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