Wednesday, 19 November 2014

New Records Coming Available Make a Difference…

…Or how finding a record in the War of 1812 Pension Files changed my tree.
This has been a confusing process for me as the change I made to the Burleson family in my tree is for a long researched brother of my ancestor. I may get some heat for this, but this is what is on FamilySearch Family Tree... Needs fixing, which is the purpose of Family Tree. 

David Burleson was born on August 17, 1785, in North Carolina. His father is listed as David Burleson Sr. who was born in North Carolina and his mother as Ursula Weatherford born in North Carolina. He married his first wife, Sarah Ruth Hobson, on March 8, 1819, in Rutherford, Tennessee. 

 Most researchers and the Burleson Bulletin have him listed as dying on 8 Apr 1856 - Concord, Leon, Texas, United States.  I fell victim to this train of thought because of a David Burleson in the 1860 Census married to a Sarah, ages so close, and it was added to my tree as such.
 I checked old deeds in Tennessee, he was noted there.  His marriage to Sarah Ruth Hobson is documented in the Tennessee Marriage index.[1]

  There weren’t any death dates found for Sarah Ruth, so I was satisfied with it for a brother of my ancestor.  Then I began working on my collateral lines, this made me rethink “good enough” for it needed my attention as much as my personal lines.
My findings for this family were not directly sought out as research for David.  Rather, it was a random click on a name that was familiar as I was assisting finding records to help with the Preserve the Pensions of the War of 1812 project. 
The name was Burlason, David.  The first index card[2]. taught me the War Department/Pension Department had as much trouble with the spellings as researchers do.  There is a page in the pensions that gives one reason for the many spellings. I don’t think I have ever seen it put so plainly the challenges of a pioneer man as this.

Fold3 Pension Image Files p22 and 23 for David Burleson
The index card also gave his two wives. Yes, two, and their names, Sarah Ruth was one.  It gave Sarah’s death date and place, where and when they were married.   The second wife Mathilda,who was applying for the widow’s pension was named, her marriage to David and her death date. Unfortunately only the one child he had with Mathilda was named. People have for years thought the David Burleson married to Mathilda was a different person, and there was some contention over which one belonged to David Burleson Sr.. This is a Goldmine!
It gave his death date and place.  A little more digging through the file revealed there was a bible in the family, affidavits as to truthfulness and character of David and his wife. If I were a researcher, I would be looking for Mathilda's child's descendants for a copy of the bible... hopefully it survived.

The exciting part for guys was the description of his service.  He fought in the battle of New Orleans. 

Fold3 Pension Image Files p80 for David Burleson
  (I hear that song of  The Battle of New Orleans [3]
“In 1814 we took a little trip. Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans and we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans…”
How neat to know a relative, even distant one, was there, and one who overcame the foe.

This man lived longer than anyone had originally thought.  He died on January 5, 1873, in Marion, Alabama, having lived a long life of 87 years.  

I am very glad that I found this information and have now helped point others to righting David’s Family Tree... well, a couple have now found my tree and sources and are excitedly changing theirs.  There are some that haven’t looked yet, but all in good time. 

See you next month!

[1] Tennessee State Marriages, 1780-2002 [database on-line] . Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008 p2 

[2] Fold3, War of 1812 Pension Files, Digital files on-line, . Tennessee, Burlason, David, p 1.

[3] The Battle of New Orleans (arr. J. Driftwood) Johnny Horton Pop Chart # 1 Apr. 27, 1959. [Lyrics online] Columbia Legacy Records CK 69971, Transcriber:


  1. The War of 1812 records are going to help so many people open doors in their brick walls. I am waiting (im)patiently for them to get to the P's so that I can see all of the documents for my ancestor Jordan N. PETERS.

  2. Fascinating, and some really great research

  3. Great work, Fran. It's so interesting to me how one record can force tree changes and open up new pathways to other records your never would have found.


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