They did things differently in the old days, that doesn't mean they did not have to deal with similar issues, problems, and emotions. It just meant they had different traditions and less options than we have today. Or, maybe they actually had more.
Take the Civil War, for instance. Today, we hear of the short and long-term effects of PTSD, and other residual maladies from serving in the military. Don't you suppose the daily horrors, illnesses, and images borne by the men who survived Civil War battles were just as haunting and horrific as our soldiers face today?
In researching a branch of the Faulkner Family who migrated from Anson County, North Carolina to Randolph County, Alabama, I came across a story that needed a little more research and a little more telling, that of one Samuel Monroe Burdette.
He was born on March 6, 1843, at Fox Creek, in Randolph County, Alabama. The community of Fox Creek is long gone, but the creek and the property remain. It's now a recreational area off of Lake Wedowee in Randolph County, located on the eastern-central border of Alabama, near the Georgia State line.
Samuel was the 6th of 7 children of James Woodall Burdette and wife, Alice Falkner Burdette. But the story didn't actually start with him because over a decade prior, in Wilkes County, Georgia, in May of 1821, Catherine Mahala Ogletree was born if John "Jake" Ogletree and wife, Nancy Rice. They were married on August 20, 1820 and Mahala came soon after. Her age is very fluid. She portrayed herself as older or younger, whatever would serve her best. As many of these ladies of the 19th century as I have came across, she was not alone in this action.
20 Aug 1820
Wilkes, Georgia, USA
Now, I'm not certain how many children were born to Jake and Nancy, only that there was at least one more, a son, nor do I know what happened to Nancy, but I do know John "Jake" Ogletree died about 1833, or possibly a year prior, as his estate was settled that year. Catherine Mahala Ogletree, an orphan, was then sent to Randolph County, Alabama, where she went to live with her mother's younger brother, Moses Rice. There, she met the Burdette family.
The 1860 census speaks volumes, without meaning to. We find Catharine Ogletree living as a boarder with James and Alice. They are well in their middle years, over half of their offspring have flown the nest to start their own, and they have 4 remaining children at home, including 19 year old Samuel. Catherine Ogletree is shown as 30, but she could have been as old as 39. This census was taken on August 27, 1860. What it doesn't report is that Catharing Ogletree was heavy with child by this date.
Now, I don't know the details, whether it was at the end of the gun of Moses Rice, whether it was voluntary, or if there was a Sheriff (who would have been Samuel's Uncle Wilson Falkner at this time), and a bastardy bond, or from pressure from his parents, but 19 year old Samuel Burdette would make the much older Mahala Ogletree an honest woman, and marry her. There's no real way to know, but something tells me it was no love story. Granted, this age difference wasn't unheard of, neither was it common. If you notice, Alice Faulkner had several years on James Burdette, but their marriage was a lengthy one that had produced a large family.
For Samuel and Mahala, there would be no more children and to me, that speaks volumes in itself. Georgia Ann Burdette was born the very next month after the census, in September of 1860. Samuel and Mahala didn't get married until December 13.
from Alabama Pioneers
Then came the Civil War and the Burdette family was affected in a large way. Samuel's older brother, Benjamin Apling Burdette, fought in the War, as did his younger brother, Jesse Littleton Burdette. Ben made it out alive, Littleton did not, and Samuel, well, here's the story.
Samuel M. Burdette enlisted in Company E, 13th Alabama Infantry under Captain M. D. Robison on July 26,1861. He's in the July Muster Roll in Randolph County and in Montgomery in August of 1861. He is present in Nov - December of that year under the command of Captain John Adams Moore and continued as such until May-June of 1862, when it was noted that he was sick "from wounds recieved in battle".
The above document shows him at the Hospital in Staunton, Virginia. At various times, he was found at Howard's Grove Hospital in Richmond, Va, where he was suffering from Rheumatism, in June of 1863, where it was noted that "Burdette is improving". In August of 63, at Howard's Grove he was described as suffering from "Debilititis, Convalescent" and on Dec 31, 1865, he was in the Hosptial at Staunton, Virginia for Pleurisy, which was highly unusual, as you will see.
On August 17, 1864, Samuel M. Burdette took the Oath of Allegience to the United States. He was described as being fair of Complexion, with dark hair and gray eyes, five foot 6 in height, with his residence given as Randolph County, Alabama. It was noted that he had deserted at Petersburg, Virginia on August 17, 19864, and recieved a pass to Indiana.
The above page states that S. M. Burdette, Pvt. Co. E 13th Regt. Alabama Calvary was a POW at Knoxville, Tennesee (Rebel Deserters) during October/ Novemeber 1864, disposed as "Took the Oath October 7, 1864 Sent to Chattanooga, Tenn Oct 8 64".
He appeared on a Roll of Prisoners of War, captured at Antietam and paroled at Sharpsburgh.
Here he was back in the Hospital.
The Sept / Oct 1864 Muster Roll noted that he had Deserted on August 15, 1864.
In 1895, Mahala Ogletree Burdett, filed for a Widow's Pension. It was not her first attempt. It appears she knew he had joined the 10th Tennesee Calvary.
Which he had. The Tenth Tennessee, as opposed to the side he had signed up for in 1861, was a Union Troop, not the Confederates. As this was Mahala, the Samuel Burdette who was in Co. E, 13th Alabama Regiment, was the same Samuel Burdette who was in Co. M. Tennessee Calvary.
In summary, Samuel enlisted at age 18 in the Randolph Rangers in Alabama. For a little over a year, he was shown in the muster rolls until being wounded in late spring of 1862. From there, he was transferred from one hospital to another in Virginia under a variety of ailments, Rheumatism, Pleurisy and Debilititis.
He was taken as a Prisoner of War in August of 1862 and sent to Fort McHenry, Maryland on October 14, 1862. It was stated that he was captured at Antietam, sent to Aiken's Landing, Virginia and paroled to Sharpsburg.
He was recorded as having deserted in August of 1864, and was located in Knoxville, Tennesee during Oct/Nov of 1864 within a group labeled "Rebel Deserters", which I take to mean, that the deserters were discovered by Union Troops. They stated he took the Oath and was sent to Chattanooga, Tennessee. On the Oath of Allegience, it was noted that he was from Randolph County, Alabama and had deserted at Petersburg, Virginia in August of 1864. He then, near the end of the War, enlisted with the Union Army in Murray's Battlion, Co. C 22nd Batt., where again he was noted as "Absent Without Leave", and ordered dropped from the rolls.
Did his wounding and the battles steal Samuel's will and strength? Was he so terrified of Battle that he kept escaping? Did he actually side with the Union or was that an act of self-preservation or something else? Was he a contentious objector?
On January 7, 1865, Samuel Monroe Burdette married Sarah A "Sallie" Hargrove in Maury County, Tennesee.
The problem with that is that Catherine Mahala Ogletree Burdette was still living in Alabama, waiting on him, like so many other Civil War Widows, although she was not one in truth. She thought she was, however, at this point, although I believe that in time, she realized she was not, even though she did not speak of it.
There was another little twist to Samuel's new life, he began referring to himself as "John". It was a 'secret' that at least his last wife would be cognitive of. His use of another name did not anul the marriage, as the fact that he did not obtain a divorce would make any marriage and the children born into it illegitimate. That would be a disgrace in those days, so if Sallie knew any of his secrets, she would not have let on.
Sarah Hargrove was born in 1842 and raised in Williamson County, Tennesee, the daughter of William "Billie" Hargrove and wife, Martha Criswell. She was much closer in age to "John", as I will now call him, than Mahala was.
They wasted no time in starting a family and by 1870, had three children. They made their home in Franklin, where John was a farmer, and lived near families of Howells and Wilsons, which would be important in the future. Mahala and Georgia were nowhere to be found in 1870, but I have already discovered that a large number of the Faulkner and Burdette families were not found in the 1870 census, so it appears the census takers missed an entire community, or at least a big section of it. My guess would be that Mahala and Georgia were living with some of the Burdette family.
They are found in 1880, however. Georgia Ann is now 19 years old and married, with a little boy she has named Wilbur. She married Harmon Willingham and they are taking care of her mother and always will. They are still living in Fox Creek, where Samuel aka John, was born.
'John' and Sarah are still living in Williamson County, Tennesee and seem to be doing quite well. Their brood has increased to 8 children. John named his oldest son and second child John William Burdette. He was followed by Louvenia Jane, Benjamin Apling (after the Uncle he probably never met), James Henry, Robert Edward, Simon Ellis, Minerva Elizabeth and Snowada.
They're still in Williamson 20 years later, and only the two youngest remain, Rosa and Wyley. There may have been other children born during the 20 year gap, but none that I could find. Rosa was born just a year after Snowada, so I doubt it. John and Sarah have been married and farming in Tennessee for 35 years. It seems Samuel found peace as John. They've raised a dozen kids. John never hid the fact that he came from Alabama, apparently. Meanwhile, back in Georgia.
Mahala Ogletree Burdette is hanging on. She's 79, still living with her daughter, Georgia, and her family and her profession is...get this "Miner of Coal'. A 79 year old female coal miner? Talk about being built Ford Tough!
She has filed for Widow's pensions at least twice, once in 1885 and again in 1895. It must have confused the Government, as they don't find he was killed in battle, but deserted. At some point, she must have found out that he had joined Union troops in Tennesee, because she then applied for Widow's benefits through his service there.
In Tennesee, "John" suffered a blow. Before 1910, he lost the love of his life, Sarah Hargrave Burdette. It is unknown the exact date of her death or the place of her burial, but probably in Williamson County.
The 1910 census shows 'John' living with the family of his youngest daughter, Rosa Burdett Meachum. For some odd reason, in this census, he chose to lie about his place of birth and that of this parents and claimed "Virginia', which he had not done before. But, John was not done. He was 66 and still going. He was not finished with romance, or fatherhood, either.
On April 29, 1911, Samuel M. "John" Burdett married a widow, Sarah Howell Steward. Sarah was the daughter of Wylie Stewart and Elizabeth "Lizzie" Howell. That's not an error. She was from the Leipers Fork area of Williamson County. It was as isolated and rural of a place as Sam John Burdette could have expected to hide.
As beautiful a place as one could hope to see in Middle Tennesse, the Burdette family is even mentioned on an Historical Marker as one of the later groups of first families to settle there. Sam John had made his mark.
His second Sarah was 41 and the widow of a probable kinsman, whose name is as much of a twist as anything, most often seen as Pony M Steward. His last name also seen as Stewart. In one instance, his given name is shown as Napolean. There are a few records, of his children, where he was called 'Tony' and some descendants have actually extended that into Anthony, although he's never seen as Anthony in any record of his own time. His middle name was clearly Macklin, or Mack for short, seen as "Pony Mack". Some have even given him the middle name of Cornelius, as his namesake son was actually named "Pony Cornelius". I'm betting his actual name was Napolean Macklin Stewart, nickname Pony. He was the son of Linley Stewart and Eliza Beasley Stewart. I don't know if Wiley and Linley were related, but judging by the size of the community, I would guess it was more likely than not. Sarah was listed as a Howell, her mother's name, so probably, Lizzie Howell and Wiley Stewart were not married.
Sarah had came with a whole basket of children, and her youngest child only two years old. More on the Stewarts later, however, she would give, 'John' another son, Price W. Burdette, in 1912 , when she was 42, bringing her total to 12, and his to 12 as well. Together, they had 23 total.
Meanwhile, back in Alabama, Catherine Mahala Ogletree Burdett was still waiting on her wayward soldier, and still living with her daughter, Georgia, and husband. She was 97 years old. The industrialization of the South and the expansion of textile mills was well under way. The family had moved to Cordova, in Walker County, a meager little town that had grown up around the Cotton Mills. Harmon and Georgia worked there, but Mahala, the septigenarian coal miner, did not. They lived in town on Sissy Street.
A photo of Cordova, Walker County, Alabama durine the time Mahala would have lived there.
The Cordova Newspaper. 'The Courier", would publish an acount of the celebration of the 100th birthday of Catherine Mahala Ogletree Burdette.
According to the story, Mahala had turned 100 on March 10th of that year and family and friends had pitched in to buy her an $8.50 rocking chair. She was described as having hair that was still black, and wrinkles that did not mark her advanced age. The paper named her father, John Ogletree, as a memeber of a respected family in Wilkes County, Georgia and of her coming to live in Randolph County with her Uncle. It gave the marriage date to Samuel Monre Burdette as December 13, 1859, although that was a year off, according to the records. It also described her marriage as "happy", stating that this happy marriage was cut short by the Civil War.
"He did not come home, having given his life for the cause." Untrue.
Mahala played well the role of grieving widow her entire life, but what did she really know or not know? She applied for widow's pensions, whcih confused the War Department, as they had records of "John", who had applied for his own pensions under his correct name, due from his service in the Union Army. She had been granted that information, as in 1895, it was Mahala, who again applied for a widows pension under his service in the 10th Tennessee. She was again denied, as he was still living. How could she not know?
Catherine Mahala Ogletree Burdette died on May 6, 1922, at the grand old age of 101. She was buried at the Sardis Cemetery in Walker County, Alabama. Mahala was survived by her daughter, Georgia Ann Burdette Willingham, and three Grandchildren, William Monroe Willingham, James Lemuel Willingham, and Viola W. Barton, and a number of Great Grandchildren and beyond.
Cordova Mill Village, Encyclopedia of Alabama
Georgia Ann, only child of Samuel and Mahala Burdrte, inherited her mohter's longetivity, living unil 1958, and the age of nearly 97.
Back in Leipers Fork, Tennessee, Samuel M. Burdette, is still alive. He outlived the long-lived Mahala, having been her junior by over a decade. She spent her last years in a dusty, dingy mill village. He spent his in the green rolling hills of Middle Tennesee in a near Eden. The 1920 census has them on Carter Road in Leiper's Fork.
Samuel S. Morton House, Carter Rd. Leiper's Fork, Tennessee
John is 76 now, and still farming. Sarah is 47. He'd been John far longer than he'd been Samuel.The relationships given were a bit misleading. Nolah was actually their granddaughter, not daughter. The other children were not grandchildren, as they are listed here. Price was actaully the son of John and Sarah, a Burdette, not a Stewart. Clem and Minnie were two of her children by Pony Stewart, so they should have been listed as stepchildren.
Samuel Monroe Burdette aka "John", would survive for nearly another decade, not quite making it until 1930, one of the last surviving Civil War Veterans in Williamson County, Tennessee.
He was buried at the Leiper's Fork Cemetery, having passed away on October 28, 1929, at the impressive age of 86. Nothing to shake a stick at in 1929, considering they had not yet reached the age of modern medicine and numerous plagues and maladies were hitting those in the cities. But the story does not end there.
Sarah Howell Burdette continues on. She had suffered a number of losses in her time, as she approached her middle years.
Her oldest daughter, Ada, having recently married Riley Jones Tabor, died at the tender age of 22, of Tuberculosis in 1913.
Her second child, Alice, succombed to the same dexterous illness, 3 years later in 1916, leaving behind a small daughter, Nola, that Sarah took in at age 4. Then before the 1930 census, young Nola, herself, had passed away, of an 'abortion', or miscarriage, while battling pnuemonia, herself a young bride, Alice's only child.
Her fourth daughter, Clara Bell, also died of TB at age 23, in 1920, also a newlywed, having married widower, Robert L Earle, two years prior. As if loosing a husband and then three daughters to Tuberculosis, just the year prior, was not enough, her son, Pony Cornelius Stewart, was murdered in 1929 by a Howell cousin. He was just 27.
Pony Jr. was a laborer and murdered execution style at the wheel of his car.
If that was not enough tragedy for one family, her son -in-law, Tobias "Tobie' Kng, committed suicide, the husband of her daughter, Pearlie Frances Stewart King. Many of her family married into the King family.
To have had so many children, Sarah would end up with few grandchildren. I can imagine her as a broken woman in her latter days.
1930 finds her living on Hillsboro Road in Williamson County and working as a laundress, with her youngest son, Price. Sarah would moved to Nashville, in Davidson County, Tenneesee and passed away there on June 29, 1945.
Sarah Steward Burnette files for a Widows Pension after the death of her husband John, under his correct name of Samuel, so she knew it. She was likely to have been surprised to find out that she wasn't the first widow of this errant soldier to have applied. This is when her son Price, and his half-siblings discovered their half-sister in Alabama, the only legitimate child. If Mahala had not lived such a very long life, at least Price may have been legitimate, but she was alive still, the year of his birth. They kept it under their hats, but in the family, and DNA has since proven the Secret of Samuel Burdette. You can run, but you can't hide, from DNA.
The children of Samuel Monroe "John" Burdette were:
By Catherine Mahala Ogeltree : Georgia Ann Burdette, Married H. H. Willingham (1843-1958)
By Sarah A. Hargrove: John William Burdette (1866-1924)
Louvenia Jane B. Fulough (1867-1936), Benjamin E. Burdette (1868-1955), James Henry Burdette (1871-1939), Robert Edward "Bob" Burdette (1872-1950), Simon Ellis Burdette (1875-1938), Manerva Elizabeth Burdette Ferrell (Charlie Ferrell) (1878-1939), Snowada Burnetter (1880-1900), Rosa H. Burdette Andrews Meacham, Married Albert Andrews, then Matheew N. Meachum, (1881-1970), Wiley George Burdette ( 1885-1945).
By Sarah Howell Stewart: Price W. Burdette (1912-1962) and adopted Granddaughter Nola Mae Polk Turner (Clarence) (1912-1930).
His stepchildren by Sarah Howell Stewart that he helped raise were Ada O, Alice E. , Elizabeth Beatrice, Clara Bell, James William Carter , Carroll Mack, Pearlie Frances, Pony Cornelius, Elmer Clemmons "Clem", Minnie, and Roberta Stewart.
Miscreant soldiers during the Civil War were no rare event. This was not the only occurence within this family, even. The husband of one of Samuel Burdette's cousins also disappeared after the War, and she remarried , thinking him dead. But when his second wife filed for a widow's pension, he was discovered to have been living in Mississippi.
The reasons this happened vary, conscientious objectors, fear, mental confusion and scarring from battle, or just plain drive for survival. Once a deserter, they feared for their lives to return home, and invented a new identity that they kept for life. I wonder how many of these Civil War era imposters that DNA is now exposing?
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